Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Passover/Holy Thursday Reflection

This is My Body
A Reflection for Holy Thursday 2010
By Rev. Robert Johnnene OFD
Mission Saints Sergius and Bacchus/ Franciscans of Divine Mercy
For more than 3000 years, the Jewish people have celebrated a Seder which is called Pesakh, Pesach, Pesah), or Festival of Unleavened Bread in remembrance of the exodus from Egypt. The Exodus includes the deliverance from slavery in Egypt as well as the covenant between God and His people at Sinai.  Jesus and His followers, like faithful Jewish person gathered together to fulfill their obligation of celebrating the memorial of the feast of Passover. The word for memorial in Hebrew is Zikkaron and in Greek is ( anamnesis) meaning a liturgical celebration that celebrates and re-presents past mysteries of salvation.
If you remember the story, Moses told his people to sacrifice an unblemished young lamb and slaughter it and spread the blood on the doorposts and lintels of their homes, in that way the angel of Death that would sweep through Egypt would spare all those within.
The Jewish people were told to remember this passing on the fourteenth day of the first month of their calendar year. (This year 2007, the Passover began at sundown Monday April 2) This memorial celebration is what Jesus and His followers were celebrating. 
The Passover "Haggadah" or telling is broken into 15 divisions or order of the Seder.
The Passover celebration today is a celebration of all the deliverances God has provided and Jews still look for the final deliverance and exodus of the coming of the Messiah.
Christians see Christ as the person who fulfilled all things that the prophets foretold the Messiah. Even the title "Christ" means the anointed one, which is what Messiah means in Hebrew.
Christ told us he came to bring us a new covenant, Christ became the sacrificial Lamb, It was His blood that set us free from the bondage of sin. Even the words that Jesus spoke and we proclaim at every liturgy of the Eucharist " Blessed are you O Lord our God, king of the universe, who brings forth bread from the earth" in Hebrew (Barukh ata Adonay, Elohenu, melekh ha olam, Ha motzi lechem min ha aretz) are the words Jesus spoke. When Jesus took the bread, blessed it, broke it and gave it to His apostles saying, "This is my Body, take and eat" and the wine "This is my Blood, the Blood of the new covenant, it will be shed for you and for all so that sins may be forgiven. Do this is remembrance of me" He became the sacrificial lamb of the Passover.
Every time we partake in the Eucharistic Celebration we are reliving the Passover Celebration, we are carrying out the command of Jesus Christ  that we celebrate the memorial feast "The memorial feast of our redemption", we recall the memory of Jesus Christ, His suffering, death and resurrection. It is most unfortunate that our English language does not really convey very well the true biblical meaning of memorial (anamnesis {GREEK} and  Zikkaron {Hebrew}.
Like the Jewish people today who faithfully follow the old covenant made by Moses with God. We, who believe Christ to be the promised one of the prophets, by our participating in the Eucharistic Liturgy, personally die and rise with Christ and we become redeemed together with Him.
By understanding the Passover, we better can understand the beautiful and fulfilling mystery of our faith and of the Eucharistic celebration.  Let us work together to realize that as true believers of Christ we need to honor and respect the traditions of the faith that gave us our redeemer and savior Jesus Christ.
Blessed are you, O Lord God, king of the universe, who has redeemed us from the land of bondage to sin and brought us to freedom and salvation by your willingness to become the sacrificial lamb of the new covenant. Unite your brothers and sisters of all nations on this earth your Almighty Father created together in love and unity so that we can gather as one family giving Almighty God and you thanksgiving and praise. AMEN

Friday, March 26, 2010

Palm Sunday Reflection

Hosanna In The Highest

A Reflection for Palm Sunday 2010

Based on the readings from  Isaiah 50:4 – 7, Philippians 2:5-11, Luke 22:14 - 23:56 (Passion of Our Lord)

By Fr. Robert Johnnene OFD

Mission Sts. Sergius and Bacchus/Franciscans of Divine Mercy



"Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord, the King of Israel" (Matthew 21:9) shouted the people lining the road into Jerusalem. This joyful reception by the Jewish people to Jesus entrance into Jerusalem, riding on a donkey, could compare to the accolades and reception that the winners of the World Series or the Super Bowl experience on return to their respective cities. They are received as conquering heroes and indeed Jesus was just that kind of hero and still is to those of us who believe in Him and accept Him as the only begotten son of God.

It can be assumed that many of those same people who were shouting Hosanna, four days later would be in the crowds shouting, "Crucify Him, Crucify Him" because he did not meet their expectations of Him or because they succumbed to greed and accepted bribes from the powers of the temple elite.

We have seen in our lives just such a turn around by a super hero of the World Series who deserts the team he played with that won the series and goes over to an opposing team because they offered him a huge sum of money that the deep pocket owner could afford and who places winning over all at any price.  When the player returns to his former team he is no longer cheered but booed and treated with contempt.

In the past few years we have seen a great deal of publicity about the newly discovered Gospel of Judas, the supposed discovery of the tomb of Jesus and a resurgence of publicity about THE DIVINCI CODE and HOLY BLOOD, HOLY GRAIL, THE LOST GOSPELS and other "New discoveries that call into question the basis of Christianity. 

The speculation, by some, is that these new revelations might change our beliefs.

I do not know how our beliefs or the truth of Jesus teachings could be changed by these supposed new revelations.

The truth is, Jesus Christ lived, Christ died, Christ was resurrected, and Christ came to save all people of the world, not a select few. 

During Christ's life He broke all the rules and regulations of the Jewish faith and did not discriminate against anyone.

If anything, these discoveries should only serve to strengthen our faith and belief in a loving and merciful God.

They change nothing about the main facts.

These "New Discoveries" along with numerous non-religious historical documents acknowledge that Jesus was real.   All of them affirm that he gave us a new covenant, "LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH YOUR WHOLE HEART, MIND, SOUL AND BODY AND LOVE ONE ANOTHER AS I HAVE LOVED YOU"

The "Gnostic Gospels" as they are called are all based on the writings of the early Christians communities; and in most cases, they support and have much of the same information as we find in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, which we were raised on.

The Gnostic Gospels, as the lost Gospels are called, proclaimed that salvation could be achieved by knowledge.  

That statement is true; we need the Knowledge of who God is.  

We need to know how we can serve God. We need to know God's intent and desire for us. In order to know, love and serve God as we have been instructed to do we have to know God's lesson plan for us and then follow it.

None of the so called "New Discoveries" disagree with what we find in the Gospels concerning the events of the final days of Christ.

Jesus Himself told us; "Seek and you will find, Knock and it will be opened to you, Ask and you shall receive" none of these "recent" findings change a thing.

The Passion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, according to the versions being read today by either Matthew or Luke, opened the road to everlasting salvation for us.

Even if the most recent finding "The Gospel of Judas" has any truth, it affirms that Jesus had to die in order for our salvation to be assured.   It is purported to state, "For you will sacrifice the man that clothes me." By that, scholars familiar with Gnostic thinking said, "Jesus meant that by helping him get rid of his physical flesh, Judas will act to liberate the true spiritual self or divine being within Jesus."

This year the Passion of the final days of Christ's life will be read by all Christian churches, including the Orthodox churches, reminding us of the last hours of Christ on earth and what Christ was willing to endure for our sake.  Matthew and Luke's Gospels begins with the celebration of Passover and the creation of the Eucharist, followed by the agony in the garden and Christ's saying, "Father if it is possible, let this cup pass from me, nevereless, not as I will, but as you will".  Every day as part of my morning and evening prayers when I am petitioning God I end each petition with these words; "But not my will but your will be done Lord".  

The Gospel continues by detailing the betrayal by Judas, the trials, the way of the cross and the crucifixion and ends with the burial of Christ.

Saint Paul's letter to the people of the Church community at Phillippi explains who Christ was and why He endured these sufferings. "Jesus Christ, although he shared God's nature, did not try to seize equality with God for himself; but he emptied himself and took on the form of a slave, by becoming a human man – not in appearance only, because he humbled himself by accepting death – even death on a cross.  For this, God has raised him high, and given him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bend, in heaven, on earth, and under the earth, and every tongue will proclaim "Jesus Christ is Lord", to the glory of God the Father.  (Philippians 2)

During this final week of Lent, especially as we go through the holy Triduum of Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday let us think about how we live and practice our faith every day.

During Passion Week, let us find ways to put an end to the dissentions and petty jurisdictional divides which exist mostly for  power and profit which have separated the followers of Jesus Christ into many churches and find the means to unite the  One Holy Catholic (Universal) Apostolic Church we profess in the creed as it was in the first centuries of Christianity.

The time  is now to be faithful to God and our faith and not allow ourselves to be swayed away by supposed "New Truths". 

Let us work together to find ways to join together as the family of Christ and children of God and gather  as one family of faith in Christ.    

Let us begin living in our daily lives the message of Jesus Christ in our actions, thoughts, words and deeds.

Let us be completely faithful to Almighty God and His beloved son Jesus Christ and proclaim loudly, "HOSANNA, HOSANNA, TO THE SON OF DAVID, HOSANNA! BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD! HOSANNA IN THE HIGHEST!"                              AMEN

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Sunday March 21 (Passion Sunday) Reflection

 "By Christ's deeds the Lord has shown himself great"

A Reflection for Sunday March 21, 2010

Based on Readings from: Isiah 43:16-21, Psalm 126, Philippians 3:8-14, John 8:1-11

By Rev. Robert Johnnene OFD

Mission Saints Sergius and Bacchus





I have chosen words from the title of the psalm used in today's liturgy of the Novus Ordo rite or new rite in the western churches since it compliments all the readings used by the Universal church for Passion Sunday.

The Gospel of John 8:1-11 is the story of the woman about to be stoned because she was caught in adultery and how Jesus responded to those who were about to stone her.  Jesus said to them   "If there is one of you who have not sinned, let him be the first to throw a stone at her".  With those words Jesus broke with the teachings of the old covenant for Christ came into this world as the mediator of a new covenant or agreement between God and us. 

In the Gospel of John 8:48-59 we find Christ saying; "If I honored myself, it would mean nothing. My Father is the one who honors me. You claim that he is your God, even though you don't really know him. If I said I didn't know him, I would be a liar, just like all of you. But I know him, and I do what he says."

Notice the words of Christ; "You claim that he is your God, even though you don't really know him". Today everywhere we hear preachers claiming to know God and Christ and yet they go about shouting condemnation and hell fire and damnation and claim that they are preaching the teachings of Christ, yet, the Gospel story of the woman caught in adultery is an example of  how Christ preached mercy and forgiveness. Our God is a loving, merciful and forgiving God as shown from today's Gospel Story.


Paul's letter to the Philippians opening words sum it all up, at least for me they do, "I believe nothing can happen that will outweigh the supreme advantage of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For him I have accepted the loss of everything, and I look on everything as so much rubbish if only I can have Christ and be given a place in him. I am no longer trying for perfection by my own efforts, the perfection that comes from the Law, but I want only the perfection that comes through faith in Christ, and is from God and based on faith"

.Paul acknowledges that perfection only comes when we have been received into the eternal promise of Christ.  "I am far from thinking that I have already won. All I can say is that I forget the past and I strain ahead for what is still to come; I am racing for the finish, for is the prize to which God calls us upwards to receive in Christ."


I believe that it is not our duty or obligation to place condemnation on any of God's children but that we should teach the words of Christ and instruct God's children on the way they have been called by God to live their lives.  We most certainly should never think that God has made a mistake in creating someone in a certain way or refuse to allow one of God's children from participating in the worship and reception of the graces of the sacraments.  When we prevent anyone from worshiping God we are acting like those who wanted to stone the woman caught in adultery.


The next two weeks are some of the most holy and humbling times within the liturgical calendar.  They are a time when we examine ourselves deeply and make our list of strengths and weaknesses regarding how we are living the teachings of God as given us through Christ.

It is a time when we are reminded of how much Christ was willing to suffer for our sake and a time to ask ourselves how much we are willing to suffer in order to achieve the promise of Eternal life with God.

Christ did not go through all He endured for just a few individuals who perceive that they are holier than others but for ALL of the children of God, every individual on the face of the earth.

Let each of us, over the next two weeks, think about how Christ came to earth and by His words and deeds how God has shown himself great and given us the way, the truth and the light that will lead us to the Father, our creator, and everlasting life with The Father, Son and  Holy Spirit and Christ's and our heavenly mother Mary as well as all the heavenly elect.

Let us use this time to improve our relationship with Almighty God and with your brothers and sisters in Christ by working harder to live a life that reflects the teachings of Christ.

That is how we will pass over to the promised land of Almighty God.                    AMEN

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Laetare Sunday Reflection

Laetare (Rejoice) Sunday Reflection
By Rev. Bob Johnnene OFD of Mission Saints Sergius & Bacchus/ Franciscans of Divine Mercy
This Sunday, the fourth Sunday of Lent, is called Laetare Sunday which means Rejoice. It is called this because the Introit or Entrance Antiphon if from the book of Isaiah 66:10-11 which begins "Laetare, Jerusalem" ("Rejoice, O Jerusalem").
Because the midpoint of Lent is the Thursday of the third week of Lent, Laetare Sunday has traditionally been viewed as a day of celebration, on which the austerity of Lent is briefly lessened. The passage from Isaiah continues, "rejoice with joy, you that have been in sorrow," and on Laetare Sunday, the purple vestments and altar cloths of Lent are set aside, and rose ones are used instead.
Flowers, which are normally forbidden during Lent, may be placed on the altar. Traditionally, the organ was never played during Lent, except on Laetare Sunday.
Laetare Sunday is also known as Rose Sunday or Refreshment Sunday, and it has a counterpart in Advent: the Third Sunday of Advent which is called Gaudete Sunday, when purple vestments are exchanged for rose ones. The reason for both days is to provide us encouragement as we progress toward the end of each respective penitential season. 
The reason for encouragement is very clear, it is because of the suffering and crucifixion, death and the resurrection of Christ that we have the opportunity to gain everlasting life and the reason we have forgiveness of our sins.
The Gospel of this Sunday relates the parable of the two sons whose father divided their inheritance.  The one son went and squandered his, just as so many of us squander the gifts God has given us, and then returned to be feasted and welcomed with celebration.  He approaches his father with these words;  "Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I no longer deserve to be called your son." But the father said to his servants, "Quick! Bring out the best robe and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the calf we have been fattening, and kill it; we are going to have a feast, a celebration, because this son of mine was dead and has come back to life; he was lost and is found."
Could this message be any clearer?  God will rejoice and welcome everyone no matter what they may have done wrong, with open arms if they but ask His forgiveness. 
So many people today are like the other son who remained with his father and tended the fathers business.  The faithful son became upset and angry that the father welcomed this wayward son with such rejoicing and confronted his father to which the father replied;  "My son, you are with me always and all I have is yours. But it was only right we should celebrate and rejoice, because your brother here was dead and has come to life; he was lost and is found."
The message of this Gospel is very clear, Almighty God does not reject anyone who desire to be with Him and asks Him for forgiveness for any sin they may have committed.  Neither should any church that proclaims to adhere to the teachings of Christ reject anyone who desire to be active within the church and partake of the graces of the Sacraments. 
" He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her." (John 8:7 ) These words need to resound in our hearts and minds at all times when we decide that we are in a position of making judgments against someone.  There is not a person on earth or in heaven for that matter, except of course Jesus, Almighty God and Our Beloved Mother Mary, who did not commit a sin. 
If the truth be told according to the writings we have from many who became saints, they all admitted they were sinners.  St. Paul, the greatest of Evangelists, persecuted and ordered Followers of Christ to be killed before he saw the light of Christ's truth.  St. Ignatius, St. Francis of Assisi and even Blessed Mother Teresa of  Calcutta spoke of their sinfulness.
God rejects no one who returns to Him.  God loves all His children, He loves them as He created them and only asks that they respect themselves and others and return their love  to Him. 
When churches, that claim to teach and follow the message of Christ, drive people away by their rules and regulations and reject people because they mad a mistake and got divorced but still want to love and serve God they are not fulfilling Christ's teachings.
When Churches inflict pain and suffering by allowing their ministers to abuse children and still remain in service to the church, They have failed God.    When churches would rather spend billions on fancy garments and elaborate buildings than feed the poor and care for the needy and sick,  they are not following the teachings of Christ that they proclaim from their pulpits  and therefore they are like the Scribes and Pharisees who Christ said this about in Matthew 23:15 - 33.
" For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.  "Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the kingdom of heaven in men's faces.  You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to. 
"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin.  But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.
 "Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence.   Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.  
"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men's bones and everything unclean.   In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.  
"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You build tombs for the prophets and decorate the graves of the righteous.   And you say, 'If we had lived in the days of our forefathers, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.'   So you testify against yourselves that you are the descendants of those who murdered the prophets.   Fill up, then, the measure of the sin of your forefathers!   "You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell?     Therefore I am sending you prophets and wise men and teachers. Some of them you will kill and crucify; others you will flog in your synagogues and pursue from town to town.  
And so upon you will come all the righteous blood that has been shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah son of Berekiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar".
(this last line might give you pause to think about the fate of Pope John Paul 1 the smiling pope where there is very strong evidence he was poisoned because he was about to allow married priests, woman deacons and wanted to sell of some of the treasures that no one ever sees to build hospitals, orphanages and homes for the poor and elderly)
During this fourth week of Lent let us meditate and reflect on how we are doing in serving Almighty God or are we and if we are guilty of acting like the Scribes and Pharisees.   Let us rejoice that God sent His only beloved son to gain us eternal life and the forgiveness of sins by accepting the passion and death on the cross only to overcome death and sin through His resurrection. .
Are we living Christ teachings and being mindful of the needs of others?
Do we offer thanks to God by giving back 10 % of the gifts God has provided us to assist in spreading the truth of God's love and help the poor, aged and sick?
Let us pray that Almighty God, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, will open our heart, mind, and eyes to His truth and assist us in living according to His will.   AMEN

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Missions News Letter

The Mission Saints Sergius News Letter for the months of April, May, June and July is attached as a PDF file.
Please mark your calendar to visit our booth at the Boston Pride Festival on Boston City Hall Plaza on Saturday June 12th.
We will be there from 9:30 AM to 6:30 PM.
The booth cost of $350 is paid for because of a very generous donation from a mission member in New York City who feels our message of God's infinite love for all His children is very important.
As you will note from the mission financial report we have a very serious deficit and we do need to receive donations in order to have materials printed to distribute as well as meet some very urgent expenses which must be paid for before the 22nd of March.
If every person who is on our email list and those who belong to the missions Yahoo Groups were to commit to donating $5 (five) dollars a month or $60 (sixty) dollars a year we could eliminate the deficit and actually be able to meet our average monthly expenses.
Please consider making a donation either by mailing your check or money order to:



850 Washington Street

Holliston, MA 01746

Or use PAYPAL links on Mission Web Site




Saturday, March 6, 2010

Seeking God, 6th and final part

Seeking God, Part Six
A Reflection for the Lenten Season of 2010
By Rev. Bob Johnnene OFD, Mission Saints Sergius & Bacchus/ Franciscans of Divine Mercy

I begin this segment of SEEKING GOD series of reflections with the quote from The Second Neurotic's Notebook, by Mignon McLaughlin, published in 1966 "Don't look for God where He is needed most; if you didn't bring Him there, He isn't there."
We began this series with this sentence; "Throughout all of the history of human existence it seems that we humans have sought after and had the need to find that superior thing we often refer to as GOD" and have tried to provide statements and other materials that substantiate this statement.
One of the points I would like to suggest that those who desire to seek God reflect on is the passage from 1 Corinthians 2: verses 9-12 which says; "However, as it is written: No eye has seen, no ear has heard,
no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit.   The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God.  For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man's spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.  We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us."
It is this passage that I feel confirms what I have felt for so much of my life, that no human being can claim to know why God has done what he has done.  Why God creates some people with disabilities, some with a sexual orientation toward members of their own sex, or why some have an abundance of God's gifts and others have constant struggle to just survive.
I also feel compelled to sum up this series paraphrasing a very famous article written by Francis P. Church, in The New York Sun in 1897 entitled YES VIRGINIA, THERE IS A SANTA CLAUSE.
Here is my Paraphrase of that famous article:
Your  friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except what they can see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their minds. All minds, whether they be adults or children's, are little.    In this great universe of ours, man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.
Yes, there is a God. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy.
Alas! how dreary would be the world if God did not watch over it.
 It would be as dreary as if there were no flowers, sunshine or laughter.
There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence.
We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.
Not believe in God! Even if you do not see God what does that prove?
Nobody sees God, but that is no sign that there is no God.
The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see.
Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen in the world like the particles in an Atom.
Only faith, acceptance of Holy Scripture,  poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain of darkness and rejection and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. That is God.
No God, Wrong !  We must thank God for He lived before the universe existed  and will live after it no longer exists. . A thousand years from now, nay 100 times 10,000 years from now, God will continue to make exist and all who have believed and accepted God will be joined with God in that place reserved for those who believe.
Carl Gustav Jung said, "The central neurosis of our time is emptiness. All of us have a deep longing for our life to have meaning and depth." That longing , as we have pointed out in the previous 5 portions of this reflection series is finding that superior thing that is greater than ourselves and giving it honor or praise.
One thing that is required is Faith and Trust.  The dictionary description of faith as;
1 a : allegiance to duty or a person :loyalty. b (1) : fidelity to one's promises  
(2) : sincerity of intentions  2 a (1) : belief and trust in and loyalty to God  (2) : belief in the traditional doctrines of a religion b (1) : firm belief in something for which there is no proof (2) : complete trust  3 : something that is believed especially with strong conviction; especially : a system of religious beliefs .
Notice that the first or primary definition is : "allegiance to duty or a person :loyalty" and according to the dictionary allegiance is; "devotion or loyalty to a person, group, or cause" and we all know that devotion is giving honor and praise to something. 
Since the subject of this series has been Seeking God and I believe I have put forth many reasons that we should believe in the existence of God then it follows that we should believe and therefore have devotion to God, by whatever name called,  The Creator, The Supreme Being, Allah, Yahweh, Adonai or Jehovah.
The traditional purpose of Lent is the preparation through prayer, penitence, almsgiving and self denial to prepare ourselves to become a better person and more "God Like"  or "Christ Like" and ready to celebrate the glory of Easter.
It was in the Passion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, The Son Of God, that Sin was overcome and Forgiveness of our transgressions was achieved along with the possibility of Eternal life with the heavenly elect.
A believe in God is a must for this to be achieved, it does not mean a belief in a particular Religious denomination but a belief in God.  If you believe and follow the truths of that belief and give honor, glory and praise to your God, then you will be among the chosen ones of God.
That is my belief and I hope and pray that this humble series I have tried to put forth which, I pray, was inspired by God through the Holy Spirit, has helped you to find God and to understand why God must be the center of your life.
When God is at the center of your life, you have the ability to overcome all adversity and to cope with all those daily problems.  By believing and talking with God, daily, we gain strength and we begin to reflect God to others.
I ask God to watch over all who have taken to time to read this series and for those who have not and fill them with the knowledge of His infinite love. 
I hope that God will grant me the health, the time and the means to continue to let people know of His divine mercy and Love.
Our ministry is facing challenges due to a financial shortfall but I believe that if it is truly God's will the means to continue will come forth in time to meet our responsibilities..
I close with this Prayer;
Prayer for God's Infinite Love
By Rev. Robert Johnnene OFD, March 24th 2006
Almighty and merciful God, open my mind, my heart, and my soul to your infinite love.  Instill within me the knowledge of your truth.  Guide me in your ways in all the things I do so that I may be unto others a reflection of your love towards them. 
Allow the light of your truth to flow through me towards all I encounter in order that they may come to know you better.  I pray that all those with whom I come in contact with each and every day may be brought into a closer union with you and enjoy your promise of salvation earned through your beloved son, Jesus Christ, in His passion, death, resurrection and ascension.   I humbly ask this in the name of your beloved son, Jesus Christ, who lives, and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, One God, now and forever unto the ages of ages.    AMEN

Friday, March 5, 2010

Seeking God, Part Five

Seeking God, Part Five
A Reflection for the Lenten Season of 2010
By Rev. Bob Johnnene OFD, Mission Saints Sergius & Bacchus/ Franciscans of Divine Mercy
This series of reflections has been titled SEEKING GOD so I have decided that we really need to determine exactly what seeking means and how one goes about it and what it entails.
According to the Dictionary Seeking is both a transitive verb and an intransitive verb and it means; "1. To go to, to resort to, 2. go in search of, look for, try to discover, 3. To ask for or request or seek advice, 4. To try to acquire or gain, aim for 5. To make an attempt or try, as an intransitive verb it means to make a search or an inquiry.
When the object of the search is God, I would have to say that all the definitions are usable and correct.
Now the question arrives as to how you want to search and how important your search is to you and how much time and effort do you want to put into your search.
I don't know about you, but when we are talking about finding God and our relationship with God and the end result is everlasting life or damnation, I would say such a search might just be the most important one any human has ever endeavored upon.
Now every major search and discovery comes with setbacks, dangers, moments of elations and moments of depression.  A search for God will only have those things multiplied to a greater extent because there is one nemesis, Satan, who will do everything in its power from you finding God and gaining God in your life.
That is why I find the book of Job to be my inspiration.  As mentioned in an earlier segment, Job never gave in and had faith and trust in God and even after he lost everything, family, health, wealth he continued to place his faith in God for which he was rewarded 10 fold.
When a person really decides to seek God and claim God as the center of their life, they will certainly be ridiculed and probably be looked upon as a fanatic.  They may well loose family and friends who think that God is not as important as gaining fame, wealth, or other material things.
Seeking God, like prayer, which we discussed in section, four of this series, must be taken seriously and requires you to work on your search every day of your life from the moment you decide to go on your quest.
All quests are journeys toward a set goal. All Quests require great exertion on the part of the hero and the overcoming of many obstacles.  A hero's initial response may be a rejection of that return, as J. Campbell describes in THE HERO WITH A THOUSAND FACES
My favorite stories of Quests are Le Morte de Arthur, Don Quixote, The Lord of The Rings, The Wizard of Oz, and the movie  series featuring Indiana Jones and his quests.
Therefore, our search for God, if we actually embark on it seriously, will have obstacles to overcome and disappointments and even possibly rejection by family and friends but if we find God, the rewards are greater than any earthly treasure.
As Matthew 6:19-21 tells us "Don't store up treasures on earth! Moths and rust can destroy them, and thieves can break in and steal them. Instead, store up your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy them, and thieves cannot break in and steal them. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." and in Luke 12-21 we read; "So is the man who stores up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God."
In Luke 11:19 Christ is said to have told his disciples; "So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you." In one of the more famous "Gnostic" Gospels the Coptic Gospel of Thomas which is just a transcript of the secret sayings of Jesus to his apostles. The first saying is; "Whoever finds the interpretation of these sayings will not experience death" The second saying I found to be so much like that of Luke 11:19 and it is this; "Let him who seeks continue seeking until he finds.  When he finds he will become troubled.  When he becomes troubled, he will be astonished and he will rule over all"
Throughout the Coptic Gospel of Thomas one cannot but notice that many of the sayings are exactly like or similar to the sayings of Christ found in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
Saying 3 in the Gospel of Thomas has the following " Rather, the (Father's) kingdom is within you and it is outside you.  When you know yourselves, then you will be known, and you will understand that you are children of the living Father. But if you do not know yourselves, then you live in poverty, and you are the poverty."
I believe that "Living in poverty and you are in poverty" simply means that until we get to know God and find God within ourselves we will always feel an emptiness within ourselves.
In chapter four of Peace of the Soul by Fulton J Sheen entitled IS GOD HARD TO FIND? There is a quote from the poet Francis Thompson which was based on an idea put forth by Saint Thomas Aquinas and it goes like this;
O world invisible, we view thee
O world intangible, we touch thee
O world unknowable, we know thee
Inapprehensible, we clutch thee.
To which Fulton Sheen follows up with these words; "God is easy to discover in at least a confused and primitive sort of way through every striving and aspiration of our will and our heart" "God is not hard to find, because He gives himself to us as the Divine Gift. Natural life itself is a gift.  The soul has to come into the body from without, directly as a gift from the hands of God"
Throughout all of human existence the human race, according to historians and archeologists has sought and worshiped a higher power which they often ascribed the title God. Many people have had things to say and relate about God, here are just a few I found worth pondering in our seeking God Quest.
"I know God will not give me anything I can't handle. I just wish that He didn't trust me so much." ~Mother Teresa
"Prayer is when you talk to God; meditation is when you listen to God." ~Diana Robinson
"Every evening I turn my worries over to God. He's going to be up all night anyway." ~Mary C. Crowley
"God loves each of us as if there were only one of us." ~St. Augustine
"They say that God is everywhere, and yet we always think of Him as somewhat of a recluse." ~Emily Dickinson
"What we are is God's gift to us. What we become is our gift to God." ~Eleanor Powell
"God is not what you imagine or what you think you understand. If you understand you have failed." ~Saint Augustine
"I don't know if God exists, but it would be better for His reputation if He didn't." ~Jules Renard
"A man can no more diminish God's glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word, 'darkness' on the walls of his cell." ~C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain
"The feeling remains that God is on the journey, too." ~Teresa of Avila
"But I always think that the best way to know God is to love many things." ~Vincent van Gogh,
"People see God every day, they just don't recognize him." ~Pearl Bailey
"God's gifts put man's best dreams to shame."  ~Elizabeth Barrett Browning
"When we can't piece together the puzzle of our own lives, remember the best view of a puzzle is from above. Let Him help put you together." ~Amethyst Snow-Rivers
"Some of God's greatest gifts are unanswered prayers." ~Garth Brooks
"God enters by a private door into each individual." ~Ralph Waldo Emerson
"Remember this. When people choose to withdraw far from a fire, the fire continues to give warmth, but they grow cold. When people choose to withdraw far from light, the light continues to be bright in itself but they are in darkness. This is also the case when people withdraw from God."  ~St. Augustine
And one that I find so very, very true and worth thinking about; "Don't look for God where He is needed most; if you didn't bring Him there, He isn't there."  ~Mignon McLaughlin, The Second Neurotic's Notebook, 1966
In the Sixth and final ( sort of but not really because I will continue to try to guide and lead and inspire those who read my humble simple reflections to find God and to know his infinite love and mercy) installment of this series on Seeking God I will attempt to sum up all that I have  written over the last week and hopefully have inspired you to look deeper within yourselves and the universe created by a power much greater than any human in your quest for finding and securing God in your life and then reflecting God to all those you encounter.    AMEN