RETREAT 2006 ISSUE
GROUP PICTURE OF RETREAT ATTENDEES
BROTHERS AND SISTERS OF PENANCE OF ST. FRANCIS
FRANCISCAN RETREAT CENTER
PRIOR LAKE, MINNESOTA
Fr. Robert Altier – Retreat Master and His Talks
FIRST TALK: UNDERSTANDING GOD
As we gather to consider the most holy Trinity we are speaking of the most difficult area of theology. In saying that, even though this is the most difficult to explain it is also the essence of who we are as the people of God. In considering the message of One God we need to remember the fact that there are only three monotheistic religions in the world: Judaism, Islam, and Christianity. All three claim to be believing in the One God of Abraham.
The Jews feel he has revealed Himself to Abraham but we will discuss how He has revealed Himself to others in a more profound way. It is not enough to say that it is sufficient to believe in One God. The fullness of truth is that God is Three Persons. Therefore the Trinity defines who we are more than any other mystery. It is the belief in the Trinity that sets us apart from everyone else in the world.
Sometimes if we cannot get our minds around this mystery we could just give up. If we think of it, how many times do we honor the most holy Trinity at Mass? There are many, many times, we make references to the Holy Trinity at Mass. As you continue on you find there are always more references made to the Trinity. It comes up over and over again. We have become so accustomed to pray to the Trinity that we pay no attention to it. It simply is not enough for us to address God as God on a generic basis.
We need to reflect in this retreat with what does this have to do with us? God is a Trinity of Persons. How do we resemble God having been made in His image and likeness. If God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit, what does that mean to the Eucharist, and other Christian mysteries? We have to consider that over these next couple of days at this retreat.
The thing that people need to understand is that you cannot understand the Trinity. It is one of three absolute mysteries in the Catholic faith. A mystery is something that surpasses the ability of the mind to understand it. An absolute mystery is something that cannot be understood here or in the life to come. The Trinity is an absolute mystery. You cannot understand the Trinity here and you will not understand it in heaven either. You can, however, understand aspects of the Trinity.
God is infinite and eternal. We are finite. You cannot fit the infinite into the finite. Even the human intellect of Jesus Christ will never be able to comprehend God fully. In His Divine Mind He can. In His Human mind He cannot. His human mind is still finite. He was fully human. In His humanity He cannot comprehend His own divinity. This is a mysterious reality. We need to realize that if Jesus could not fully comprehend His divinity, we certainly are not going to be able to either.
We cannot even comprehend ourselves! Doctors can write pages thousands of pages thick and they will tell us they have only scratched the surface on understanding the human being. If we are that complex and we cannot understand ourselves, and we are finite, we are not going to be able to comprehend God. The good news is we will never come to the end of that contemplation of God for all of eternity! Even Our Lady cannot comprehend the fullness of the Divinity for all of eternity. That is something we have to look forward to.
Even in your marriage there is always more to consider about your spouse. So with Jesus, because He is \God we will not comprehend \Him fully in His divinity. None of us is able to drain the lake or well where we get our water \to drink, and none of us will understand the Trinity, thanks be to God. So, there will always be something \greater. It is about being filled to the absolute fullness with God, for all of eternity. That is heaven. Each time you look at God it is going to be an entirely new vision. For all eternity the experience of God is going to be renewed. There will always be infinitely more than we have experienced at any point. Imagine living that for all eternity. That is what we have to look forward to. We cannot come to the end, or heaven could end. So, that is what heaven will be about. Loving God forever.
The parameters of this retreat are: He is God, we are not. He is infinite, we are not. He comprehends us perfectly and we will never comprehend Him perfectly ourselves. St. Augustine was the bishop of Hippo in Northern Africa and he was trying to comprehend the Trinity to get it in His book. As he was walking he saw a little boy who was putting a cup of the ocean in a hole. He said, Little Boy, no matter how hard you try you will never be able to get the ocean into the hole. The Little Boy said to Him, no matter how hard you try you will never comprehend the Trinity. We can never get the fullness of the ocean into our little hole. We need to realize our own limitations. We will never come to the end of this topic. Whatever we say is only a fraction of a fraction of what we can say about God.
As we adore the Blessed Sacrament remember It is God. No matter how deep we go into the mystery there is always more. Ponder the reality of the Most Holy Trinity present in the Eucharist. The mystery of the Gospel is truly present before you when you adore the Blessed Sacrament.
SECOND TALK – FR. ALTIER – ON THE TRINITY AS FOUND IN SCRIPTURE
(excerpts by Bruce Fahey)
Let us begin with prayer... Hail Mary...
Before we talk about the Trinity explicitly we have to look at the fact that there is only one God. A few passages in Scripture refer to this. The people of Israel were the only people who believed in ancient times that there was only one God. The country is very little. About a 150 miles long and 50 miles wide. This little country became God's people. He chose them. He chose them because they were the weak and the least. God always does that.
Out of that group, the people who were the ‘least', God brings the truth, that there is only one God. He does this at Mt. Sinai. He gives them commandments on how they are to live, which address how we are all to live. The first commandment is "I am the Lord thy God and thou shalt not have other Gods besides me." The book of Deuteronomy speaks of this "Hear O Israel, there is but one God…" He did this as the Israelites fell into false gods all the time. They were wandering in the wilderness and they would make their own gods, as did most of the people of those times.
In Isaai 43, it says "You are my witnesses… there is one God…" St. Paul in Corinthians speaks of it too. There is one God and one Lord, Jesus Christ. St. Paul also says there are many false gods. Today this is also true. People falling into false worship.
At Caesarea Philippi, Jesus takes His apostles to a mountain to speak to them privately. What the pagans had done there was to cut out Pantheon, (all gods) nitches in the mountain and they put their false gods in these nitches. At the edge of a cliff there there is a large cave, and in front of that cave (I have been there) there is a huge boulder. Jesus brings his disciples to that place, and he asks them there, who do people say the Son of Man is? Simon Peter speaks up, and says that He is the Christ, the Son of the living God, and He is there. He does that in this place full of false gods.
The only one people can suggest is a god besides God is Satan, and, of course, he is not. However, that is why there is witchcraft and Satanism. People just don't know they are worshipping satan. There is much of it going on. People can say he is a god because he is a person, like god. In fact, he is merely a creature and infinitely less powerful than God himself. He is a loser from the beginning who has no more power than God allows him to have. So why fear him? The devil plays on our fears. Darkness, or something unknown. He can do nothing unless God gives him permission to do it.
We can read the stories of the Saints and see how God allows the Saints to be beat up by Satan. God doesn't allow that to happen to us because our faith isn't strong enough. Therefore, we have nothing to fear from Satan. Call on the Lord if you think Satan is near.
We worship one God, and that oneness is there. Why are we right and everyone else wrong? In America we do things by vote. If we took a vote on the question of one God the ancient world would have voted there was not one God but many gods, and they would have been wrong.
If God is not perfect why worship Him? Why not look in the mirror and worship yourself. You are not perfect either! Yet, not one of the ancient gods was perfect. Zeus, Athena, any of them, had their faults. So why worship them? The gods of old had special attributes but not all attributes. There were gods of love and war, etc. If they do not possess all attributes they are not perfect, and therefore, they are not God for God is perfect.
The Trinity was not fully revealed until the New Testament, but that means that He existed in the Old Testament. What He had to do was to get the people away from their false worship and that took over a 1000 years which actually lead to the Old Testament of the bible.
In the first verse of the first book of Genesis we see that there is more than one person: Elohim means God; ‘el' in Hebrew means God as at the end of Israel. In the Hebrew if there is a word that ends in ‘im' it is plural. Seraph is singular; Seraphim is plural. God here is Elohim, and it is plural, so Genesis speaks of a singular God who is also a God of more than one person. In the second verse of Genesis we hear of the Spirit of God moving on the surface of the waters. In Ch. 1 it says ‘then God said: Let us make man in our image and in our likeness…". Note the "us"; God as a plurality. Also, note the word "our" as a plurality. God, that is Elohim, saying ‘let us make man'. We have several references to God as a plurality in this way in the bible.
Now in Genesis 3, after the Fall, Moses writes that God's holy name is Yahweh. The Jewish people will never use that name. The Jewish people, would use the word adonai, which means Lord, to avoid saying God's name. So we use the name Lord. We hear in Genesis 3, Lord Elohim, one and plural right next to each other. Then God says "Behold the man has become like us." Since there were no false gods at that point this plural reference, ‘us', is made by God of Himself. Therefore, He is referring to His own plurality of persons.
There are a couple of other passages where this takes place. In Genesis 11 it says "The Lord said, regarding the tower of Babel "behold they are one people and they have one language. Let ‘us' go down there and confuse their language." We see the same thing in Genesis 18:2, about Sodom and Gomorrah, and the Lord appears to Abraham as three angels as the messengers of God, which is the first revelation of God as three. One angel for each person of the Trinity. So God is revealed once again as more than one. Also in reading Isaiah 61 in the temple Jesus says ‘The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me." So when He breathes the spirit on his disciples after He rises from the dead, that is the Holy Spirit. Once again revealing Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
The way we pray is the way we believe. If we don't pray, we don't believe.
Jesus is not created. He was begotten of the Father before time began, but he was not created. He is God, but it means that there was never a time that He did not exist. Scripture says "You are my son, this day I have begotten you." Means he was not created. He was begotten. Within the seed of David all of his successors were included, and that is how Jesus was included in the line of David.
In the story of St. John the Baptist, when he is baptizing Jesus, we have all three persons together. The sky is opened, the dove descends, the voice is heard "this is my beloved Son". We have it again at the time of the transfiguration. We have the cloud (the Spirit) that came down on the Lord on the mountain and overshadowed them and the voice came out of the cloud,and that was the Father. The words were ‘this is my beloved Son, hear him." All three persons are also revealed at the Annunciation. Mary will give birth to the Son of God, and the Holy Spirit will come upon her so the Child can be born. So all three persons are revealed here again.
In John 14, Jesus speaks of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. The Paraclete, the Spirit, sent by the Father, at the request of the Son, at Pentecost is also a reference to the three persons.
In Ephesians, Ch. 2, St. Paul says ‘we both have access, in one spirit, to the Father." St. Paul talks about the ‘riches of God dwelling within us" which begins to reveal something about who we are. We can possess within ourselves the fullness of God. St. Paul refers to this, and what a remarkable and beautiful thing when you consider it. God is present in his immensity in us.
God must keep everything in existence. Without Him nothing would exist, and that includes Satan, the angels, rocks and things, and us, etc. If He did not think of us for even one instant we would cease to be. He made us to be immortal, and because he made us immortal he cannot now change His mind. We will be immortal, like it not, heaven or hell, it is final. Everything that exists is going to pass away in fire, and the new heavens and earth, will be suited to our eternal body. So, why be concerned about it? Everything around us in the world is all passing away.
The only eternal being is God. A substantial presence, the Most Holy Trinity, dwells in those in the state of grace. So, if we are in the state of grace, the three person of the Trinity dwell within each one of us. St. Paul says we are temples of the Holy Spirit. Where one Person is all three Persons are there.
So, God is present in a variety of ways. Like we can send someone a letter, send them an email, a picture, a video tape, etc. there are different forms we are present to each other. So, you as a human being can be present to people in different ways. So also, God is present to us. In the most Blessed Sacrament we have the highest form of God's presence to us. The Eucharist.
If you fall into sin you lose the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, but if you go to confession He immediately returns.
There are two more passages we need to look at. Everything we have looked at so far reveals there is a multiplicity of persons in God. Two passages make it absolutely clear.
Matt. 28, the last things Jesus told his disciples. "All authority has been given to me …baptize in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit." He did not say ‘names'. He said ‘name'. Three persons with one name, i.e. God.
The other reference is 2Cor. 1:13, St. Paul is going to bless the people, and he mentions the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Three persons, one God.
Next talk we will talk of the theology of the Trinity. I wasn't going to cover much as it is a very difficult subject to speak of in one hour, but Bruce told me to do it. (laughter)
THIRD TALK – FR. ALTIER - THE THEOLOGY OF THE TRINITY
(excerpts by Bruce Fahey)
Let us begin with prayer … Hail Mary…
We have an awareness of ourselves as doers, and this is our consciousness. Our consciousness allows us to shape ourselves as people who do things. Does God have consciousness. The only opposite is that He is unconscious. So, God is always conscious of Himself even as we are. In that he acts, and there are only two acts in God. The act of the Mind, and the act of the Will. He can think, and He can love. God is revealed as truth in Scripture and as love. Truth is an act of His Mind, and Love is an act of His Will.
The definition of the person is a living being with a mind and free will. So, God is a Person. Animals don't have free will even though the bumper stickers say they do. We do.
The only being in existence when God created things was Himself. Since God is perfect, what He created is perfect. God knows Himself, He knows His essence, and so He is perfect.
God has a perfect consciousness of His act of knowing of His own essence, and therefore He has an existence and that existence is the Second Person, or the Word. The Word was with God and the Word was God Scripture says in the first chapter of John. So, the Word was, i.e. existed, before anything that was created.
For us things have to be tangible. So God knows Himself, and that act of knowing Himself perfectly is the Second Person of the Trinity, the Word. God loved Himself first, and He had a perfect consciousness of Himself, and the Word existed. Since He knew Himself perfectly, that knowledge and love of Himself is the Third Person, and since He had it always the Holy Spirit existed always also. Hence we have the Trinity.
Is there ever a time that the Word and the Holy Spirit did not exist? No. We are talking about a logical entity where all three persons are eternal. They were not born. They existed for all time. All three are eternal. All three share the same Divine substance. The act of knowing and loving are logical things, but they are not chronological. Everything happens simultaneously in God. Time as we know time is not a factor.
So, we have three persons in God. Are they identical? The answer is ‘yes'. God is perfectly simple. We say that better people are more complex. This is not true of God. He is absolutely perfectly simple. That being the case the three Persons are all God at one time. We have three persons who are identical, and therefore they are one. They are distinctly different persons who have one nature. They exist at all times and have for all time.
Each of us have one human nature, but we are each a different person. The stuff of your substance, that which makes you what you are is your soul. Your soul is your own. There is a union of souls in marriage, but they do not become one soul. They are still separate souls. They are accidentally united, but not substantially. When you die the marriage ends. The Three Persons are substantially united, so they are all one. In God we are talking about one substance and three persons. It would be like three people who shared one soul. That doesn't happen in people. It is the Trinity.
Some people say each person of the Trinity is a separate being. That would imply that there were three Gods, not one. Now if there is three then something is lacking in one of them. They cannot be perfect. God is perfect. Therefore, although they are three persons, who are distinct they also share one perfect nature. Remember, Jesus is begotten, not made. Consubstantial with the Father.
The Church teaches there are two processions in God. One from the Other. That is a procession. Here is how it looks to us.
Remember those blue plastic ice cube trays. If you think how they work you will see a procession in action. You fill the first cube. The water overflows into the second, the third, and so on. The second cube has its being from the first. This is a procession.
A procession can be internal or external. A simple example of that is an external procession of what is in my mind which is what I am telling you. My thoughts flowing to you. Confusing to you as that might be. It is an external procession to me, but an internal procession to you as it is staying in your head.
That being the case creatures extend from God externally. They are an external procession from God. There are two internal processions from God. That is the Son and the Holy Spirit, that is God Knowing and Loving. These are internal processions in God. The substance of the water is the example of the essence of God, which processes from the one substance of God into the three ‘cubes' of divine substance, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
If we had three persons with one soul, i.e. one substance, the mind and the will would be only one. These are faculties of the soul. All three of these persons would then think the same thing at the same time as it is the same mind. It would not be someone else's mind. It would be your mind even though it was also simultaneously someone else's mind. God is like that. Jesus could speak of His Father's Will as being different than His Will in the sense that He also had a human mind and will. Hence He could say "Thy will be done" of His Father's Will even though it was also His Divine Will, although it was not his human will at the time. He surrendered to His Father's Will, which was also His Divine Will.
The word procession is used because that is the word that Jesus used. He spoke of Himself proceeding from God (the Father), and the Holy Spirit He says proceeds from Himself. So, these are the two internal processions of God. In the Creed we acknowledge that we believe in one Holy Spirit that proceeds from the Father and the Son.
In the Orthodox Church they would say that God the Father is the source of the Son and Holy Spirit. We say the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son. This difference in theology resulted in the split that formed the Orthodox church. It is now in the process of healing, thank God.
The way we define the difference in the Three Persons is by the relationship of the Persons.
A relation always exists in something else. If you think about it. Two people who are going to get married are also sister or brother to someone, boy and girl, son and daughter of someone. Now they are also husband and wife, and become mother and daughter and father and son. These are all relationships. The same person with different relationships. Relationships exist in something else. So, new relationships are established but we remain the same person. Relationships are accidental, that is outside of ourselves. Your substance is your soul however. So, your voice can change; your size can change, etc. but the substance of you remains unchanged.
Now in God, in the Trinity, Father-hood and Son-ship define the relationships. It is the line in between that which is the person in relationships. The relationship between the father-hood and the son-ship is called passive spiration. Spiration means ‘to breath'. The Holy Spirit is being breathed forth by the Father and the Son, yet the Holy Spirit loves the Father and the Son. The love of the Holy Spirit of the Father and the Son is active spiration. The Holy Spirit Himself is passive spiration between the Father and the Son. So, we could make the sign of the Cross as ‘In the name of the Fatherhood, the Sonship, and the Passive spiration. The three persons are exactly identical, but the relationships are different and will never change. The relationships are that of the Father to the Son, the Son to the Father, and the Father and Son to the Holy Spirit.
The easy way to remember all of this is to remember that there is one God, two processions, three persons, and four relationships in the Trinity.
God the Father will always be the Father. The Son will always be the son, and the Holy Spirit will always be the Holy Spirit. As a person, you can be a man, a son and a father and a brother, etc. Not so in God. There is only one consciousness in God. Only one mind, and only one will, and all three Persons are fully aware they share one mind and one will. All share identically in the internal action of God. It would be like three persons with one soul. God is like that.
A divine person is a subsistent relation. That is the relation of Father to Son to Holy Spirit. The three persons of God. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit cannot act outside of the Trinity shared equally by all three persons of the Trinity.
Jesus, when he prayed on the cross, saying "My God, My God, why have you abandoned me." is not asking God to do that. He is God. He is praying the Psalms to make the connection to psalm 22 in Scripture to show the Scriptures as being fulfilled in His death.
Regarding Trinity. We are made in the image and likeness of God. How are we made into the image of God like the Trinity? If you look at what God did when he created Adam, Eve, and children. We have two processions. Eve from Adam, and children from Eve. Like God.
There is also the point for those married to think about. There is a Trinitarian element to it. The two become one. How? God recreates them to be one. The love of married couples overflows into a baby. The baby is the living tangible sign of the love of your spouse. So what are we? We are the overflow of the love of God and the love of our parents. A married couple shares in the creative work of God. Who is God? He is truth and love. What are children made for? For truth and love. So, we are like God.
Marriage is so dignified to God that He made it a sacrament, a symbol of the Trinity, and sharing in the creative work of God. Marriage shares in the creative work of God! Bringing about new souls.
Also, Our Lady, is the daughter of the Father, the mother of the Son, and the spouse of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit becomes fruitful in creating Jesus as a man through Our Lady.
We must always remember that if one Person of God is present in us than all three Persons are in us as you cannot separate Father, from Son, from Holy Spirit. We always pray to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as all three are one. They give of themselves perfectly to each other, and they receive each other perfectly. This again is like marriage.
Married couples give of themselves to each other perfectly, and receive their love perfectly. Love must be at least three. Married couples who don't have children must find some expression of their love. They must give themselves to other things. Other projects. Something in common. To adopt. To do church work or ministry. It is a minimum of three that make the union.
It is OK if you don't understand this. The main thing to remember is that God is three persons who are Truth and Love. You have to accept the whole Truth because the Truth is the person of God. If you don't accept the whole truth you do not accept God. That is why the Church says you must accept all of the truths of the Faith, and love your neighbor. Truth and love, as is God. We are going to love for all of eternity. All that matters is that you know and love God with your whole mind, heart and soul.
End of Fr. Altiers talks as Retreat Master
Fr. James Reidy
FOURTH TALK OF THE RETREAT FROM FR. JAMES REIDY – 'The paradise within'.
"Whoever loves me will keep my commandments, and my Father will love him, and we will come and make our dwelling with them."
This is the truth that heaven, or paradise, is not just for the future but it begins now. There is a paradise now. Even on earth there is going to be a paradise for the redeemed. This is what Jesus is telling us here. We will come to him and make our dwelling with him…now. This paradise is within each of us.
In "Paradise Now", the great epic poem, John Milton says that paradise can begin now.
This poem is theologically accurate in that being with God in heaven is the state of the faithful hereafter, and that being in the state of grace now brings paradise to us here and now. St. Paul describes this paradise in the faithful soul as the peace of God that surpasses all knowledge. This is surely a great mystery. The divine indwelling as it is called. We know it only by faith, but we know it is as real as our own soul. Jesus spoke of it often, especially when he said about the Holy Eucharist, "he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in them."
As St. Paul says, " do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit?" We need to realize that the Holy Spirit dwells in us and when He does also the Father and the Son dwell in us also. The great mystery of the divine indwelling of the triune God, in each of us.
It goes without saying that to do this we cannot be in the state of mortal sin. We must live the Gospel and keep His commandments. When we do so, and keep His word, should we not be as conscious of God's presence within us as we are of family or friend when they are with us? We should be fully aware of His presence as He is always consciously aware of us. On our parts we are present to Him by being aware of His presence.
We meet Him in spontaneous prayer. St. Elizabeth Ann Seton said this about interior prayer. It is a great gift to us to be blessed with instant communion with God in us. Instant communion with the divine indwelling. Now this spontaneous prayer is always
available to us to speak at any time with God brings to the forefront what is always in the background of our consciousness. We can speak to God within. Help me with this now. Forgive me. Thank you Lord. A familiar presence. We can offer this spontaneous prayer to God anytime, and we can speak to Him now, within, even as we will be able to speak with Him in heaven.
We realize that sin can separate us from God. It separates Him from us so that he no longer dwells within us. Our sins drive them from us. Just as soon we lose the beauty and sweetness of the divine indwelling. As it is in heaven, the future paradise, so it is with the paradise within. We can talk to God within. One reason it is called that is that it is preparing us for the paradise that is coming. It is a living hope for what is not yet. Heaven is the paradise we were made for beginning with the paradise that is in our hearts.
We call it ‘paradise within' because it is in us, as in interior life, and as St. Paul says it is our true life hidden within us, hidden with Christ in God." And paradise it is because it is such a happy state of soul filled with trust and hope and that peace that Our Lord alone can give: "My peace I give you, not as the world gives, I give you…" Too much outward activity can rob us of this paradise within. We need this peace to cope with the terrible troubles of our time. Jesus says to us as in the storm to the apostles "Fear not, I am with you." The Lord goes with you moment by moment.
So it is with the paradise within. And finally, one reason it is called ‘paradise within' is that it is the foretaste of the paradise that is coming. It is a matter of our faith, the faith that is already ours. Heaven is the paradise we are made for and have every hope and it begins with the paradise in our hearts. We know this when we consider the Lord's words:
"Whoever loves me will keep my commandments, and my Father will love him, and we will come and make our dwelling with them."
Archbishop H. Flynn
HOMILY OF ARCHBISHOP FLYNN AT MASS ON SATURDAY, JULY 29TH
"…a boy here has five barley loaves and two fishes…Jesus distributed them to the people…and filled twelve wicker baskets with the fragments…"
My dear friends,
Once again it is a privilege to be here with you and offer this Mass.
I would like to reflect here on the Word of God which we just so proclaimed so beautifully
As some of you know I had the great privilege of knowing Mother Theresa of Calcutta. I knew her in a rather business-like manner because when I went to Lafayette she called me one day. She filled the Cajun dome. When she left us that day there was a double rainbow!
Two of her sisters traveled with me to a native American reservation. They knew we were coming. She even had a great banquet when we got there of Louisiana catfish, which I came to love. It sounds terrible but their catfish is wonderful. The sisters were not able to eat they said, and while I enjoyed dinner the sisters were outside walking up and down the street saying the rosary. Later, when Mother and I were alone, we had the chance to speak, and I asked her why those sisters could not enjoy the meal with us.
Mother said that her sisters work with the poorest of the poor, and some of the homes they visit have only a handful of rice to eat that day. In some of the homes they only have a cup of water. She said the poor will give you that cup of rice and that cup of water. We must say to them it is against our Rule to eat the cup of rice or take the cup of water, whether there with them or anywhere so they are not embarrassed when we do not accept these gifts. That is why the sisters did not eat.
Today we have some beautiful readings. We have so many poor in our world and I would be the first to say this problem is very complex and not easy to resolve. Many times the problem is the weather. Many times it is the politics of the country. Many times it is greed. Sometimes it is a misunderstanding that God gives in abundance.
In the first reading, Elisha receives an abundance from God, he receives twenty barley loaves. What does he say. Give it to the people. Then what does he say? They shall eat and their will be an abundance left over. And what happens? When they eat there is plenty left over!
And then, in that beautiful Gospel, the people are following Jesus, beautiful Jesus. The apostles think, why did the people not provide for themselves? We often have this same attitude. Why don't the people provide for themselves. Did Jesus rant and rave about this? No. Jesus had them sit down and the young boy gave up his loaves and fishes and Jesus fed the people. And there was an abundance left over.
This has a lot to say today about poverty in the United States. One man wrote to me and said ‘these lazy people come here and you mean to tell me I have to give these lazy people some of my orchard." I called him, and got his answering machine. You never get a real voice these days and I will not have an answering machine in my home or my immediate office! They to are terrible.
I said, you have an obligation to give these people because everything is a gift from God. And then he wrote me a letter, and you would not believe how angry he was.
The trouble with us is we don't put on the mind of God! We need to listen to the whole Gospel, in every area! Think of the whole Gospel. Put on the mind of God! Live the whole Gospel.
The other day I was driving past someone in downtown traffic in Chicago. I saw one of those people with a sign saying they were in need. I rolled down my window and gave him a few dollars. I did not want to die that night and say to Jesus that I saw him in that man and did not meet his needs.
We need to think of that little boy in the Gospel, who gave up his fish and loaves, and God's abundance became so apparent. It is so beautiful.
EXCERPTS FROM ARCHBISHOP FLYNN'S COMMENTS AFTER COMMUNION TO THOSE AT THE RETREAT
I want to thank Bruce and Shelley for inviting me to this beautiful retreat, and all of you for the beautiful witness you all give to the Christian life in the spirit of St. Francis. I am very grateful to you for your numbers, and that is why I consider it a great privilege to come to this retreat and be with you and want you to know you are a beautiful, beautiful presence in this Archdiocese.
Please remember me and the Archdiocese in your prayers. Thank you so much.
Archbishop Harry J. Flynn
(The Archbishop has said he will come to next year's retreat. Praise God!)
by Bruce and Shelley Fahey BSP
We had a beautiful retreat and the talks in this newsletter as recorded are our brief summaries of what was shared with us by our speakers and Visitor. We will be working to make a CD of all of all of the talks and homilies given at the retreat for those that are interested.
We hope that everyone will take to heart and bring into their lives in the world the richness and beauty of what was shared at the retreat. A greater awareness of God and the Trinity. A greater concern for the poor and those in need around each of us. A great awareness of the paradise within, and God's indwelling presence in us.
We also hope everyone feels blessed who was able to attend the retreat. Next year, July 27th, 2007 we have Fr. Thomas Dubay scheduled to be our retreat master on the subject of prayer. Archbishop Flynn has already committed to come again to say Mass for us on Saturday, July 28th, and we hope to have Fr. Altier and Fr. Reidy with us also. Please put the retreat on your calendar and tell your friends of it. More information will be sent out ahead of the retreat.
Finally, let us also take this opportunity to thank all those who helped make this retreat such a success. The liturgies, music and prayer were all very beautiful, and the fruit of much labor on the part of many. Friendships were formed and life stories shared, and God was with us all. Our thanks and prayers to all, and God bless you.
Sincerely yours in Jesus Christ,
Bruce and Shelley Fahey BSP
Co-Administrators of the Brothers and Sisters of Penance
Saint Peter Baptizing the Believers
Brancacci Chapel, Church of Santa Maria del Carmine, Florence
BROTHERS AND SISTERS OF PENANCE OF ST. FRANCIS
a.k.a. the BSP, is a non-profit Private Association of the Faithful, which is dedicated to renewing the ancient way of penance as contained in the First Rule of the Third Order of St. Francis of 1221 for lay people in our modern world. We have the blessing of the Catholic Church to do this through several of its bishops. If you are bound by another Rule of life in another profession of the way of St. Francis that does not permit you to enter other religious families you are nonetheless invited to become an Honorary member of our Association and add the elements of this beautiful way of life that Saint Francis of Assisi gave us to the lifestyle of your profession.
All members, and Franciscans, are welcome to submit articles for consideration for inclusion in this newsletter if they are directed towards the spiritual formation of members or are the outgrowth of the lifestyle of the Association. Just send them to the BSP at
firstname.lastname@example.org. Feel free to share this newsletter with your friends or neighbors. It is intended to be the primary monthly communication of the Association. And if you can find it in your heart and in your budget remember that donations to the BSP are used strictly to promote the lifestyle and are tax deductible. We remain, always, sincerely yours in the love of Jesus Christ!
Bruce and Shelley Fahey BSP
Welcome to the Brothers and Sisters of Penance!
"I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life."
(1 John 5:13)