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Hearing St. Anthony

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St AnthonyPaul heard, “Stop and get out of the vehicle.”
~

I wasn’t going to explain the check, but I changed my mind.

The $100 check is what I promised St. Anthony if he would help me locate my wedding ring.

We flew in from New York City on a Saturday evening and after unpacking, visited our local pub for some dinner.  As soon as we were seated at a booth, I noticed my ring was missing.  My wife started backtracking the day, but I told her it was recent.

I have a habit of twirling my ring on my finger, so it was either in my car, or fell off while unpacking within the last hour.  I’ve lost weight lately, so it’s a bit looser.  At least in was in Macon I thought.

I told her what to order for me and went outside to search my vehicle.  I work in law enforcement so I have a very bright flashlight.  Nothing inside the vehicle, nothing visible under or around it.  It was parked on an incline, so if the ring rolled away… it could be in a grate.

Ring_EDIT 300After a thorough search, my wife said we would just replace my ring.  I have worn that ring for almost 25 years, every day and I wanted THE ring.  I got online and found a prayer to St. Anthony.  We prayed it in the restaurant and I promised I would send $100 to St. Anthony Shrine if we located the ring.

After eating, we jumped in the vehicle and I started backing out.  Something told me to get out my bright flashlight and I did, shining it in the empty space.  I could see what looked like a silver pop top or something, but my ring was gold.  My wife said “see anything?” and I said no.

I put the vehicle back in reverse to leave when someone told me to STOP right there and get OUT of the vehicle.  I just had to exit the vehicle.

My wife said what are you doing, there’s traffic back there.  I put the transmission in Park anyway and jumped out, switched on my light and what looked like a pop top – was my RING.  Unbelievable.  It took me a minute to get the car back in the parking space as we realized what had just happened.

Paul

St. AnthonyWe’d love to hear your St. Anthony story too. Use our Contact Page or Email: shrine@franciscan.org or Call Colleen Cushard at: 513-721-4700. Share your prayers with us and our online community at our Prayer Page. You can donate to St. Anthony Bread or any of our ministries at our Donation Page.

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Resources for your journey through Lent

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Lent

Let the Franciscans guide you through Lent.
~

So many people wanted the popular pocket-size booklet, Lent with St. Francis, 2017: Meditations and Prayers for Each Day of Lent, that we ran out!

Lent bookletBut you can read the electronic version online through Franciscan Media.

Or look for the daily post on our Face Book page: St. Anthony Shrine.

Lent with St. Francis is a collection of prayers and reflections to assist you each day on your Lenten journey adapted from Peace and Good: Through the Year with Francis of Assisi by Fr. Pat McCloskey, OFM. ©2014 Franciscan Media.

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Franciscan Media publishes several books to guide you on your journey through Lent.  We listed just a few of their titles below.  Visit their Lent Collection page.

Sensing GodSensing God: Learning to Meditate During Lent, by Laurence Freeman.

Many people feel drawn to what meditation offers (quiet, reflection, stillness, time alone with God), but few have tried it. Some Christians even feel that they shouldn’t meditate. In Sensing God, monk, priest, and spiritual teacher Laurence Freeman may just change some minds. And so will the Holy Spirit, Freeman says – if they begin to meditate for a few minutes each day.

A practical introduction and guide to this ancient Christian practice, Sensing God includes easy-to-follow instructions, guidance and support, as well as 46 enriching daily reflections on the Gospels, highlighting their meaning and continued relevance for living today.

Laurence Freeman, OSB, is a Benedictine monk and director of the World Community for Christian Meditation (WCCM)

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Lent PopeThe Hope of Lent: Daily Reflections from Pope Francis, by Diane M. Houdek

With prayer reflections drawn from the words of Pope Francis, this Lenten companion helps you prepare for the Easter season. With Scripture citations for each day of the season, selections from the pope’s writings, and ways to bring the pope’s message into your life on judgment, justice, forgiveness and mercy, The Hope for Lent will lend a moment’s meditation to discover the extraordinary in the ordinary, to be surprised by God’s mercy when we least expect it.

Diane M. Houdek is the author of The Joy of Advent, Pope Francis and Our Call to Joy, Lent with St. Francis, and Advent with St. Francis. She is the digital book editor for Franciscan Media.

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Teresa-21Lent with Saint Teresa of Calcutta: Daily Meditations, Heidi Hess Saxton

“Thoughtfulness is the beginning of great sanctity,” observed Mother Teresa, one of the most beloved Catholic women of all time, popularly acclaimed a saint in her own lifetime. This small book of daily reflections for Lent and Holy Week celebrates the humility, charity and devotion of Saint Teresa of Calcutta.

Lent with Saint Teresa of Calcutta offers a short Scripture passage for each day, a brief meditation with a quote or story from the life of this remarkable woman, plus reflection questions and a short prayer to begin or end the day. Read alone or with a small group, this is a helpful resource for reflecting upon the mercy of God—and modeling the generous heart of this saint from Calcutta in our own lives.

Heidi Hess Saxton is a Catholic editor, wife, and mother, and is author of several books.  Heidi is editorial director of Servant, an imprint of Franciscan Media. She writes for adoptive, foster, and special-needs families at “A Mother on the Road Less Traveled.”

Visit Franciscan Media’s Lenten Collection for these and more resources.

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What is salvation?

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'Crucifixion and Saints' by Fra Angelico (1441-1442) Public domain

‘Crucifixion and Saints’ by Fra Angelico (1441-1442) Public domain

Fr. Jim Van Vurst, OFM, answers the question of salvation
~

Fr Jim Van VurstFrom time to time in talking with good and faithful people, I realize they have a basic misunderstanding about “salvation” and “how it works.” By that I mean, many people grew up thinking that they were in charge of their salvation and unless they were successful in living virtuously they were in serious difficulty … not “good enough” to be saved. Many concluded that God’s requirement was perfection or near-perfection! We might say, “Well, good luck with that!”

But let me explain a truth that is so very important and yet one so many misunderstand. The basic truth is that JESUS IS OUR SAVIOR. It’s not us! Paul’s letter to the Hebrews states it very clearly in Chapter 2 when he reminds his Jewish converts that Jesus became human “like his brothers in every way … [to] free those subject to slavery all their life.” What that really means is that the battle we face in life is NOT about our fight with Satan. That would be no contest really. Satan is a fallen angel and there is no one trickier than he.  The battle between good and evil over Satan was won by Jesus when the Son of God became human and in a sense said to all of us, “Just get behind me, my brothers and sisters, this is MY battle and I will win this battle for you.”  And he did just that as he laid down his life on the cross for all of us. Satan surely tested Jesus all through his life and you can be sure that he tempted Jesus as he suffered on the cross. But Jesus’ act of love on our behalf totally defeated Satan once and for all. Remember after the fall of Adam and Eve God promised a woman (Mary) would bear a Son (Jesus) and they would crush the head of Satan (Gen 3:15). That’s exactly what he did.

Our Lord Jesus Christ by James Tissot (1836-1902) Public domain

‘Our Lord Jesus Christ’ by James Tissot (1836-1902) Public domain

What this means is that, in fact, we and all of God’s children have been redeemed. Jesus has won and Satan has been crushed.  Now, I can understand that we might wonder as to why living a good life is not easy if indeed we have already been redeemed by Jesus. Well, the answer is because of the first sin by the first humans. Since the beginning of humankind all God’s children have been born wounded.  We don’t need proof of that if we look at what is happening (and has been from the beginning) around the world. We know that, too, from our own experience of failure in our lives. That’s what call the human condition … and the expression is, “we are wounded.”

But never forget that Jesus is the Savior and like the Good Shepherd he is, saved us. We can imagine Satan exulting as Jesus was taunted and tortured and nailed to the cross. Satan thought he had finally won his battle with Jesus. But Satan faced the terrible truth the moment Jesus gave up his spirit and as a faithful son to his Father, prayed, “Father, it is finished.” At that very moment Satan came to realize that it was Jesus who had won and he had lost the battle completely and totally. And that means that all humans never have to battle Satan.  Jesus did that as only the son of God could.

But what about us? Don’t we have to be perfect and sinless to be saved? No, not at all, and it’s not even possible for us. Jesus asked us to love God and love our brothers and sisters sincerely and as best we can. But we are never perfect … it is not possible. That’s Satan’s temptation for us … “to be perfect” because then we think we are gaining God’s favor. No, that was Jesus. And simply said, the best way to love Jesus is by loving one another.  Now isn’t that much simpler? Yes, Jesus is our Savior and our shepherd. We try to be his sheep who follow.

Fr. Jim Van Vurst, OFM

handsYou can share your prayers with us and our online community at our Prayer Page.
Pray for others who have also posted their needs and concerns at View Prayer Concerns.
St. Anthony was devoted to prayer to the Lord, read his words at St. Anthony Prayers.

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Navy Veteran Frank Silva Pledges 10% of Estate to Franciscans

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Frank Silva

Frank Silva serving in Vietnam in the early 1970’s

What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas… Not as far as Las Vegas resident Frank Silva is concerned.
~

The retired U.S. Navy Petty Officer, who has lived in Las Vegas for the past 24 years, is not sure how an appeal from the Province of St. John the Baptist made it to his mailbox 15 years ago.  But he is quite willing to share that it had its desired effect, and why.

Frank Silva today in Las Vegas

Frank Silva today in Las Vegas

The appeal rekindled his childhood appreciation for the work and humility of the Friars.  He became both an annual contributor to the Province and a legacy donor; he now plans to leave 10% of his estate to the Province through his Will.

“My grandmother belonged to Holy Family Parish in Albuquerque, where I grew up,” he said.  “It was part of the Province of St. John the Baptist at the time.  Francis was my baptismal name, and St. Francis was my patron saint, so I always had a devotion to him.  As a kid, I admired the friars.  When I got that first request I thought, ‘Let’s do this.’”

He likes that the Franciscans help poor people, providing them with education, food and shelter.  “The money goes directly to people in need,” he continued.  “And the Franciscans show so much humility.  That’s important to me.”

Another formative influence on Silva was the U.S. Navy.  He enlisted when he was eighteen.  “I joined the Navy because I didn’t want to go to Vietnam.  The funny thing is, after my first duty assignment and “A” school [which teaches you the skills you need to do your job], they sent me to the Mekong River to repair river boats for a year.  I grew up really fast.”

Frank's beloved dog Spike

Frank’s beloved dog Spike

After Vietnam, he was home ported on the East Coast, including Boston and Naval Amphibious Base Little Creek, in Norfolk.  “I saw the world before I was twenty-three,” Silva said.  After active duty, Silva spent 20 years in the Navy Reserve.

He credits his Navy training for jumpstarting his civilian career.  Two years after joining Public Service Co. of New Mexico (PNM) in 1974 as an apprentice, the superintendent of System Operations offered him a position as a System Operator, “I told him there were other apprentices years ahead of me and that journeymen wouldn’t be happy.  He said the reason he picked me was because I was Navy trained.  I will never forget that.  I can’t say enough about my experience with the Navy and what it did for me.”  After 11 years with PNM he worked for Arizona Public Service, Plains Electric G&T and on to Nevada Power Co. (NV Energy) where he retired after 17 years.

He enjoys walking his little dog Spike and his hobbies… He plays softball twice a week year round, running model trains (N-Scale), yard work and reading.

FrancisIf you would like to learn more about leaving the Franciscans in your estate plans visit our Leave a Legacy page.  Contact Friar Works Co-Director Colleen Cushard at ccushard@franciscan.org  or call her at 513-721-4700 ext 3219.

 

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The Christmas that almost wasn’t

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Volunteer Tom Grassa, Sr. Francesca, and Br. Al Mascia filled the Care'avan with hundreds of useful items to be turned into CarePax and distributed on the streets of Detroit

Volunteer Tom Grassa, Sr. Francesca, and Br. Al Mascia filled the Care’avan with hundreds of useful items to be turned into CarePax and distributed on the streets of Detroit

You think I’d know better by now.
~

2017 marks my tenth year living and serving in Detroit and I love it more than ever! Not surprisingly the Christmas season is especially compelling around here given both the great need and generosity of the locals.

CarePax filled and ready to be distributed to those in need.

CarePax filled and ready to be distributed to those in need.

Yes, there are countless poor and homeless to be sure but there are also many caring and generous souls who help us friars brighten the lives of those we serve especially Christmastime!

Then why was I so worried we wouldn’t be able to cheer as many spirits as we’d hoped to this ninth Christmas of mine in Detroit? Well, to make a long story short, I had just filled the Song and Spirit Care’avan with hundreds of giving tree items like gloves, warm hats, hand warmers and toe warmers; stuff that would soon be sorted by kind-hearted volunteers, turned into CarePax and distributed on the streets of Detroit the days before and immediately following Christmas day itself. That’s when it happened; the last of the remaining, operational door handles of the Care’avan cargo bay fell prey to the inevitable destiny of Michigan vehicles: rust!

There it lay on the pavement having done its duty for well over 275,000 miles! While I had no doubt that we would eventually be able to rescue the contents of the Care’avan from their lock-up, the question remained would we be able to do so in time for Christmas which was fast approaching?

"Angel" Greg Allen saved the day!

“Angel” Greg Allen saved the day!

I mean, there was a lot of repackaging left to do!

Well, suffice it to say that angels come in many shapes and sizes and this one happened to be wearing a grey Carhartt jacket and blue beanie! Yes, our very own Greg Allen who now lives with us friars having spent over two years living on the streets himself, came to the rescue and—in MacGyver-like fashion—saved the day!

Once again, things worked out perfectly no matter all my fretting. After all these years witnessing such just in the nick of time God-Moments, well, you think I’d know better by now!

Thank you all so much for helping us friars spread joy at Christmas as well as all throughout the year!

Gratefully,

Bro. Al, ofm

+ Would you like to support our ministries for the poor?  Your donations to St. Anthony Bread go directly to serving their needs.  God bless you!
A Friar Helper sorting hats, gloves and useful items to be put into CarePax.

A Friar Helper sorting hats, gloves and useful items to be put into CarePax.

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