Lent is upon us, a time of prayer, reflection, and unity with God. But sometimes we miss important aspects of this holy season while we are in the midst of it.
In a weekly Lenten blog and video series for Franciscan Media, Br. Casey Cole, OFM, will guide us through the season, tackling themes such as sacrifice, joy, humility, pleasure, and piety—all to help us gain a better understanding of Lent. Br. Casey is a Franciscan Friar in initial formation with Holy Name Province (New York) currently stationed at Immaculate Conception Church in Durham, North Carolina.
Click below for Br. Casey’s Lenten reflections.
Jane’s St Anthony story
My daughter Claudia had quite a miracle from St Anthony last summer. She and her husband were down to one car and one set of keys. The duplicate set was lost several years ago. Don’t ask me why they never got another set.
Anyway, she lost the only set of keys they had somewhere out where I live in rural NM. She was helping her sister set up a wedding cake up in the mountains. We tore the house apart. We looked through the trash and searched the yard and the road. The keys could have been anywhere between my house and the location of the wedding… about 10 miles down a country road.
We started praying to St Anthony really hard. When we went to mass on Sunday the next day, there was a Novena to St Anthony printed out and placed on the rail by the candles. I knew right then that our prayer would be answered.
In the meantime the car is sitting in my driveway. It would have been a small fortune to have a key made. My daughter came out to my house a few days later with her father in law to see if they could hot wire the car and at least get it back to town. While driving to my house she saw something glittery on the side of the road. In the high weeds about 5 miles up the road, yeah she found the keys. The only usable key was the actual car key. It worked fine. All the other keys were destroyed. The set of keys had obviously been run over many, many times.
I’m including a picture of the keys. No one could believe she found them where she did.
Thank you St Anthony. She’s going to Mass in thanksgiving. Both things are a miracle!
–Jane in New Mexico
We’d love to hear your St. Anthony story too. Use our Contact Page or Email: firstname.lastname@example.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.
When I first encountered the Franciscan Friars, my life was forever changed because the lives, ministries and message of these dedicated men was profoundly compelling. I am reminded of St. Bonaventure’s suggestion that authentic peace begins with charity, and the friars follow Christ in walking pathways of peace and charity all their lives. The Franciscan charism honors and venerates the incarnate Christ in his humility, poverty, compassion and forgiving, unconditional love.
Born in Philadelphia, PA, on June 24 (Feast of St. John the Baptist) — I forget the year — my earliest education was provided by Sisters of Mercy and Brothers of the Sacred Heart. My mother had been taught by Franciscan Sisters in Philadelphia, and from my youngest years I had a particular devotion to St. Francis and his great affection for and emulation of the Crucified Christ. As a young man, I joined a community of Franciscan Friars, but after some time it seemed that God had other plans that I was too young to have foreseen. I left the community with a heavy heart, but with trust in the Providence of God that I had learned in community. Then I headed off for college at St. Francis University.
I learned from and studied with a great number of Franciscan Friars who mentored me in the ways of St. Francis and who exemplified the message of the Gospel in their lives of compassion, humility, love and service. They were ministers not only to the college students, but also to all those around us in any need: the impoverished, addicted, oppressed, and suffering ones. They served as true disciples of Christ in comforting the lonely and lost, the marginalized and outcast. They reached out in love and mercy to those who had never known love or mercy. With an unparalleled passion and zeal, the friars brought to life the portrait of St. Francis at the foot of the Crucified Christ, the St. Francis who humbled himself to kiss the leper.
I completed my B.A. Degree at St. Francis University, then continued on to my Master’s Degree in Theology at Marquette University. I lived in Wisconsin for 25 years and later pursued post-graduate work in Contemporary Franciscan Living at St. Francis University again. Today, I live in Tampa, Florida, where our Sacred Heart Church is staffed by Franciscan Friars. My entire life has been touched by the Franciscan spirit and charism, and I owe a debt of gratitude to the Franciscan Friars. My joy and great honor now is to live out the peace which, according to St. Bonaventure, is born of charity; and to “serve, love, honor and adore the Lord God” in whatever way I am able.
Making an estate gift to the Franciscan Friars of the Province of St. John the Baptist is my way of serving, loving, honoring and adoring the Lord God and of thanking the friars for all that they do, for the lives and ministries in which they engage in the spirit and charism of St. Francis. In this broken, divided world we are blessed to have such selfless, loving men religious among us to remind us that, yes, there is a better way and, yes, there is hope. They deserve our love and support.
Including the Franciscan Friars in my estate plans ensures that my impact will reach beyond my lifetime. Gifts to the Franciscan Friars will help them continue their educational and service ministries – enabling others to reach the fullness of their potential. Including the Franciscan Friars of the Province of St. John the Baptist in my estate planning vehicles is a way of doing good, sustaining the noble works and ministries of the Friars, and preserving their charism and legacy well into the future.
–Robert H. Mace, Jr., Th.M
Once you have met your obligations to yourself and those you love, consider remembering The Franciscans of St. John the Baptist Province in your estate plan. Simplify your life and the lives of those you love by requesting our free Estate Planning Organizer, available in hardcopy or a computer-friendly version. To receive your organizer, contact Colleen Cushard at 513-721-4700 or at email@example.com or download from our website.
Lent with St. Francis, 2017: Meditations and Prayers for Each Day of Lent was very popular and we completely ran out. We asked you to share your thoughts about the booklet. Mark Carroll, Secular Franciscan from Bay Village had some compelling thoughts that we decided to share with you.
“I have been through Lent with St. Francis several times, and I wanted you to know how much I have enjoyed this booklet, and how relative to each day it seems to be.
When I first received them, my initial thought was “seems awfully small.” Nonetheless, it is often in our smallness we are able to see with greater clarity, those things that in our fullness we choose to disregard.
The tone not only for Lent, but our lives as well is set in the very first writing by Thomas of Celano.
“Humility is the guardian and ornament of all virtues. If the spiritual building does not rest on it, it will fall into ruin.”
What a humbling way to approach the beauty and significance of this sacred season.
Peace and every good always,
Mark Carroll, ofs
Due to the popularity of the booklet we have no more physical copies to give away but you can still read it online through Franciscan Media.
Or visit our Face Book page, St. Anthony Shrine, for daily posts.
Have you enjoyed Lent with St. Francis? Do you have suggestions or comments. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Fr. Jim Van Vurst brings hope of God’s love to oppressed
Many people would say we are currently living in an “age of anxiety and depression.”
You may have heard people refer to our present time (world-wide) in this way and it’s not hard to understand why. I remember when National TV News was just getting started in the late 50s and early 60s. It began with a fifteen minute segment. It wasn’t long before someone suggested it should expand to 30 minutes. More than a few scoffed saying, “There is not enough news to fill a 30 minute slot.” And we smile now with dozens of news sites on 24/7, with breaking news multiple times per day.
In the US, it is estimated that about 40 million adults age18 and older, (18% of the total population) suffer from anxiety and depression (Source: National Institute of Mental Health). Anxiety and depressive disorders are highly treatable, yet only about one-third of those suffering actually receive treatment. The anxiety that is mentioned here is much more than “feeling nervous at times” or “being down in the dumps for a while.” True cases of anxiety and depression can be debilitating and paralyzing.
There are good reasons for concern and angst in today’s world. And with those feelings, the most normal question is, “Why doesn’t God do something about all that’s going on.” And, of course, we look for a miracle and a solution that will put everything in the right order again. But that’s the problem. Humanity is wounded and has been since the beginning. It always will be. Just think by the end of the century (just 83 years from now) there may well be humans on other planets! But if we back up 83 years to 1934 we realize how rapidly we were advancing in science and medicine then with many new discoveries. And that was prior to the nuclear age and pre-computer era. Go back 83 more years to 1851 and you begin to realize how distant that is from our present moment … pre-civil war days.
What all this means is that today’s societies and the world at large may experience the feeling that we are out of control with all the power we have discovered–power enough to end everything.
Well, where does this put those of us who describe ourselves as “people of faith?” Ultimately and simply it means that God, the creator and redeemer of the universe, is still in charge. But God is not the “manipulator” of humanity, as though we were chess figures and God is playing a game. Remember, we were given free will. Further it means that God already knows what will happen into eternity.
That belief and understanding is what enables us to turn to the Lord when we experience great pressures and struggles. Not for instant solutions but rather to look at ourselves and ask if we are living as a person in touch with and in love with our Lord and creator … the one who gave us life and the ability to make choices. Generally our area of influence is fairly limited. But if we take upon ourselves the value system Jesus gave us in his teaching and example, we will discover that although we do not isolate ourselves from all that is going on in the world and around us we will not lose our footing or balance. If we live by Jesus’s command, “Love God and love one another,” we can live our lives with understanding and gratitude, in the certainty that we never walk alone or in the dark.
You 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.
Fr. Jim answers more questions in the Ask a Friar feature by Franciscan Media. Last year he did an eight-part Lenten video series. Click here to watch his answer to, “What does Lent mean to you as a Franciscan?”
Mission Fundraiser at Urban Artifact
On February 28, 2017, Mardi Gras, the St. Anthony Quad Beer was released to the public with a party to celebrate “Fat Tuesday” and support the Franciscan Missions.
Fr. Carl Langenderfer, Guardian of the St. Anthony Shrine kicked off the evening with a blessing over the bottles of St. Anthony Quad. The Selfie Station complete with Mardi Gras inspired hats and garb was a very popular spot for photos with family, friends, and the friars.
A portion of the beer sales went to the Franciscan Missions. The friars serve the poor in Jamaica, Detroit, New Orleans, and Cincinnati. Cajun style food and New Orleans jazz added to the festive evening.
Urban Artifact Brewery crafts unique beers from local wild yeast. Owner Brett Kollmann Baker approached the Franciscan friars at the St. Anthony Shrine with the desire to help their ministries through a collaboration.
Read The Catholic Telegraph’s article here.
See more photos on our Flickr page.
Learn more about the collaboration here.
Visit Urban Artifact Brewery’s website.