Meeting God in the Upper Room: Three Moments to Change Your Life
Monsignor Peter J. Vaghi
Recalling his own Holy Land pilgrimage experience, Monsignor Peter Vaghi explores three significant events in the life of the early Church that can be traced back to the Upper Room in Jerusalem (sometimes called the “Cenacle”) in order to guide us to a deeper appreciation and understanding of living the Christian life in prayer, worship and service.
Each of the book’s three parts is dedicated to one of these key moments in the history of our faith: the Last Supper and the institution of the Eucharist, the post-resurrection appearances of Christ to his followers, and the Holy Spirit descending on the apostles at Pentecost.
The walk with the Lord is a continued encounter with Him in the power of Holy Spirit. In Meeting God in the Upper Room, Monsignor Vaghi captures the various integral ways in which we continue in our day to meet the Risen Lord—in the sacraments; in our prayer lives; in our profession of Easter faith; in our works of charity and service; in our devotion to Mary, Mother of the Church and our Mother; in the experience of the gifts of the Holy Spirit; in the call to evangelize and our efforts to evangelize in our own day—in our homes, workplaces, places of leisure, in our travel. All of these make up the rich and continued spiritual legacy of that Upper Room and what happened there.
In writing about the Upper Room, Monsignor Vaghi tells of not just its historical significance, but its profound spiritual significance. It was there that Christ and his disciples retreated from the world in order to teach and learn, respectively, how they could carry on the faith. And as we set aside time to enter the “Upper Room” of our own life, we discover that Jesus is waiting to meet us there as well.
–Monsignor Peter J. Vaghi is pastor of the Church of the Little Flower in Bethesda, Maryland, and a priest of the Archdiocese of Washington.
Wendell Berry and the Given Life
We drive to work on the stored energy of ten thousand years of sunlight. Our daily bread seems to generate miraculously from store shelves. And our communities can be connected with a billion ones and zeros over fiber optic cables. For us, the idea of being a creature can seem passé. Yet in this lonely world of mastery, in a time so dominated by human desire and design that it has been dubbed the “anthropocene,” the human age, many of us feel that we are missing some essential truth about who we are.
The glimpses of this truth come when we lose cell reception on a long hike in the forest and our eyes are lifted to the simple marvel of trees. We feel this truth when we take up a shovel and sense the satisfying heave of dirt as we plant a modest garden. We hear this truth when we tune out the traffic and listen to the song sparrow’s melody, eavesdropping on a beauty that serves no human economy. In all this we hear a whisper of the truth that we are creatures—and we long to live in this reality. But how can we, when we have moved so far from our life source in the soil?
For the past 50 years, Wendell Berry has been helping seekers chart a return to the practice of being creatures. Through his essays, poetry and fiction, Berry has repeatedly drawn our attention to the ways in which our lives are gifts in a whole economy of gifts.
Berry presents us with the sort of coherent vision for the lived moral and spiritual life that we need now. His work helps us remember our givenness and embrace our life as creatures. His insights flow from a life and practices, and so it is a vision that can be practiced and lived—it is a vision that is grounded in the art of being a creature.
Wendell Berry and the Given Life articulates his vision for the creaturely life and the Christian understandings of humility and creation that underpin it.
–Ragan Sutterfield is the author of Cultivating Reality: How the Soil Might Save Us, and a memoir, This Is My Body.
Br. Casey’s latest video, “Confidence”
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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 email@example.com
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.
Party with the Friars from 4 PM till Midnight on Mardi Gras!
Join the friars on Fat Tuesday (February 28) at Urban Artifact to celebrate the release of the St. Anthony Quad beer.
Wild yeast collected from the grounds of the National Shrine of St. Anthony located in Mt. Airy in July, 2015 formed the basis for this one-of-a-kind Belgian style quadruple ale. The wild yeast, versus more commercial fast-acting yeast, takes months to ferment. St. Anthony’s Quad was aged for 10 months in first use oak red wine barrels by Urban Artifact.
Doors open at 4:00pm. Fr. Carl Langenderfer will start things off with a quick prayer at 5:00pm. Renegade Street Eats food service will be there by 5:00. Jazz Renaissance (New Orleans style jazz) will start at 8:00. Come join the friars and some of the wonderful people who support them. A portion of the St Anthony beer sales will help to support the Franciscan mission work.
RSVP on the Facebook Event page.
Directions to Urban Artifact our on their website: http://www.artifactbeer.com/
Read more about the collaboration and process in this article from August 2016.
Br. Tim Lamb, OFM from this Province lives at St. Anthony Friary and serves as Secretary of Formation and Master of the House of Theology for the Province of St. Francis in Africa, Madagascar and Mauritius. He lives in Lang’ata, Nairobi, Kenya. It is very spartan living.
The 24 friars in the community share two cars. The electricity goes out on a regular basis and they wash their clothes by hand. Until very recently many of the friars were walking to and from school. Thanks to a grant from the Franciscan mission office, they were able to purchase 15 bicycles.
“We are not short on needs here. This is partly due to the places we have chosen to serve. We target isolated and poorly developed villages. The people in the parishes we serve support the friars, but in food stuff, very little by way of cash. We have to depend on the kindness of our benefactors”, writes Brother Tim.
Some of those needs are as follows:
• An addition to the present building. They are expecting 8 additional friars in August and currently only have room for two more.
• A generator which would help monitor and maintain electricity for essential things like the water pump for the bore hole (well) and refrigeration for food. This generator would also prevent damage to electrical equipment in the house due to fluctuations in power which accompany any power outage, which happens at least once or twice a week.
• A new (used) truck for shopping and hauling.
• 2 green houses to provide on-going vegetables for self-sufficiency .(There are two growing seasons, but year round pests, (insects, birds and rats) make growing out of doors difficult.
In Subukia, Kenya the friars have been instrumental in building a water supply for the area, built a medical dispensary, an orphanage, housing for internally displaced persons due to armed conflicts, and a residential high school. This is very typical of the work of the friars.
The cost to sponsor one student friar is roughly $3,000 US dollars per year. Brother Tim’s goal would be to find sponsors for all of the friars in formation. There are about 98 friars in initial and priestly formation. Each sponsorship would include pictures, a biography and regular updates from your friar. Would you like to sponsor a friar in Africa? Could a group you belong to sponsor a friar?
Would you like more information about how you can help our efforts in Africa? Email firstname.lastname@example.org and we can get you connected to Br. Tim. Keep up with Br. Tim on a regular basis through his blog, Omnes donum est.
See more photos of Br. Tim and his ministry on our Flickr page.
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!
But 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.
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 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)
The 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.
Lent 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.
Fr. Jim Van Vurst, OFM, answers the question of salvation
From 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.
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
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.
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.
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.”
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.
If 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 email@example.com or call her at 513-721-4700 ext 3219.