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Br. Gabriel sings Jesus the Lord

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“Let all creation bend the knee, to the Lord”
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The beautiful hymn, Jesus the Lord, by Roc O’Connor, SJ, has been sung by many choirs and soloists but this rendition by bassist Br. Gabriel Balassone, OFM, is truly a stand-out.

GabrielRecorded in 2014 at the St. Anthony Shrine when Br. Gabriel was a mere 81 years old, his deep voice expresses the song’s prayerful message of the Paschal Mystery.

Susan Quirk, the pianist for the St. Anthony Shrine, a long-time friend and collaborator with Br. Gabriel accompanies him.

Other stories and videos about Br. Gabriel:

A Voice at St. Anthony Shrine – July 9, 2013

Working in harmony – March 2, 2017

O Holy Night – recorded December 2014

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Jesus the Lord
, (c) 1981, Robert F. O’Connor, S.J. And OCP, 5536 NE Hassalo, Portland, OR 97213. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

 

 

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The Breath of God Within Us

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universe-1044107 EDIT 600“Yahweh”
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Fr Jim Van VurstIt is amazing how the revelation given us by God in the Book of Genesis, the first book of the Old Testament, says so much in so few words. In fact, though Genesis is 50 chapters long, it is really the first three chapters that are the most important.

In Chapter One, the revealed word of God tells of God as creator first of the entire universe.  Science has been exploring the universe and will continue to do so until the end of time. It’s no wonder that scripture says, “The heavens proclaim the glory of God.” (Ps. 19:1) We are so fortunate to live at a time when, with space exploration and unbelievably powerful telescopes floating in space, we can view God’s creation. And we are learning more and more each day.

But much more important than material creation, God is described as the giver of life. It begins with the lowest forms and continues to the very highest … the first human beings.  And it is here in the most simple yet astounding imagery that we read this significant statement: “Then God breathed into Adam’s nostrils the breath of life and man became a living being.” (Gen 2:7) Eve, taken from the rib of Adam, comes to life. And both are made in God’s image and likeness. And as with the whole account of creation described in Genesis, we know it is the underlying truths rather than a literal understanding of the details of creation as recorded in Genesis that are important. That is especially true of the image of God breathing life into the nostrils of Adam. It is so powerful and direct that it leaves no doubt God is the origin of all life.

baby-1531060 CROP 250But what is most striking is what happens at the beginning of a human being’s life at the moment of birth. An infant leaves the protective womb of its mother and takes (inhales) its first breath which it must do in order let out a “cry of new life.” That little phrase, “takes a new breath” is significant because it seems a perfect image of God’s own first breath in the account of Adam’s creation. Some might say “big deal” and brush that first moment of life aside. But as it breathes in, the newborn is in a way “taking in the breath of God” described in Genesis as God breathed life into Adam.

You might be curious as to how many breaths a human being takes in and breathes out in one’s lifetime? On average, a person at rest takes about 16 breaths per minute. This means we breathe about 960 breaths an hour, 23,040 breaths a day, 8,409,600 a year. The person who lives to 80 will take about 672,768,000 breaths in a lifetime. Who could count? The body/person will be alive as long as he or she can continue breathing.

But then at the end of life there is a last breath that is exhaled and the person completes his life on earth. In other words, that last breath is the last time a person will say through his breath, “Yahweh”, i.e. God.

Even with all the physiology we can study about the process of breathing on the part of every human, it is astounding to think that each breath in (“Yah”) and each breath out (“weh”) proclaims our heavenly Father’s name.

creation-of-man-1159966 CROP 225 x 191+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.

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Book recommendations from Franciscan Media

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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.

Upper RoomEach 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.

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Wendell Berry and the Given Life
Ragan Sutterfield

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.

Berry_Shadow 200 x 300The 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.

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St. Anthony’s sweet intercession.

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easter-bunny-95096_1920 EDIT 600

Lost money could’ve been a real hardship but St. Anthony came through once again.
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The parishioners in my church decided to provide chocolate rabbits for displaced children this Easter.  We collected donations and I was going to do the shopping.

Thank You Crop final Vignette 250On the morning I was to go to the store, I could not locate the envelope containing a nice amount of money for the candy.

I searched the house, turning over the garbage on the floor, going through newspapers, every drawer, my purse, etc.

Praying to St. Anthony I promised to write a letter to you if the money was found.  Several friends and family also prayed.

Although I am low-income, I thought I would make up the money which would have been a hardship for me.

After three days, I was going through a binder and found the envelope with the money.

The children will be so delighted and so am I.  Thank you for your intercession, St. Anthony.

–CL

Shrine 041 EDIT 115We’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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Lent with Br. Casey Cole, OFM

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Br. Casey’s latest video, “Confidence”
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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.

Br. Casey Cole, OFM

Br. Casey Cole, OFM

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.

On his blog and YouTube channel “Breaking In The Habit,” Br. Casey offers reflections on his experience living as a Franciscan in the 21st century.

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Click below for Br. Casey’s Lenten reflections.

Week 1: Restoring What Has Been Distorted

Week 2: Keep Going

Week 3: Filling a Hungry Heart

Week 4: Identity

Week 5: Death

Week 6: Confidence

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St. Anthony, the key to finding what is lost.

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All the keys were destroyed except for the important car key.

All the keys were destroyed except for the important and expensive car key.

Jane’s St Anthony story
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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

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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Authentic peace begins with charity

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Robert H. Mace

Robert H. Mace

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.

St FrancisI 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

St. FrancisOnce 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 ccushard@franciscan.org or download from our website.

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Praise for ‘Lent with St. Francis’

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Lent bookletLent 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.

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“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

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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.
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tauHave you enjoyed Lent with St. Francis?  Do you have suggestions or comments.  Email us at friarworks@franciscan.org

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Depression and Anxiety and Faith

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Faith

Fr. Jim Van Vurst brings hope of God’s love to oppressed
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Fr Jim Van VurstMany 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.
Fr. Jim

tau-cross-tattoo 110You 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.

Ask a Friar 173 x 300

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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?”

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Mardi Gras Fundraiser

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Friars Frank Jasper, Al Hirt, and Jeff Scheeler toast the release of St. Anthony's Quad Beer

Friars Frank Jasper, Al Hirt, and Jeff Scheeler toast the release of St. Anthony’s Quad Beer

Mission Fundraiser at Urban Artifact
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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.

Friar Works Co-Director Colleen Cushard and Provincial Vicar Fr. Frank Jasper

Friar Works Co-Director Colleen Cushard and Provincial Vicar Fr. Frank Jasper

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.

Fr. Carl Langenderfer blessed the St. Anthony Quad Beer

Fr. Carl Langenderfer blessed the St. Anthony Quad Beer

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