Category Archives: Friar Reflections

A regular reflection from one of our Franciscan Friars on the day’s readings, the happenings around the parish, or discussing parochial outreach initiatives.

His Passion Showed Humility | Friar Reflections | Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion

Dear parishioners,

Palm/Passion Sunday: the beginning of Holy Week. Passion Sunday signifies both suffering and love, royalty and triumph. By freely going to Jerusalem, Jesus demonstrates his humility and love for us.

Two Gospels will be proclaimed at this weekend’s Masses. The first, proclaimed before the procession with palms, tells of Jesus’ triumphant entrance into Jerusalem. Riding on a borrowed colt, Jesus was hailed by the crowds as they shouted blessings and praise to God. This is reported in each of the four Gospels, but Luke’s Gospel is the only one to report the exchange between Jesus and the Pharisees as Jesus enters Jerusalem. Jesus’ response shows that this event, and those yet to come, are part of a divine plan.

In this gospel, it almost seems as if Jesus does not want to end his last meal with the disciples. His words on service are significant in this context. Jesus has given the Eucharist to his closest companions and will soon die in service to others. In considering the Eucharist, Francis of Assisi stood in awe at the “humility of God.” This same God gives himself to us in every Eucharist. Jesus models what we are called to be: people of service to others, at home, at work, in our neighborhoods, and in our parish community.

The Last Supper is depicted in the lower portion of our altar.

The awareness of others is a valuable Holy Week lesson. Jesus taught us that true power lies in sacrifice and service and that humility is one of the most important virtues we need for our service and mission. Jesus came to forgive, to include, and to welcome and he is repaid in rejection, dishonesty, and hatred. He shows us the absolute depth of his love by sacrificing everything for us and in doing so, has saved us. A journey through suffering love, service of others, true and inspiring leadership.

During his triumphant entry, Christ rode on a colt, symbolizing humility. In his suffering, Christ abandoned himself to his enemies without resistance or striking back. Through it all, there is Jesus. His enemies humiliate him, strike him, scourge him. Soldiers make a crown with thorns, a crown for the “King of the Jews.” Herod mocks him. Pilate, Roman trained, makes a half-hearted attempt at justice but fear for his career prevails.

Jesus, for his part, does not strike back, he does not scold, he does not accuse or blame. He begs his Father to forgive those who “do not know what they are doing.” Jesus seems to be the victim but all through he is, in fact, the master. He is master of the situation because he is master of himself.

So, as we go through this day and week, let us look very carefully at Jesus our Savior. We watch, not just to admire, but also to learn His attitudes and values so that we, in the very different circumstances of our own lives, may walk in his footsteps.

As his disciples, he invites us to walk his way, to share his sufferings, to imitate his attitudes, to “empty” ourselves, to live in service of others – in short, to love others as he loves us. This is not at all a call to a life of pain and misery. Quite the contrary, it is an invitation to a life of deep freedom. A life of peace and of love. If it were anything else, it would not be worth considering.

Peace and all good
Fr. Zack

An Update on the North Campus | Friar Reflections | The Fifth Sunday of Lent

Dear parishioners,

Instead of a discussion on this week’s Gospel, I would like to provide you with an update and reflection on our North Campus property. I am aware that many of you were instrumental in the initial efforts to begin revitalizing the property prior to my arrival at the parish. It is inspiring to hear of and now see the commitment of our parishioners in their pursuit of that greater vision.

Last year, we finished several aspects of the initial phases from the original “True North” campaign. New brick and rod-iron fencing was installed, along with new security gates. The gym, which had been condemned, was removed. The parking lot was resurfaced. Wi-Fi was installed in the school, library, and auditorium. Our garden ministry continues to do a wonderful job in cleaning and beautifying the grounds, and there has been talk of future new traditions, like hosting an outdoor Stations of the Cross service. Fr Zack has seen his bee ministry grow to manage six hives, which means more honey for the Gift and Book Store. This month, much of the lighting in the auditorium will be updated or replaced, with additional outdoor lighting on the buildings also on the present docket.

There has also been growth in the number of ministries that utilize the North Campus. While the bee and garden ministries may go without saying, our bible study, book club, finance committee, Knights of Columbus, men’s prayer group, music ministry, Open Doors ministry, outreach committee, parish advisory committee, RCIA, and rosary group, along with the Sacred Heart Council of Catholic Women and Secular Franciscans all have begun to utilize the campus for their regularly scheduled meetings and events. We also have our Sacred Heart Academy Alumni group arranging luncheons to revisit the campus.

A view of the major appliances and ovens in the North Campus kitchen.

These add to the several semi-annual and annual parish events held on the property, such as new parishioner welcome dinners and advent offerings like the popular “Cookies with St Nicholas.” We continue to use the space for liturgical events at different times of the year, and the parish hosted several diocesan events at the North Campus over the last year. With parking downtown becoming more and more of an issue, it is advantageous that we have these multipurpose spaces readily available for these regular meetings. While “True North” originally looked to address other areas in phase two, I believe a project set for a later phase should be prioritized, to coincide with the usage growth of the property, and provide future opportunities for parishioners who may not be directly tied to a ministry to have more of a chance to experience the campus.

The kitchen is in desperate need of rehabilitation and remodeling. The plumbing and electric need to be updated and brought up to code. The appliances, counters, and racks are all old and may need replacing. There is no air conditioning in the kitchen, so this would also need to be added. A kitchen is the heart of any good parish event. It certainly is at the heart of one of our great ministries, Hands of Hope, who utilize the kitchen at the North Campus to make meals for the local homeless community every Saturday. For most events currently held at the North Campus, we are seeing organizers bring in food, rather than prepare it on site. Having a working kitchen would increase our ability to have more parish events at the North Campus.

By no means should we ignore the many other projects needed to modernize and revitalize the North Campus, but the kitchen should become our first priority.

From various meetings and discussions with parishioners since being installed as your pastor, I must again say how it is uplifting to see the excitement around the possibilities at the North Campus. As a parish, we need to keep that excitement flowing, and channel the event and usage possibilities being discussed, like community gardens, farmers markets, transitional housing, or developing a new chapel, into a revitalized plan and path forward for the property.

Peace and all good
Fr. Mike

Grass Isn’t Always Greener | Friar Reflections | The Fourth Sunday of Lent

Dear parishioners,

This weekend we celebrate the fourth Sunday of Lent, and the theme for our reflection centers upon love and forgiveness, as presented to us in the gospel of Luke.

The parable of the Prodigal Son is a story about God’s unconditional love and forgiveness for all of us. It is a story of mercy, compassion, and unwavering love, despite our faults, failings, and weaknesses.

It is a story of a man who left his home, his father, and his family, taking all his inheritance in search of happiness and fulfillment in life. The only problem was that he thought he could find happiness in what the parable calls a “life of debauchery.” As we learned from this parable, the Prodigal Son tried to find happiness by satisfying his every desire, whether moral or immoral. This eventually led him to living as a farmhand, feeding pigs and being treated poorly by others. Coming to his senses, we are told that he returned home, asking his father for forgiveness, to which his father embraces him and welcomes him back with open arms.

However, we also see the reaction of the older brother, who finding out that his younger brother has returned home asking forgiveness from his father for living an immoral life, is enthusiastically welcomed by his father, who celebrates his return with a banquet.

Being always obedient to his father, the older son becomes angry because he believed he has been treated unfairly. The father reminds his older son that all he has belongs to him, but his brother, who was dead to sin, has now come “back to life.”

The Return of the Prodigal Son, Rembrandt, 1667

You could argue the younger of the two sons mirrors the struggle today within society, and the emphasis we place upon success, money, power, and prestige. We live in a materialistic world, where the belief that money is all we need to be happy and successful in life – much like what the Prodigal Son believed. The reality is that in many ways we are facing a spiritual famine in our country and world at this time. Because of this spiritual famine, in some ways, we have ended up like the younger son, who eventually found himself caring for pigs. We see this in our day-to-day living, witnessing drug and
alcohol abuse, all kinds of fraud, theft, violence, murder, human trafficking, marital infidelity, priestly infidelity, the lust for power and control of others, and wars, like we’re seeing in Ukraine.

This passage from St. Luke’s gospel about the Prodigal Son on this fourth Sunday of Lent gives us all cause to stop and reflect upon the tender love, compassion, and mercy of our Heavenly Father. It also gives us the opportunity to reflect upon our own state in life and offers to us some very poignant questions for our meditation as we approach the midway point during this holy season.

We must ask ourselves: “Am I compassionate towards others?” “Do I allow God and the Holy Spirit to guide my thoughts, words, and actions?” “Do I offer forgiveness to those who intentionally hurt me? “Do I repay evil with evil, or do I offer love in return?” We all live in a very volatile, hostile, and angry world. We live in a world where violence has become commonplace, and all too often at the expense of the innocent and the most vulnerable of society.

I offer this reflection to you as we draw ever closer to the joyous feast of Easter. I invite all of you to join me in prayer, asking our Heavenly Father to bring peace to our troubled world, to help us to offer compassion and charity to those around us, and show all of us how to live in mutual respect and love towards all people.

There is an old saying “the grass always looks greener on the other side.” There  are many temptations in life, and many false voices that tempt us by saying “follow me” or “follow your desires and you will find happiness.” The best offer of happiness comes from God: “all I have is yours.” God, our Heavenly Father, is there waiting for us to come to him, waiting to embrace us and welcome us into His Heavenly banquet. Therefore I invite you for the remainder of Lent to make an effort to answer his invitation, and come home to the Lord. Let us in faith go into God’s house and enjoy His Heavenly banquet, for God is love, and whoever lives in love, lives in God and God in them.

Peace and all good
Fr. Ron

Different Orders, Same Franciscans | Friar Reflections | The Third Sunday of Lent

Dear parishioners,

While my brothers use this space as an opportunity to connect with you through the Gospel or liturgical events, I wish to continue with an educational stream of information on who we are as Franciscans, and what makes us tick. As parishioners, you are likely aware of the Franciscan Charism and differences in lifestyle and approach to the religious life when compared with other orders or with diocesan priests. After all, our order has been with you at this parish since 2005, so osmosis may have set in. Taking the time to help define the way in which we are structured, and provide context for how and why we live in the way we do seems important to reestablish periodically, regardless if you are a recent registrant or come from a multi-generational family of parishioners. For instance, were you aware that  there are multiple orders of Franciscans? Do you know the extent of our commitment to the vows we take? I am happy to answer questions like these to make certain our parishioners feel a stronger connection to their friars. Additionally, changes to our structure can occur, and it is imperative for us as a fraternity to inform you.

The Franciscans consist of three orders. The First Order (no, not the bad guys in the recent Star Wars films) comprises priests and lay brothers who have sworn to lead a life of prayer, preaching, and penance. This First Order is divided into three independent branches: the Friars Minor (O.F.M.), the Friars Minor Conventual (O.F.M. Conv.), and the Friars Minor Capuchin (O.F.M. Cap.). The Second Order consists of cloistered nuns who belong to the Order of St. Clare (O.S.C.) and are known as Poor Clare’s (P.C.). The Third Order consists of religious and lay men and women who try to emulate St. Francis’s spirit by performing works of teaching, charity, and social service. Strictly speaking, the latter order consists of the Third Order Secular, whose lay members live in the world without vows; and the Third Order Regular, whose members live in religious communities under vows.

Historically, the friars wandered and preached among the people, helping the poor and the sick. They supported themselves by working and by begging for food, but they were forbidden to accept money either as payment for work or as alms. The Franciscans worked at first in Umbria and then in the rest of Italy and abroad. The impact of these street preachers and especially of their founder was immense, so that within 10 years they numbered 5,000.

During the first years of the Franciscans, the example of Francis provided their real rule of life, but, as the order grew, it became clear that a revised rule was necessary. After preparing a rule in 1221 that was found to be too strict, Francis, with the help of several legal scholars, unwillingly composed the more restrained final rule in 1223. This rule was approved by Pope Honorius III.

St. Francis In Meditation, 1604-1606, Caravaggio

Even before the death of Francis in 1226, conflicts developed within the order over the observance of the vow of complete poverty. The rapid expansion of the order’s membership had created a need for settled monastic houses, but it was impossible to justify these if Francis’s rule of complete poverty was followed strictly. Three parties gradually appeared: the Zealots, who insisted on a literal observance of the primitive rule of poverty affecting communal as well as personal poverty; the Laxists, who favored many mitigations; and the Moderates, or the community, who wanted a legal structure that would permit some form of communal possessions.

Here in the United States, there are seven provinces of Franciscan Friars which span from coast to coast. As it was in St. Francis’ time, so it is now that the friars will undergo changes. Six out of the seven provinces could merge and become one province, which could span the majority of the country. Theses changes will cause us as Franciscans to once again “Begin again.” The saying of beginning again was ascribed to Francis, when he said to the brothers, “up until now we have done nothing, let us begin again.” As friars, we are challenged to ongoing conversion, both in our lives and in ministry and community.

The friars first call is to fraternity, which entails his call to prayer and communal life. In this way, the friar is called to brotherhood, living out the gospel message with his brothers daily in both prayer and common meals. We value this time of community with each other as a time to recharge and engage in the life-giving support of our brotherhood as consecrated religious. Just as families enjoy their times of gatherings on certain holidays and special occasions, this part of common life is very important to us as friars, for our health and well being with each other, and to relax outside of ministry. It is from this common life that we as brothers are called to go forth in mission, to our ministries (parishes, schools, hospital, and soup kitchens) and serve the people of God. This is our DNA, simply put. This is what sets Franciscans apart from other religious communities, that need for fraternity.

It is in living out our vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience that we give witness to the kingdom of God. Just as Jesus tells his disciples, “go out two by two and take nothing for the journey,” we friars must give witness to this by the way we live our lives in community and ministry. We friars must be countercultural in the way we live, breath and interact with all creation. As friars, we are to listen and be challenged by those we live (friars) and work with (staff) and those we encounter in our daily lives through ministry or service. Within the Franciscan order, fraternity remains the nucleus in which we live out our Franciscan life and values as friars.

Friar Henry

God’s Challenge for Us to Listen | Friar Reflections | The Second Sunday of Lent

(Editors Note: Embarking on a new tradition in 2022, the friars of Sacred Heart will alternate penning a letter or discussion aimed to help parishioners engage with the readings, the parish, or their outreach initiatives on a weekly basis. This new practice continues with a letter from Fr. Zachary Elliott, where he details the challenges we have to truly listen to God and each other.)

  • Readings for The Second Sunday of Lent

Dear Sacred Heart Parishioners,

This Sunday, I would like to focus on a single word from the Gospel, spoken by God to Peter, James, and John. “Then from the cloud came a voice that said: This is my chosen Son; listen to Him.” (Lk 9:35) The word “listen” comes from the Old English term “hlysnan,”
meaning “pay attention to.”

We live lives filled with noise and sound, so much so that the simple act of listening becomes more difficult. We hear well enough, sure, and there is plenty out there to hear these days. Listening to each other is not easy to start with, but it has become more difficult in this age. Conversations trend toward becoming monologues, where someone waits patiently until the other person has finished, all the while formulating a response in their own mind.

We may find our discussions becoming debates, where someone listens only in order to disagree or find fault in another. To listen is to give of yourself, to put yourself into the other person’s mind and heart. It is not just hearing the words spoken and being able to recite what was heard. It is the understanding and acknowledgement without any of the noise or your self interests distorting the premise.

To listen is to risk. To listen may mean getting more involved. To risk your time, often when you can least afford it, or to remove yourself from the equation in order to serve another in that moment. Listening can also leave us exposed, because when we listen, we are agreeing to set ourselves aside, which may make some of us feel vulnerable. While we describe the sacrifice associated with the action, we can also find positive affirmations in listening. Listening can be an act of love, to be where another can reach out to you, and you share not words, but yourselves. What a wonderfully human attribute!

During Lent, we make time to listen to Christ. This is the command of the Father from the cloud. Listen to Him. This is what Peter, James, and John were ordered to do. Why? Because here is at once God’s Son and God’s revelation. In various ways, God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets, but in these last days, He has spoken to us by his Son.

Jesus is God’s revelation to us. He is the point of personal contact between God and us. How does Jesus speak to us? Vatican II rings loud and clear. Christ is present in His word, since it is He Himself who speaks when the holy scriptures are read in the church. Listening to Jesus is not the same as listening to others. The same intensity, yes, the same openness, but a greater risk, because we are challenged to follow as well. When God told Peter, James, and John to listen to Jesus, He was saying “obey Him and do what He tells you; follow Him.” If we really listen to Jesus in the proclaimed word, then we can hear Him in our everyday lives.

Let’s take God’s command seriously and listen this Lent. God speaks to us in our loneliness, our pain, our suffering when nothing is going right. Only by listening in desperation do we hear God speak. Not explaining, not defending, not to justify, but only saying “trust in Me.” There is the sound of silence (thank you, Simon & Garfunkel), when we listen quietly, allowing God’s voice to whisper to us. Listen to one another. Listen to Christ in the proclaimed word. Listen to the word of God in the world around us. Allow God to come to  you through your senses.

Fr. Zack

Prayer, Fasting & Almsgiving | Friar Reflections | The First Sunday of Lent

(Editors Note: Embarking on a new tradition in 2022, the friars of Sacred Heart will alternate penning a letter or discussion aimed to help parishioners engage with the readings, the parish, or their outreach initiatives on a weekly basis. This new practice continues with a letter from our pastor, Fr. Mike Jones, providing insight on how to follow Jesus’ call to prayer, fasting, and almsgiving during our Lenten journey)

Dear Sacred Heart Parishioners,

In the Gospel on Ash Wednesday, we heard from Jesus the needs for prayer, fasting and almsgiving. This passage from Matthew’s Gospel featuring some of Jesus’ core teachings to his disciples is a wonderful reminder to us that during Lent these three themes are connected. Why do we fast or have a simple meal? It is so we can share those resources with the poor, for instance. I have gone into more detail about these three pillars of Lent and have given some suggestions on how we might practice each one during Lent.

The first pillar of Lent is prayer. Lent is a time of spiritual renewal, and during Lent we put special time aside to be prayerful and reflective. Good communication is a sign of good friendship. Lent calls us to renew our relationship with God, by communicating with God each and every day. Some people like to pray with the scriptures during Lent. Others like to pray the rosary, or some other devotional prayer. Others still may find a time to sit quietly each day in God’s presence. There are as many different ways to pray, or communicate with God, as there are prayers, but we encourage you to find a way of connecting with God that feels right for you.

Here are some ideas to reconnect through prayer:

  • Experiment with a new form or way of praying. (walking a labyrinth, Lectio Divina,  meditation)
  • For one week, set your alarm 10 minutes early and spend that time in prayer before starting your day
  • For one week, do an examination of conscience before you go to bed, reviewing your day
  • Set up/decorate an intentional space for prayer (a quiet corner, a comfortable chair, a place in nature)
  • Participate in the Stations of the Cross, or pray the rosary each week (or pray one decade per day)
  • Celebrate the sacrament of Reconciliation/Penance this Lent

The second Lenten pillar is fasting and abstinence. Fasting is the practice of limiting the food that we eat on certain days. On Ash Wednesday and Good Friday we fast, meaning that we only have two small meals. Abstinence is the practice of not eating certain types of food. On Ash Wednesday and the Fridays in Lent, we abstain from eating meat. Fasting and abstinence reminds us of our total dependence on God. These practices help us to remember that ultimately it is only through the love of God that we are fed, nourished and sustained. The practices also help us remember to abstain from those things that pull us away from being the people God wants us to be.

Ideas for fasting and abstinence:

  • Fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, and abstain from meat every Friday in Lent
  • Give up eating out for one week or more, and donate the money saved to a food bank
  • Choose one unhealthy habit (junk food, smoking, gossip) to abstain from for at least one week at a time
  • Abstain from buying any new clothing this month and purge your closet for donations
  • Abstain from social media for one week, and spend the time saved reading scripture or in spiritual reflection
  • Abstain from complaining for one week, and instead, journal five things each day for which you are grateful

The third pillar of Lent is almsgiving, or acts of mercy and love. Almsgiving and acts of mercy are ways in which we tell God that we will not be possessed by our possessions, but are ready and willing to share our possessions or valuable time in the service of others. During Lent, we make a special effort to do acts of charitable service or take up collections of food or clothing for those in need.

How almsgiving can help guide your Lenten journey:

  • Throughout Lent, save up your loose change in a jar and donate to the Society of St. Vincent de Paul
  • Volunteer once a week to help others; serve at a soup kitchen, mow a neighbor’s yard, rake leaves for your parents
  • Stop by a nearby nursing home, and spend an hour visiting with the residents
  • Make cards for those who are sick, shut-in, or incarcerated; let them know someone cares
  • Perform one act of random kindness every day for a week
  • Donate food to a local food pantry each week

Fr. Mike

Do I Judge Others? | Friar Reflections | The Eighth Week In Ordinary Time

(Editors Note: Embarking on a new tradition in 2022, the friars of Sacred Heart will alternate penning a letter or discussion aimed to help parishioners engage with the readings, the parish, or their outreach initiatives on a weekly basis. This new practice continues with a letter from Fr. Ron Gliatta discussing two challenges Jesus sets before us in our readings this week, and how they impact preparations for Lent.)

  • Readings for The Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Dear Sacred Heart Parishioners,

Our Gospel reading for this weekend presents a very daunting challenge to us as followers of Jesus Christ. The basic challenge before us centers upon two essential questions that Jesus places before his disciples and us: Do I stand in judgement of others? -and- Am I quick to notice what others do wrong, but not so quick to recognize the same faults and failings, or even worse, in myself?

These questions, my dear friends, presented to us for our reflection, offer a unique opportunity for self examination, contemplation and meditation as we approach the holy season of Lent.

Jesus makes clear to his followers, “do not judge.” What a difficult command! How many times have we stood in judgement of others, sometimes unconsciously? If we notice someone in a shopping mall who may look different than us, or finding out that our neighbor aligns with a different belief or ideology Without context or knowledge or discussion, how often have we already made judgements in our hearts? Do we make allowances for people’s differences or weakness and resist the temptation to quickly judge?

Often we pray for clear vision, and not to rashly judge others. We pray to possess the ability to see clearly enough to recognize our own weakness so that we may have compassion and not be so quick to criticize the weaknesses of others. Then, all to often, the temptation to stand in judgement over others becomes too difficult for us to resist.

My dear brothers and sisters, Jesus calls us to a holier state of life. He calls us to be more compassionate, more understanding, and certainly more loving and charitable towards our neighbor.

“Who am I to judge?” must rank as one of the best known phrases of our holy father, Pope Francis. Perhaps that is because it touches upon a very sensitive point in our pluralistic society. What rights have we to stand in judgement of others’ behaviors or beliefs? Attempting to do so can easily degenerate into a passive, uncaring attitude towards others. Scripture tells us “who of us can know the mind of God?” That in the final analysis, it is God and God alone who is the final judge of us all.

Thus, Jesus invites us to “…first remove the beam from our own eyes that when we then can see clearly enough to remove the splinter from out sisters’ or our brothers’ eye.” This Sunday’s gospel reading then is a perfect segue to our celebration of Ash Wednesday and the beginning of our Lenten season.

My dear friends, our preparations for this holy season of Lent should not only consist of fasting and prayer, but also our own works of humility and charity. As we ask our Lord for mercy and forgiveness, not only toward ourselves but also towards those whose opinions and behaviors we may find difficult to accept, we should seek out God’s mercy and forgiveness for those times we have not treated others with understanding, kindness, charity or love.

As we approach the season of Lent, we should look to the Holy Spirit for guidance in making sound judgements that bend toward treating our neighbor with fairness and humility. Let us ask God that we may do so with a sense of peace and calm, learning how we might become more loving, tolerant, and charitable in our attitude towards one another.

It is my hope and prayer that this reflection will help to serve as a reminder to all of us of the importance of the holy season of Lent, and to use this time wisely in our spiritual preparation for the celebration of Easter this year. May God, who has begun this good work in each and every one of us, see it to fulfillment in the kingdom of Heaven.

Pax et bonum,
Fr. Ron

In the drop down menu below, you’ll find an additional resource discussing the power of Lent, and how it relates to judgement.
The Power of Lent by Kathy Kuczka

The day before Ash Wednesday, and in some locales several days prior, people don beads and masks to celebrate with parties, parades, and pageantry. Called “Carnival” or “Mardi Gras” (French for “Fat Tuesday”), the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday is the climax of the merrymaking. The day has also been known as Shrove Tuesday.

The word shrove comes from an old English word that means “to prescribe or impose” – namely a penance. Shrove Tuesday was celebrated to anticipate the penance and fasting of Lent by emptying out refrigerators and pantries to make pancakes and other delights that would use up foods prior to Lent. Anyone who has celebrated Carnival or Mardi Gras has likely donned a mask. Whether it covers just the eyes or the whole face, a mask invites a sense of mystery that can add an extra dose of fun to the festivities. At first, people who were on the margins wore masks to escape judgment. Masked, they felt free to be whoever they wanted to be. They could go where they wanted and mingle with whomever they wanted, including the upper class. Carnival is not the only time masks are worn. People regularly wear invisible masks, often for the same reason as the early revelers—to avoid the judgment of others, to escape pain, to belong.

Lent is a season that empowers Christians to remove their masks and discover who they are. Jesus showed how to do this. During his forty-day sojourn in the desert, Jesus was tempted to put on the masks of superiority, power, and control. He chose instead to trust in God. During Lent, we too are called to enter a desert experience, to bare ourselves, and to remove the masks that hide who we are. May we, like Jesus, choose instead to trust in God and discover in ourselves a reflection of the God who loves us just as we are.

(Taken from “Connecting the Liturgy with our Lives” by Kathy Kuczka)

What Does it Mean to be Franciscan? | Friar Reflections | The Seventh Week in Ordinary Time

(Editors Note: Embarking on a new tradition in 2022, the friars of Sacred Heart will alternate penning a letter or discussion aimed to help parishioners engage with the readings, the parish, or their outreach initiatives on a weekly basis. This new practice continues with a letter from Friar Henry Fulmer discussing the Franciscan Charism.)

  • Readings for The Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

Dear Sacred Heart Parishioners,

For this week’s reflection, I would like to pose and answer a pair of questions: who and what are Franciscans? Many of you will have an idea on the logistics. After all, our religious order has been part of Sacred Heart for more than a decade and a half. But what about the spirituality?

For those who have wondered and maybe not known how to find the answer, or those who are new to our parish, and haven’t experienced a parish run by a religious order, I’m here to help. A Franciscan’s spirituality is both contemplation and action, in several phases. St. Francis lived the gospel of compassion, care of creation and being in solidarity with the poor. The Franciscan’s view of God and God’s action are different considering other religious orders emphases on sin.

The Franciscan charism is about the ways that God’s creation is good and that the life we are given is to be celebrated joyfully. The Franciscan desire on the goodness of God and all creation has consequences. We must take care of what has been given to us from God. God’s very creation is the outpouring of God’s love for us. Therefore, Franciscans speak about all of God’s creation as “the mirror of God.” This is revealed to us also in the creation story in Genesis, Chapter 1. This faith in God has implications in the Incarnation and Salvation.

The Franciscan consciousness honors the world around us and is united in praising God from their experiences. The world isn’t divided into that which is profane and that which is holy. Franciscans, as one of the four great mendicant orders of the Church, strive to cultivate the ideals of poverty, charity, and experience, as those ideals assist in our ability to minister to all. Franciscans do not believe in living lavishly while other Christians live in poverty and misery. To truly live the core Franciscan values is to be of service, respect, compassion, peace, hope, joy, integrity, and vision.

The Franciscan charism moves us away from dividing up our world into that which is good and bad, or as Sr. Ilia Delio says “is always capable of identifying God’s absence, but rarely consistent in affirming God’s presence in everything that is.” The Charism of the Franciscans through Francis’ eyes was to see God’s presence in everything as interconnected; the moon, the water, and the birds as his sisters, and the sun and wolf as his brothers.

Pax et bonum,
Friar Henry

In the drop down menus below, you’ll find some answers to the most frequently asked Franciscan questions:
What is a Franciscan Friar?

A Franciscan friar is a member of a religious order called the Order of Friars Minor, founded by St. Francis of Assisi more than 800 years ago. Men, who take the vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience, seek to follow the manner of life that St. Francis led. Our order is a mendicant religious order of men who depend directly on the charity of the people for their livelihood. At the present time, the Franciscan Friars number 17,224 worldwide with 586 novices or “friars in training.” Oftentimes you will read OFM after a Friar’s name, wondering what it means. It refers to the Order of Friars Minor, commonly called the Franciscans.

Are friars members of the diocese, or something else?

Our friars are members of the Franciscan Friars of Holy Name Province. While our parish is a member of the diocese, the friars largely answer to the provincial. As mentioned by Bishop Parkes during his homily from Fr. Mike’s installation Mass last weekend, a Franciscan province is a geographic area of the country where the Friars of that province live and work. The Franciscan Order divides countries into provinces. Holy Name Province is the largest of the seven provinces in the United States belonging to the Franciscan Order. It covers the eastern seaboard with some locations beyond, so their coverage is a bit bigger than the five counties that make up the Diocese of St. Petersburg. Our provincial headquarters are in New York.

Is there a difference between friars, brothers, and priests?

“Friar” is the English language version of “frater,” Latin for brother. All Franciscan men are Brothers by reason of the vows we take to live our life in community as a fraternity of men dedicated to following Christ in the manner of St. Francis. Within our own fraternal life, “Brother” is the moniker used. All the brothers also are called to their own vocation. Many of these same men also are priests. The men of Holy Name Province who were called to the vocation of ordained priesthood and serve in pastoral settings, such as parishes and retreat centers, also can be called “Father.” So, a Franciscan can always be called “Brother:,” and “Father,” if they are ordained.

Rooted In Trust | Friar Reflections | The Sixth Week In Ordinary Time

(Editors Note: Embarking on a new tradition in 2022, the friars of Sacred Heart will alternate penning a letter or discussion aimed to help parishioners engage with the readings, the parish, or their outreach initiatives on a weekly basis. This new practice begins with a letter from Fr. Zack Elliott discussing how Jesus asks us to trust in our faith during difficult times.)

  • Readings for The Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Dear Sacred Heart Parishioners,

As always, our readings for this Sixth Week in Ordinary Time both blesses and challenges us. When things are going well, faith is not difficult. Life’s necessities are taken care of. We may even have more than enough. We live convinced that our life is blessed. What happens when life seems to be just an endless series of hardships? The ease of faith wanes. The Prophet Jeremiah and many of scripture’s major personalities have had their faith sorely tested in the fires of adversity. Jeremiah reminds us of the importance of trusting in God by drawing on three familiar elements of Hebrew poetry. Images drawn from nature, the use of parallels, and the uses of blessings and curses. This weekend’s readings remind us, with the use of rich imagery drawn from nature, that God is still present to a troubled world, and that our trust must be permanent and deep.

There are two ideas that suggest themselves as we reflect on this Sunday’s readings. The first is that the way things are is not necessarily the way they should be. In his own way, Jesus was quite radical in speaking of a reversal of the accepted order. Luke’s “Sermon on the Plain” clearly shows that Jesus felt his greatest mission was to the poor and downtrodden. When considering our world in this time, that is a message with important implications for us, his followers.

Secondly, there are moments when our faith falters and our trust wavers. We may wonder about the after-life. At times we may be inclined to doubt whether the poor are any closer to a place at the world’s table than they ever were. To be human is to doubt, yet, through it all we continue to trust. In faith, we take Jesus at his word.

Although we may all be more familiar with Matthew’s “Sermon on the Mount,” the Lucan version, “Sermon on the Plain,” also was delivered early in Jesus’ ministry, with newly chosen disciples and large crowds. These two sermons of Jesus present the important basics of the spiritual life of those who choose to follow him. Both sermons lay the groundwork for how we are to be a church. Their messages are timeless, for they speak to Christians today as well as to those in the first century. They lay the groundwork for what it means to be a follower of Christ. We too are a part of the crowd to whom Jesus preached his sermon. May we have the grace to take his words to heart, the courage to lives those words and the trust to follow Jesus, finding richness in our poverty, trusting our faith when hardship comes.

The good news for us today is simple. Nothing in this world can rob us of our peace of mind and interior joy, because our trust is not in this world, nor in humanity. Rather, our trust is in the crucified and risen Christ, the savior and hope of the world. The psalmist summarized this good news for us: “Blessed are they who hope in the Lord.”

Rooted in Trust,
Fr. Zack