As our Christmas celebration continues and we observe the Feast of the Holy Family today and the beginning of 2007 tomorrow, I wanted to take this opportunity to wish all who visit this Blog a very Blessed and Happy New Year.
Only the Lord knows what 2007 will bring, but we know that it will be blessed if we trust that our God truly is Emmanuel--God-with-us.
Stan comments on the Christmas post:
Merry Christmas! Thanks for sharing your fraternal spirit and your life via this site! As the day begins, you will each be remembered at Eucharist - God give you safety as you travel, happiness in the love of family and friends, and may all whom you meet behold the glory of the Lord as it shines around and through you! Merry Christmas!
May you all know the blessings and graces of this Holy Feast. God is come, Emmanuel is truly God-with-us.
The Friars and Postulants of Saint Anthony Friary held our Christmas dinner and party on Friday evening. Most of us will be traveling Christmas Day after we celebrate the Christmas Eucharist together, so we had our community celebration before the last minute preparations and travel begin.
The evening began with prayer as we blessed the Christmas Tree and the Manger Scene. Saint Francis began the wonderful tradition of depicting the Birth of Jesus at Grecio when he organized the first "living" Crib. On the right (from left to right) are Bro. Scott, Fr. Kenan, Fr. Dan, and Postulants Richard Goodin and Dennis Geib participating in the prayer.
As the youngest member of the community, Richard Goodin got to distribute the gifts.
Here Fr. Maynard (left) and yours-truly are opening our gifts.
Just a very quick suggestion. If you are not able to participate in daily Mass these days before Christmas, may I suggest that you take a few minutes and pray over the Infancy Narratives in the Gospels of Matthew (Mt: 1-2) and Luke Lk:1-2). Personally I am finding them very rich and rewarding as a preparation for Christmas--especially with all of the other distractions at this time of year. Even if you do hear them at daily Mass, it might be good to re-read them and pray over them during the day.
Also, for those who have access to the Liturgy of the Hours, the Office of Readings is a gold mine this season. Rich fare for a beautiful liturgical season.
Peace and Every Good.
Stan responds to the Christmas Tree Decorating gathering:
Looking at your pictures, my mind goes to Greccio and a poor little Deacon who loved Jesus so much that he was given the singular grace of embracing the Baby with tender love. You guys know that love. The tree shows it! Whether decorated with enthusiasm or well... in other manner... the end product is a "light of revelation to the nations!" You - each of you - are wonderful bearers of that Light. May your eyes see the Salvation of our God, and your hearts continue to embrace Him. Merry Christmas to all who are and all who embrace the Franciscans of St. John the Baptist Province!
As in most households, decorating the Christmas Tree at Saint Anthony Friary is a community affair. Recently, we all gathered to perform this tradition task with varied degrees of enthusiasm. Some take it very seriously, and others . . . well, there are varying ways of approaching this event. And there's always the "Christmas Ham" who can't resist the camera. (We usually refer to this particular "ham" as Fr. Dan.)
But when all the fun and work is over, the finished product stands int eh corner of our recreation room reminding us of the mysteries of life that we are about to celebrate at Christmas.
We will have our Christmas dinner this Friday and then, after the Eucharist Christmas morning, most of us will be doing a little traveling to spend time with our families.
(I'm not sure why this set of pictures came out pink, but . . . What can I say.)
Enjoy the gift of peace this last week of Advent.
Stan comments on Sr. Rita's Solemn Profession:
Peace and all good to Sr. Rita! What a superb witness of how God calls us at all stages of life to follow him, even in a very radical way! I rejoice with the friars and sisters that Sr. Rita has so beautifully given her fiat to the Lord! This, truly, is perfect joy!
Ben writes in referrence to the Canticle Cafe:I haven't sent a comment in a while, I've been busy, but this Cafe looks pretty cool. Good luck with it.
Sr. Rita Cheong, O.S.C. made her Solemn Profession as a Poor Clare on Saturday, December 9. Sister entered the Church filled with Poor Clares, Friars, and friends from around the world dressed in Korean wedding garments (see picture on the left). She then switched to her simple Poor Clare habit (see right) and processed in with her Abbess, Sr, Doris, O.S.C. who would later receive her permanent commitment during the liturgy (see left).
Sr. Rita has a beautiful life story. She began her adult life married and is a mother and grand mother. Her daughter, Theresa, sang a beautiful tribute at the end of Mass while her son-in-law, Luke, proclaimed the second Reading. One of the symbols used in a Poor Clare Solemn Profession is a crown of thorns signifying a sharing in the passion of Jesus. In the second picture on the left, Sr. Doris is seen removing the crown after the ceremony as Sr. Rita stands with her proud daughter and grand daughter, Eleanor. Sr. Rita also received a ring as a symbol of her commitment to the Lord. No Profession Ceremony is complete without the signing of the canonical documents testifying that the Religious did, indeed, pronounced the vows--in this case the vows of poverty, chastity, obedience, and enclosure. (Because the Poor Clares are a cloistered community dedicated to a life of prayer, they take the added vow of enclosure.) In the picture on the right Sr. Rita signs the document as Srs. Doris, Ann Marie (middle) and Ann (behind on right) look on.
The Franciscans in the Cincinnati area have witnessed two Solemn Profession ceremonies this year. In an earlier post I covered the profession of our own friars, Brothers Al and Chris. Now we rejoice in the life-long commitment of our sister, Sr. Rita. Saint Francis held Saint Clare and her Sisters dear to his heart and promised, in the name of all Friars to come, to always see to the Sisters' needs. I have the privilege, along with many other Friars in the area, of celebrating Eucharist for the Nuns occasionally. It is always good to pray with them--and they feed us as well. :-)
Fr. Greg Friedman, O.F.M. stands at the front door of what was his father's grocery store when he was a boy. The business was closed many years ago, but today the building houses the newest adventure of St. Francis Seraph Ministries--the Canticle Cafe (see the picture on the left). Fr. Greg is now the Pastor of the parish as well as the Creative Director of the Electronic Media Department of St. Anthony Messenger Press. He, along with Brothers Tim Sucher, O.F.M. and Al Mascia, O.F.M., is seeking new and creative ways of ministering to the people of the Over the Rhine area of Cincinnati. Once the neighborhood of German immigrants, the Over the Rhine is now an inner city area with many problems that cry out for new ministerial approaches.
Brother Al (shown on the right talking with two neighborhood men) sees the new Canticle Cafe as an opportunity for the Friars and Volunteers of St. Francis Seraph Ministries to meet people in a casual context. Offering a warm place in the winter and a cool spot in the summer, the Cafe will offer beverages, snacks, and a welcoming place with friendly people ready and able to meet various needs. Eventually, the huge Sandwich Ministry (presently operating out of our provincial headquarters, St. Francis Seraph Friary, seen just to the right of the church across Vine Street in the picture) will be moved to the Cafe so that the hundreds who stop by each week will have a comfortable place to eat their lunch if they so choose.
In an upcoming newsletter from the Vocation Office I hope to interview Brother Al in order to highlight more fully the wonderful work of the St. Francis Seraph Ministries. He and the other Friars are making a concerted effort to follow in the footsteps of St. Francis who was able to see beyond the poverty and social/personal problems of many individuals and see a human being of infinite worth who deserves to be treated with dignity. The Canticle Cafe is the newest example of their efforts.