Signs of the Kingdom of God

Reflection for the 11th Sunday in Ordinary Time by FAN Board Member, Sr. Margaret Magee, OSF

This reflection was originally published in our June 7th newsletter


I don’t know about you but I don’t often find myself sitting around thinking about the kingdom of God. Oh yes, I believe in the kingdom, especially that it is here with us, yet not fully revealed. I also believe that Jesus truly meant it when he said the kingdom of God is within us and that it is in our midst. However, life’s daily schedules, the cares and concerns of the present moment and, especially in this pandemic year, the numerous Zoom webinars and meetings, tend to keep me rooted in the here and now.

Nevertheless, like me, you might be seeing signs of new life emerging from the throes of winter and the ever-growing vaccine efficiency with the lessening of Covid restrictions. These promising signs anticipate feelings of hope, light-heartedness and a re-emergence of newness from the darkness and gloom of a pandemic. Perhaps we all need a solid dose of the hope and the refreshing breath of the kingdom of God. Our readings for this Eleventh Sunday of Ordinary Time are the right place to start!

Both the reading from the book of Ezekiel and the gospel of Mark 4:26-34 present us with delightful images of the kingdom through nature and creation. What Franciscan would not delight in thoughts of high and lofty mountains, seeds, plants, fruitful trees and winged creatures. All of this is in our Franciscan DNA. We are rooted and grounded in the God of all creation. We are immersed in a God who delights in beauty, creativity and imagination. To be connected with the Source of All Life, we must recognize that we are God’s creation, integrally one with all creatures and all of creation. We are called to express and make visible God’s kingdom of beauty, creativity and imagination. How are we signs of the kingdom?

One only has to spend time reading our Franciscan Sources to see how our charism and spirituality arose from people who were inspired, imaginative and creative. For St. Francis, my thoughts immediately went to a story in the Legend of the Three Companions, Chapter XVI. Francis had sent brothers to other countries to preach. Upon their return they expressed great bitterness because of the mistrust and harassment they experienced from some people and even from the clergy.

Francis, not to be deterred in the gospel mission, sought help from Rome for a Cardinal Protector. He did this because he had a dream. In his dream Francis saw a hen, small, black, with feathered legs and the feet of a domestic dove. It had many chicks and was unable to gather them under her wings. As Francis awoke from his dream he realized and said, “I am that hen, short in stature, and dark by nature…The Lord in his mercy has given, and will give me, many sons whom I will be unable to protect with my own strength. I must, therefore, commend them to the holy Church who will protect and guide them under the shadow of her wings.” Francis, poor, simple and humble, was definitely a man who lived with a dream and his eyes fixed on making the kingdom of God visible and nothing would dissuade him. In his later years his lyrical prayer of the Canticle of Creatures inspired and still inspires us today. Francis was intimately connected with all life and the kingdom, praising God through sun, moon, stars, wind, water, fire and yes even through our bodily death which is so much a part of the cycle of life.

Are we living as signs of God’s kingdom? Our world today is in need of creative and imaginative people who are intentional and attentive to the signs of God in our midst and who speak and witness to the gospel of God’s love, mercy, compassion and justice. In the words of John E. Lewis, “If not us, then who? If not now, then when?” May our gift to God be this one precious life we have been given. May God’s breath and Spirit fill us with the creative imagination and courage to give our lives totally to bring the kingdom to birth in our time.

Sr. Margaret Magee, OSF
FAN Board Member

Published in: on June 8, 2021 at 10:30 am  Comments (1)  

A Divine Gift Offered Unconditionally

Reflection for the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ by FAN Executive Director, Stephen F. Schneck, PhD

This reflection was originally posted in our May 31st newsletter


In the summer of 1964, I was eleven, growing up in Clinton, Iowa, and my parents bought our first color TV – the first in our neighborhood. Mom was across the street at the Klinkners, playing euchre with other moms, and I was in charge at home, as the oldest of four brothers.

In fact, with my brothers, I was playing “knights,” which involved a wagon and a broomstick in the living room. Predictably, the brand-new color TV had its picture tube broken. Panicked, I offered a deal to God that I would go to Mass every day for a year if God would somehow fix the TV or brainwash my parents so that they would not notice. I’ll spare you the details of what happened next.

Yet, that same kind of thinking is sometimes seen in the Old Testament approach to God. For example, the first reading for this Sunday is from Exodus, relaying how Moses offered the blood of young bulls and the promise of the people of Israel to heed the Commandments in exchange for divine favor. That covenant seems transactional, an exchange, much like the eleven year old me promising Mass attendance for a color TV miracle.

With Christ, we know, comes a different covenant, a New Covenant that can never be understood as transactional. Sunday’s second reading, from Letter to the Hebrews, spells this out clearly. St. Paul explains Christ “entered once for all into the sanctuary, not with the blood of goats and calves but with his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption.”

We are redeemed not by our human hands offering things to God. Nothing we can do or promise or offer could win us redemption. Redemption is, instead, the ultimate gift. It is the person of Christ, who is himself God, freely giving his life in sacrifice — as a gift to overcome the weakness of sin. No matter how pure we try to be, no matter how many good works we do or how carefully we follow the Commandments or how many Masses we promise to attend, we can never live a life worthy of redemption. Ultimately, redemption is Christ’s gift to us, from the overflowing of divine love for us and the infinite generosity of grace. We are free to choose or reject this ultimate gift, but it is offered unconditionally by God.

On Sunday, the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, we celebrate exactly this, because every celebration of the Eucharist is that same divine gift offered unconditionally to us.

The poignant words of Mark’s Gospel explain:

While they were eating,
he took bread, said the blessing,
broke it, gave it to them, and said,
“Take it; this is my body.”
Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them,
and they all drank from it.
He said to them,
“This is my blood of the covenant,
which will be shed for many.”

In the Eucharist the New Covenant is offered to us unconditionally at every Mass, utterly the same as Christ’s sacrifice on Calvary. No quid pro quo, nothing transactional is present in receiving Holy Communion. Nothing we could ever do could earn us this gift. It is not a trade. Never a “thing” given in exchange for what things we sinners could ever do. We could never hope to be worthy of the person of Christ – the Body, Blood, soul, and divinity that is the Eucharist.

Indeed, Holy Communion is the ultimate gift, given freely by God for our redemption. Pope Francis, as is often the case, puts this so well. The Eucharist, His Holiness affirms, “is not a prize for the perfect, but a powerful medicine and nourishment for the weak.” Amen.

Stephen F. Schneck, PhD
Executive Director


Published in: on June 1, 2021 at 10:30 am  Leave a Comment  

Wise and holy Memorial Day lessons– dare we learn?

By Tony Magliano

Tony Magliano is an internationally syndicated Catholic social justice and peace columnist whose writings are published in print and/or posted online in various U.S. diocesan papers. His views do not necessarily reflect those of the Franciscan Action Network.


Image by Jim Plante from Pixabay

Memorial Day in the U.S. – the last Monday in May – is a time when Americans honor U.S. combatants killed in wars. It is a day of intense nationalism with lots of flag waving accompanied with a perceived need for military strength – even superiority.

But with more than 1 million Americans who have lost their lives fighting in America’s many wars, isn’t it about time for Christians to finally put an end to militarized nationalism which accepts ongoing war as “normal,” and instead make the time around Memorial Day an opportunity for prayer and reflection on how to become modern-day peacemakers in the spirit of the nonviolent Jesus?

The healthiest, holiest way to honor combatants killed, is to stop sending new combatants to take their place – to kill and be killed – again and again!

Since 9/11 approximately 7,000 U.S. troops have lost their lives in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Pakistan; with well over 50,000 wounded – many seriously. And about 7,000 U.S. military contractors have also been killed.

Thousands of U.S. combat personnel have returned from war zones in Iraq and Afghanistan with serious brain diseases linked to open-air “burn pits” – where all trash is burned. This highly toxic soup, including plastics of all sorts, pollutes the air breathed by U.S. troops and many native children, women and men. And yet, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has made it extremely difficult for many veterans to obtain proper treatment (see: https://to.pbs.org/3bZ5837).

And let us not dare forget the number of innocent civilians killed in these conflicts – conservatively well over 1 million deaths (see: “Costs of War” video: http://watson.brown.edu/costsofwar/).

Wars that the U.S. has fought since Sept. 11, 2001 have caused over 37 million people to flee for their lives (see: https://bit.ly/3wG0cbB).

The U.S. has approximately 800 military bases in about 80 countries – far more than any other country (see: https://bit.ly/2QU0Z9s).

And that’s not all.

There are approximately 70,000 U.S. Special Operation forces – including Navy SEALs and Army Green Berets – operating in 149 countries. That’s a deployment of combat personnel to more countries than any nation has ever sent military personnel to. Ever! (see: https://bit.ly/2ABnQJG).

So much of the world is at war, or making weapons of war, or buying weapons of war, or preparing for war, or all of the above (see: https://bit.ly/148IlwL).

Hellishly, the war machine keeps rolling along grinding up countless human beings. And for what? Well, for two things for sure: the age-old sins of love of power and money.

Flexing their muscles, nations spend an astronomical $1.7 trillion annually on their militaries (see: https://bit.ly/2rg4XsQ), while in comparison very little is spent on ending global ills like hunger, poverty and homeless.

The U.S. is the largest exporter of weapons of war, followed by Russia, France, Germany, China and the U.K.

Of the six companies worldwide that profit the most from weapons sales, one is British (BAE Systems), and five are American – General Dynamics, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, Boeing, with Lockheed Martin being the world’s largest arms dealer selling over $40 billion worth of weapons in 2016 (see: https://bit.ly/2I6EHM2).

In the Second Vatican Council’s document “Gaudium et Spes” (Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World) the world’s Catholic bishops declared and warned, “Therefore, we say it again: the arms race is an utterly treacherous trap for humanity, and one which ensnares the poor to an intolerable degree. It is much to be feared that if this race persists, it will eventually spawn all the lethal ruin whose path it is now making ready” (see: https://bit.ly/3yIQsio).

Tony Magliano is an internationally syndicated Catholic social justice and peace columnist. He is available to speak at diocesan or parish gatherings. Tony can be reached at tmag6@comcast.net.

Published in: on May 29, 2021 at 10:30 am  Leave a Comment  

How to live the values of the Memoriale Propositi in today’s context

By Attilio Galimberti, OFS

FAN friend Attilio Galimberti, OFS made a recent presentation at the 800th Anniversary of the Memoriale Propositi at Basilica of Saints Cosma and Damiano in Rome. His presentation is posted here, with his permission.


Attilio Galimberti, OFS during his presentation

As an Order in the Church, although a lay Order, the Secular Franciscan Order has a Rule that guides its members in living Christian values in the light of Franciscan spirituality in today’s world, performing the role that the Second Vatican Council identified for them.

In order to understand HOW to live the values of the Memoriale Propositi in today’s context, we must first analyze what those values are and find how they are reflected in the current Rule that, we can suppose, the members of the OFS live (or try to live) to the full.

The Memoriale Propositi has the same goals as the Rule of 1978 and is addressed to the people of their own time. One might therefore think that what was proposed in it might not be timely for us and no longer valid for our day; however, since we are dealing here with Values, they have a universal import and create a substratum on which we build our life. Therefore, it is an exciting experience to set out in search of the similarities or common roots to see how the way of making those values alive may have changed.

The incipit of Memoriale Propositi tells us from the start that it is a program of life of the brothers and sisters of penance living in their own houses and it fits quite well with what is found in article two of the current rule when it states that “the brothers and sisters, led by the Spirit strive for perfect charity (what Memoriale Propositi calls penance) in their own secular state.

What strikes the modern and perhaps even superficial reader is the fact that the rather than being a project of spiritual life as the incipit quoted would lead us to suppose, Memoriale Propositi seems to be transformed into a series of rules and prescriptions that make it seem like a heavy legal document, one that is certainly not attractive to the 21st century reader.

It enumerates norms about the manner of dress, of keeping certain periods of abstinence and fasting, the manner of prayer, norms about confession, the way of living in the “temporal reality” and the life of fraternity and these very detailed norms that verge on meticulousness.

Why is this necessary? Probably it still bears the influence of the monasticism that had shaped life in medieval Europe. In their life the monks paid an almost obsessive attention to the rhythm of time and rule, to aesthetic regulations and liturgy and in some way, the brothers and sisters of penance, children of their day and age, found their model and inspiration in these “masters”.

I will leave these questions to those with have the historical expertise to offer an academic response and return to the theme I have been asked to address, that is, the task of discovering the values of Memoriale Propositi in order to understand how to live them or how, even unconsciously, we are already living them today.

I believe I would not be wrong to suggest that the Memoriale Propositi may actually be or is hiding a treasure, but a treasure that is well hidden; however, I think that in hunting for this treasure we would do well to use our current Rule as a map to follow to discover it.

Daily Life

In article 11 our map says: “Let the Secular Franciscans seek a proper spirit of detachment from temporal goods by simplifying their own material needs.”

It seems to me that these words are a wonderful synthesis of all the prescriptions that the Memoriale Propositi offers us in regard to dress: the men shall dress in humble, undyed cloth…; outer garments laced up and not open… the sisters shall wear an outer garment and tunic made of cloth of the same price and humble quality.

The goal to strive for is the same, that is that Secular Franciscans live in a just relationship with earthly goods, but while for us we begin with substance (the word “seek” in order to arrive at the form… for our brothers and sisters of 800 years ago they began with form in order to arrive at the substance.

Without a doubt what is proposed to us today requires a notable maturation and continuous verification. Judged with our own eyes this mode is certainly more attractive but also much, much more difficult because of the ease with which we tend to justify our shortcomings or our “lightness.”

I offer just a brief reflection on the question about the manner of dress. The penitential movement on which the form of life proposed by Francis was established with certain specifics he gave it provided that its members would assume a public commitment which was also marked by the “habit” that immediately distinguished those who had undertaken this life from all the others. Perhaps this is the reason that particular emphasis has been given to this aspect.

Abstinence and Fasting

Articles 6-11 of the MEMORIALE PROPOSITI treat these topics and they do so in great detail, although our rule presents in a greatly nuanced manner in article 7 that is taken up again in the General Constitutions in Article 13.3 – Especially for these two points the differences with today’s world are significant and the article of the Constitutions just mentioned states only that: penitential practices such as fasting and abstinence, traditional among Franciscan penitents, are acknowledged, appreciated and lived according to the general norms of the Church.

Certainly, all the details of Memoriale Propositi mirror what was indicated by the Church, since the penitents were assimilated among the religious (although living in their own homes) the norms are much more demanding.

However, although the form may be changed, the substance remains the same: live in a spirit of ongoing conversion.

Prayer

Personal prayer in its varied forms specified by the Memoriale Propositi, this too in great detail, must fill the day of the penitents. In Article 8 our rule goes to the heart of this topic: let prayer and contemplation be the soul of all they are and do. This is the soil in which to work, and in order to make it fertile we are told: participate in the sacramental life of the Church, above all the Eucharist. Let them join in Liturgical prayer in one of the forms proposed by the Church reliving the mysteries of the life of Christ.

We are told the very same things but in a different manner, in accordance with the times and cultures (after all, 800 years lie between us)!!

The Sacraments, Other Matters

I believe that the chapter concerning Confession and Communion is the point in which the change is most apparent (from Confession three times a year and Communion at Christmas, Easter and Pentecost). Today, at least in what regards Communion, there is a radical change; we know that it is believed that there is a crisis in regard to the Sacrament of Confession, and so this topic is in need of a profound personal and fraternal reflection.

Memoriale Propositi states : Do not take up offensive arms against anyone and do not bear them. This is certainly a great value that, in order to be put into act, required a great effort, both spiritual and willpower, because it was normal to bear arms.

Our form of life is not so specific, but in various articles it appears as a model of non-violence, is the path to follow today when this choice still requires great strength of spirit and will (Articles 11-13, 15). Then, too, in article 23.2 of the General Constitution the topic of refusing to bear arms is taken up again in more modern language in the statement: “they should respect the choice of those who, because of conscientious objection, refuse to bear arms.”

Special Mass and Meeting Each Month

In these articles we find step by step what is also asked of us today. The monthly Mass and the meeting of the fraternity are values that we hold today, too, but their lack because of Covid has had a profound effect on the life of our fraternities. Its substitution by Video conferences or formation webinars certainly does not have the same “pregnancy” and impact, but at least they have helped us not to lose contact, even visually.

There is the beautiful passage about the contribution (a sore spot and therefore a value that we would do well to examine and reflect on deeply), which Memoriale Propositi also offers practical examples concerning its use.

This gives rise to a consideration that I offer first and foremost to myself. This celebration is helping me think that the Memoriale Propositi is not simply a manuscript that, once the anniversary is past, should be closed up again and shelved and forgotten until the next centenary. Rather, it is a living document that is still useful for us (me), offering guidelines that help in the concrete living out of the values the rule proposes. Furthermore, it has been the guide and inspiration of many of our brothers and sisters.

What is striking today is the fact that the figure of the Spiritual Assistant is not yet defined: … “if it be convenient at the time, they are to have some religious who is informed in the words of God to exhort them and strengthen them…”.

Visiting the Sick, Burying the Dead

Here too the Memoriale Propositi is very specific and detailed. but the value of these corporal works of mercy is very much alive in today’s fraternities and the second part of article 19 motives us to perform these works “immersed in the Resurrection of Christ”

Beginning with article 25 until the end of the document, in addition to discussing the topic of peace among the brothers and sisters in fraternity or of disputes with civil authorities that we find are not treated directly in articles of the present form of life, it discusses the topic of life in fraternity and offices and we find many similarities with the third part of the rule.

What perhaps is most striking is that in the Memoriale Propositi there is no inclusion or connection of the movements of the penitents with the other Franciscan groupings of the time and therefore, to the seculars of our time this seems to be something lacking in regard to how we experience our relationship with the other Franciscan realities which the current rule mentions and confirms in the first three articles, inserting the OFS in its own right in the Church and the Franciscan Family (under the guidance of a Rule approved by the Pope).

A second idea the Memoriale Propositi is missing, but I think it is because we are living our Vocation after a fundamental event, the Second Vatican Council; is that there are no direct references to the Gospel, while instead Article 4 of the present Rule states quite unequivocally: the Rule and Life is to observe the Gospel. ….

However, this invitation was obvious for the brothers and sisters of 800 years ago.

In conclusion, as I have already mentioned, when this anniversary is over, let us not forget this treasure, but rather use it concretely and give continuity to the path of our Order; and why not get a little help from some of the prescriptions found in it to live fully the form of life that is our spiritual habit. I believe I personally shall follow this advice that I am offering.

Professed in 1982, Attilio Galimberti, OFS is a member of the International Council of OFS and lives in Milan, Italy

Published in: on May 28, 2021 at 10:30 am  Leave a Comment  

It’s All About Community

Reflection for the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity by FAN Intern and OFM Postulant, Nolin Ainsworth.

This reflection was originally posted in our May 24th newsletter


Photo Credit: Nolin Ainsworth

I couldn’t tell you much about the Trinity at the time.

When I started following Christ, I didn’t have a clue how to articulate the three persons of the Holy Trinity. I didn’t know about the hypostatic union or the story of St. Nicholas’s staunch defense of the Trinity in the face of heresy at the Council of Nicea in AD 325 (it got violent).

But I did know something of Christianity’s central mystery when I began attending Bible study as a wide-eyed sophomore at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks. Each week that I sauntered out of my room and over to the neighboring dorm for the meeting, I just understood the power of community founded on love and relationship.

The Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity finds the church back in Ordinary Time, ready to set out with Jesus on his preaching and teaching mission. Almost to prepare for the journey ahead, we are grounded in the central truth of the Christian faith as we recount the commissioning of the disciples to make disciples of all nations, “Baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit …” (Mt 28:19)

What did my first Christian community have in common with the Trinity? It was deeply loving and deeply relational. Want to experience God? Build and maintain relationships through self-giving and self-sacrificial love.

“One discovers the presence of God by discovering the love that unites the community,” says theologian Michael Himes. “That is our highest and best experience of God’s presence.”

It’s no wonder that a fracturing church turns people away. To enter into the triune God is to enter into full union with ourselves, our local and global community, and the earth.

What started as just something to do – read and discuss and few Gospel passages with friends – became something much more: A catalyst for lifelong friendship; a catalyst for the very presence of God.

The ministry leaders accepted me for me. Their easy demeanor and many ways of relating to others drew me into the mystery of God. I still remember feeling tickled when one of the staff asked for permission to include a picture of me in one of her letters to fundraisers: “I am asking them to pray for student leaders and wanted to put a face to the name.”

“Wow,” I thought. “She must really treasure me.” Wrapped up in my gratitude was another realization: I’m treasured by God.

This is surely the realization that St. Francis had in his life, probably many times. Sr. Ilia Delio, OSF says intimacy with God is the springboard from which we strive for justice. It is what powered St. Francis’s mission, and it can power ours too.

“The more (Francis) could, in a sense, be at home with that love of God within him, the more he found a creative way to deal with the oppositions in his community, to deal with the conflicts with the church, with those around him,” she said. “Conflict requires creative resolution, it does not require more conflict.”

Nolin Ainsworth
FAN Intern and OFM Postulant

Published in: on May 25, 2021 at 10:30 am  Leave a Comment  

Choose Your Image

Reflection for Pentecost Sunday by Franciscan Action Network Associate Director, Sr. Marie Lucey, OSF

This reflection was originally posted in our May 17th newsletter


The month of May, “Mary’s month,” began with the feast of Joseph the Worker, the “quiet” member of the Holy Family, now celebrated in two feasts in the Liturgical Year. Near the end of May, we celebrate the coming of the most elusive member of the Blessed Trinity, the Holy Spirit. While the Trinity, Three Persons in One God, is the great fundamental Mystery of our faith, God Father, Creator, and God, Son, Incarnate in Jesus, are more easily depicted in tactile images, thus more comprehensible to our finite intellects. God Spirit can leave us floundering in attempts to depict, let alone understand the Third Person of the Trinity.

But now we celebrate Pentecost, the great feast of “Shavout” for the Jewish community, 50 days after Passover, and for Christians, 50 days after the Resurrection, when the Holy Spirit descended on the apostles. The scriptures this week offer several images of the Holy Spirit: “a strong, driving wind,” “tongues of fire,” breath, Advocate. In the early years of the Church, following her “birth” on Pentecost, the Holy Spirit had center stage. Many passages in the Acts of the Apostles refer to the disciples calling on the Spirit, being filled with the Spirit and directed by the Holy Spirit. The Spirit was very real to those early disciples, inspiring, prompting and encouraging them to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ. Clearly, the Spirit, Third Person of the Trinity, was and is active, motivating and sending Christians out into the world.

Through the centuries, as the Church became more institutionalized, the Spirit, though always with the Church, faded somewhat in human experience, with the crucified and risen Jesus, the Son of the Father, most central to the Christian faith, available through the Eucharist and depiction in the arts, and with people in their suffering. The Holy Spirit seemed less relevant and available in the busy, secular, expanding world. More recently, the Spirit has been “rediscovered” as many people felt the need for nourishing their souls in this increasingly materialized society with its goal of accumulating wealth. Many people, whether professing a religion or not, yearn to deepen their spirituality, satisfy their thirst for Divine Presence animated by the Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit who is Breath of God in us, energizing fire in the soul, urging us Christians, as on that first Pentecost, to go out into the world like a strong wind, or a gentle whisper, or a burning fire, bringing a message of love, truth and mercy, and serving as advocates for justice.

Sr. Marie Lucey, OSF
FAN Associate Director

Published in: on May 18, 2021 at 10:30 am  Comments (1)  

Denying Eucharist over abortion dangerously ignores the big picture

By Tony Magliano

Tony Magliano is an internationally syndicated Catholic social justice and peace columnist whose writings are published in print and/or posted online in various U.S. diocesan papers. His views do not necessarily reflect those of the Franciscan Action Network.


Tony Magliano

St. Paul, in his first letter to the Corinthians writes, “When you meet in one place, then, it is not to eat the Lord’s supper, for in eating, each one goes ahead with his own supper, and one goes hungry while another gets drunk. … Do you show contempt for the church of God and make those who have nothing feel ashamed? What can I say to you? Shall I praise you? In this matter I do not praise you.”

And then, after reciting the earliest written account of Jesus’ institution of the Lord’s Supper in the New Testament, Paul further emphasizes the need to always celebrate the Eucharist with a proper respectful spirit. And warns that, “Whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily will have to answer for the body and blood of the Lord.”

And so in light of the biblical admonition not to receive the Eucharist unworthily, some U.S. Catholics, led by several U.S. bishops, are strongly advocating that the Eucharist be denied to Catholic politicians who promote abortion.

While on the surface this appears to be a legitimate position to pursue, logically and morally it’s just not that simple.
Abortion – the intentional killing of an unborn baby – is always, in every situation, under all circumstances, objectively gravely sinful.

I once interviewed the late Nellie Gray, the founder of the annual March for Life in Washington, D.C. She told me that if just Catholics alone tirelessly stood up and demanded an end to abortion, it would end! So, why are we – both laity and clergy – not tirelessly standing up for these little brothers and sisters who are being brutally ripped apart every day?

People, especially those in leadership positions – very much including politicians – who support abortion, should be pastorally and boldly challenged by their pastors and bishops to stop the killing!

However, if pastors and bishops take the further step to deny Holy Communion to abortion proponents, then logically, consistently and morally they should likewise do the same to all those who promote and participate in all the other many death-dealing actions and inactions – certainly including destructive legislative and public policy decisions – that also inflict brutality and barbarism upon humanity and humanity’s earth home!

Politicians promoting legislation and policies supporting war and various armed conflicts, arms sales and grants, nuclear weapons, global warming and earth destroying fossil fuels, the death penalty, and euthanasia should be firmly told that such behavior displays a clear disregard for God’s commandments to love all people – including enemies – and to care for all of creation.

And likewise, those who ignore or give relative token assistance to refugees and all other desperate brothers and sisters suffering and dying from hunger, poverty, human trafficking and religious persecution should be challenged on their fitfulness to receive the Eucharist.

But in the final analysis, no human being can know the inner workings of a soul. That is God’s domain. To signal that a soul is not worthy to receive Jesus in the Eucharist crosses over into territory where angels fear to tread.

Instead, what is firmly, regularly and consistently needed is courageous preaching and teaching that all life, from the moment of conception to natural death – especially the poor, vulnerable and also our earth home – need and deserve the full active support of all who claim the name Christian. And that those who are working against life, who are indifferent to life, may be in a state of serious sin; and should seriously consider not receiving the most holy Eucharist until their death-dealing behavior changes.

Tony Magliano is an internationally syndicated Catholic social justice and peace columnist. He is available to speak at diocesan or parish gatherings. Tony can be reached at tmag6@comcast.net.

Published in: on May 15, 2021 at 10:30 am  Comments (1)  

“These signs will accompany those who believe,…”

Reflection for the Ascension of the Lord/7th Sunday of Easter by FAN Board Member Br. Paul Crawford, OFM Cap.

This reflection was originally posted in our May 10th newsletter


It is without a doubt that in our world there is much suffering.

Thinking back on Pope Francis’s visit to the Church of Iraq in March of this year, we saw a Church that had been overwhelmed by violence, hatred, and real persecution to the breaking point. Most of the Church buildings had been desecrated and far too many of the believers killed or displaced by a political movement of hatred and violence.

It took even more violence to free up and hopefully give this part of our Church a new chance! Yet, there is a new spring in the Church and people that show us how God works in our midst, in spite of ourselves.

The early Church at the time of the writing of this week’s readings was in a similar uncertainty. The Apostolate and the believers were just adjusting to Christ being put to death and rising again. But somehow Jesus was in their midst preparing them for their future call and destiny. The readings call out to us to understand that for those who believe, great things are yet to happen. Perhaps the greatest promoter of this is Blessed Solanus Casey, a Capuchin who trusted in God’s providence and intercession for the many who came to him for advice, assistance, and direction in their lives. He would tell so many (and would also tell us now) to “Thank God ahead of time!” And he was right.

For those of us who encounter the margins of our Church and Society we know that somehow God still steps into the dialogue and touches and changes hearts. After a time of great need, there is always a new wave of the Spirit that moves in our midst, changes our lives and gives us a new beginning.

Let us pray for a greater outpouring of the Spirit that changes us to be more welcoming of the stranger, willing to stand with the marginalized and outsiders of society, and speak truth to power.

Br. Paul Crawford, OFM Cap.
FAN Board Member

Published in: on May 11, 2021 at 10:30 am  Leave a Comment  

When beloved individualism runs into the common good

By Dan Misleh

This reflection was recently published in a newsletter of the Catholic Climate Covenant by Dan Misleh, the Executive Director. These views do not necessarily reflect those of the Franciscan Action Network.


Dan Misleh

Clearly, I live in a bubble. Having worked in the Catholic Church my entire career, the importance of the common good and solidarity are as familiar to me as baseball is to a baseball fan. As Catholic Christians, we are, in fact, called to be our brother’s and sister’s keepers. Yet I continue to be puzzled by how many people embrace—as if it is an article of faith—the ethos of American individualism. This ethos is seen in the “choice” of bringing a baby to term or in the flaunting of the obligation to protect ourselves and our neighbors from COVID by wearing a mask. Too many of us act as though we’ve never even heard the terms solidarity or the common good. I often ask myself, what happened to love of neighbor and the expansive definition of neighbor that is defined so clearly in Matthew 25? I wonder why so many embrace individual “rights” but ignore the corresponding “responsibility” to secure those rights for others.

Over the years, responses to the climate crisis have been similar. Instead of seeing the threat to current and future generations, too many of us go about our fossil fuel-fueled lives as if their lives don’t matter. Sure, we have a right to own a car and heat and cool our homes, but we also have a responsibility to protect others from a warming planet resulting from these behaviors. We ignore the science because it asks us to change our lives, to live more simply, and to take seriously that we are co-creators with God.

None of us perfectly live our faith. But, at a minimum, we ought to be questioning the dangers of runaway individualism and be willing to think beyond our own needs and desires.

As we enter into the sixth anniversary of the release of Laudato Si’, I pray that we can be reminded, as Pope Francis says so eloquently, that all is connected, that we must hear both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor, and that we’re not faced with two crises, one environmental and one social, but one crisis that is both environmental and social.

In gratitude,

Dan

Dan Misleh
Founding Executive Director
Catholic Climate Covenant

Published in: on May 5, 2021 at 10:30 am  Comments (1)  

Love is of God

Reflection for the 6th Sunday of Easter by FAN Member and Advocate, Sr. Maryann Mueller, CSSF

This reflection was originally posted in our May 3rd Newsletter


“Let us love one another, because love is of God;
everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God.”
(1 Jn 4:7)

What beautiful and appropriate readings we have this sixth Sunday of Easter, a day in the United States when we remember and celebrate Mothers. This year, we are drawn to remember those mothers who are among the over 560,000 people who have died from the Coronavirus.

Sadly, we also need to remember the mothers among, or impacted by, the over 43,500 people who died from gun violence this past year in our country. Many children are grieving the loss of their mothers this past year. Many mothers are grieving the loss of their children.

According to the gun violence archives, we are on track this year to surpass the number of deaths last year due to guns. In the first four months of 2021, over 12,800 people have died from guns, including over 400 children under the age of 17. Why are children and teens living in the United States fifteen times more likely to die from gunfire than their peers in 31 other high-income countries combined? When did the right to purchase a gun override a child’s (or any person’s) right not to be shot?

“I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain.” (Jn 15:16)

Even after all too many mass killings of children, our society cannot find the political will to change laws to protect our children. As of the middle of April, there were 147 mass shootings in our country this year, more than one mass shooting a day. Let us pray that the latest mass shooting may prove not to be just another tragedy from which we learn nothing.

Whenever we advocate for legislation that addresses gun violence, we witness to the tradition of peacemaking handed down to us from Saints Francis and Clare of Assisi. Let us create a society not only safe for every child but also worthy of each Mother’s child.

Sr. Maryann Mueller, CSSF
FAN Member and Advocate

Published in: on May 4, 2021 at 10:30 am  Leave a Comment