Category Archives: Franciscans

Where are you?

Creation of Eve Michelangelo2.jpg

very first question that God asks man in the Bible is, where are you?  “The Lord called to the man, and
said to him, where are you?” (Genesis 3:9)  It is not a question that demands sophisticated answers nor
are there multiple answers to this question. Rather, it is a question of concern from a loving
father and the only demand placed upon this question is that one answers
truthfully, even if the truth exposes something to us that highlights our selfishness
and our need for God.

Before God asked Adam this question Adam had committed a
sin by disobeying God’s commandment and ate from the tree God had forbidden him
to eat from. Adam had forgotten
about God’s love and choose to place his own will and desires over the will and
desires of God. Now Adam, ashamed
and afraid (which is always the fruit of sin) tries to hide from God because he
realizes something dramatic has occurred in his relationship with the Lord. The Lord simply asks him, Adam, where
are you?

This question, as old as the Bible itself, God continues to ask us
today. Throughout our lives,
throughout each day, and often several times a day, God is continually asking
us, “My son or my daughter, where are you?  In other words, where is your heart right now?  Is it tired, frustrated, angry?  Is it overwhelmed by the demands of
life?  Is it engrossed in selfish
activities?  Is it immersed in lust,
pride, envy, jealousy, etc?  Is it
distracted by the things of this world?

When the Lord asks us this question it
is an invitation from him to turn our eyes away from the many distractions we
often promote and to turn our eyes once again towards Him. It is our Father, gentle tapping us on
the shoulder and calling us back to Him. 
Rather than living in future events, or reliving past wounds over and
over again it is an invitation to experience God in the present moment, the
only place where we can be guaranteed to encounter God.

Brother Jeremiah Myriam
Shryock, CFR, a Fourth Year Seminary Student Saint Joseph’s Seminary-Dunwoodie,
Yonkers, NY. Brother Jeremiah was ordained a deacon on May 29, 2010 with three
other Franciscan Friars of the Renewal by the Most Reverend Manual Cruz, an
auxiliary bishop of Newark. A poem of Brother Jeremiah’s, “After Eden,”  
was published here.

Gabriel Robert Scasino takes the Franciscan Conventual habit

the Conventual habit2.jpgYesterday morning (May 8) my friend Gabriel Scasino was invested in the habit of the Order of Friars Minor Conventual (OFMConv) at Saint Bonaventure Friary (Forestville, MD) during Lauds. His Minister Provincial, Father Justin Blase, presided at Lauds, blessed the habit, and then invested Gabriel with the Habit. Father Justin then celebrated the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Friar Gabriel belongs to the Immaculate Conception Province.

So you may ask, What is the habit all about? The habit is the religious garment of the person who takes the evangelical counsels (poverty, chastity, obedience). It is a sign (used here in the religious/philosophical sense) of something deeper than the person wearing the garment and it is a sign and symbol of Christ and the Church. As a point of comparison, diocesan priests would wear a cassock or a 

Gabriel dons the Conventual habit May 8 2010.jpg

clerical shirt of some sort. Nevertheless, most religious orders of men and women have a habit, usually some stylized clothing of a former era, though some sisters and priests may wear secular clothing because the founder didn’t specify a habit because of the era in which the congregation was founded (e.g., Missionary Servants of the Most Blessed Trinity) or like Saint Ignatius of Loyola who told his disciples to dress as the respectable priests of the day. Orders like the Benedictines, Carmelites, Augustinians, Dominicans and the Franciscans have a habit to identify themselves as living as the poor: simple attire. The habit is a witness to someone greater than me; and believe it or not, the habit often opens more doors to Christ than one might realize because many people recognize a habit as a garment that expresses virtue.
The use of the habit may depend on the context in which the religious is living and working. In some cases color and type of fabric may be relative. However, what is clear is that the habit is not optional; it is not circus clothing, it is not for dress-up. The habit ought to help the person wearing it to take into account his or her life in Christ, preaching the Gospel and living the vows.

Gabriel takes the capuce.jpg

So, for my purposes here, let me quote from the Constitutions of the Order of Friars Minor Conventual we learn what the habit means for the Conventual Franciscan in relatively direct terms:
The religious habit of the friars, the sign of our consecration and of our community and a witness to poverty, must be simple and modest, poor and becoming. It consists of a black tunic with a capuche and a white cord. In certain places, for a reasonable cause approved by the Minister General with the consent of his definitory, the grey habit may be worn.

According to custom, it is laudable to wear –suspended from the cord– the Franciscan crown of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

The friars must wear the habit of the Order. The Minister General, however, for particular reason and as long as these last may permit another form of dress (97; emphasis mine).

Provincial gives the Pax.jpg

As you can see from these photos, Friar Gabriel and his conferes are wearing the grey habit, which the other Conventual provinces around the world are beginning to adopt as it is seen as the more authentic habit of the Conventual Franciscans.
Friar Gabriel Robert Scasino and I are from the same town, when to the same high school and our home parish is the same, though Gabriel is much younger than I am. He was a Conventual Franciscan for 7 years has been out for about 7 years and has been mercifully and graciously been re-admitted to the same.

Gabriel Scasino & postulants May 8 2010.jpg

Beginning next week Friar Gabriel will spend 3 months in Assisi, Italy, doing a Franciscan course of study with the aim of putting him in touch with the Franciscan way of life by locating himself at the heart of Franciscan life.
Friar Gabriel will make a profession of temporary vows on the feast of Saint Joseph Cupertino, September 18.
May God grant Friar Gabriel many years as a Conventual Friar.

New York’s new priests 2010

TM Dolan arms without galero.jpgNew priests will be ordained for the Archdiocese of New York and the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal, these are their stories… Our New Priests (CNY article).pdf

The 7 diocesan men and the 3 from the CFRs will be ordained on May 15, 2010 by Archbishop Timothy Michael Dolan at Saint Patrick’s Cathedral at 9 a.m.

Daniel Sulmasy: Franciscan Friar-Doctor-Ethicist appointed Presidential post

Br Daniel Sulmasy.jpgNot long ago President Obama appointed Franciscan Brother Daniel Sulmasy, MD, to the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues. He’s universally well-received for his competence, compassion and humor. Oh, yes, the President did appoint a Catholic, a religious and a pro-life member to the commission.

Brother Daniel is a professed member of the Order of Friars Minor of the Holy Name Province and he’s a friend and collaborator with Communion and Liberation. He spoke at the first annual New York Encounter in January, 2010.
Until last year he worked here in NYC until he took a job at the University of Chicago.
The National Catholic Register ran an article on Brother Daniel.
An interview with Brother Daniel, “Doctor and Brother” by Joan Frawley Desmond
The Franciscan announcement.

The Secular Franciscan Order: A pope’s recommendation to join

Pope Leo XIII.jpgPope Leo XIII begins Humanum Genus (the 1884 encyclical
on Freemasonry) by acknowledging the divided heart of humanity since the Fall
man and woman: there are “separated into two diverse and opposite parts, of
which the one steadfastly contends for truth and virtue, the other of those
things which are contrary to virtue and to truth. The one is the kingdom of God
on earth, namely, the true Church of Jesus Christ; and those who desire from
their heart to be united with it, so as to gain salvation, must of necessity
serve God and His only-begotten Son with their whole mind and with an entire
will. The other is the kingdom of Satan, in whose possession and control are
all whosoever follow the fatal example of their leader and of our first
parents, those who refuse to obey the divine and eternal law, and who have many
aims of their own in contempt of God, and many aims also against God.”

One his
recommendations was to advocate the faithful’s vital membership in the Third
Order of St Francis, today called the Secular Franciscan Order. Himself a Third
Order Franciscan, Pope Leo’s recommendation didn’t fall on deaf ears because
diocesan seminarians, priests and bishops joined the Third Order and millions
of the laity followed suit. Here is what Pope Leo XIII said:

St Francis detail.jpg

Wherefore, not
without cause do We use this occasion to state again what We have stated
elsewhere, namely, that the Third Order of St. Francis, whose discipline We a
little while ago prudently mitigated,* should be studiously promoted and
sustained; for the whole object of this Order, as constituted by its founder,
is to invite men to an imitation of Jesus Christ, to a love of the Church, and
to the observance of all Christian virtues; and therefore it ought to be of
great influence in suppressing the contagion of wicked societies
. Let,
therefore, this holy sodality be strengthened by a daily increase. Amongst the
many benefits to be expected from it will be the great benefit of drawing the
minds of men to liberty, fraternity, and equality of right; not such as the
Freemasons absurdly imagine, but such as Jesus Christ obtained for the human
race and St. Francis aspired to: the liberty, We mean, of sons of God, through
which we may be free from slavery to Satan or to our passions, both of them
most wicked masters; the fraternity whose origin is in God, the common Creator
and Father of all; the equality which, founded on justice and charity, does not
take away all distinctions among men, but, out of the varieties of life, of duties,
and of pursuits, forms that union and that harmony which naturally tend to the benefit
and dignity of society. (34)

*The text here refers to the encyclical letter Auspicato
(Sept. 17, 1882), in which Pope Leo XIII had recently glorified St.
Francis of Assisi on the occasion of the seventh centenary of his birch. In
this encyclical, the Pope had presented the Third Order of St. Francis as a
Christian answer to the social problems of the times. The constitution Misericors
Dei Filius
(June 23, 1883) expressly recalled that the neglect in which
Christian virtues are held is the main cause of the evils that threaten
societies. In confirming the rule of the Third Order and adapting it to the
needs of modern times, Pope Leo XIII had intended to bring back the largest
possible number of souls to the practice of these virtues.

Perhaps there ought
to be a new appraisal of the vocation to the Secular Franciscans with the encouragement to join!

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]
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