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Franciscan Brothers . Knightly Service . Radical Love

Helping each other to "Be Knights".

Glamour versus Grace

glamour-vs-graceOne of the most moving things I have ever read came from an unexpected place: the forward to a biography of a saint. I hadn’t even made it into the book itself, properly speaking. It was an old book, a life of St. Peter Claver written some sixty years ago. Forwards are often written by people other than the author, and constitute a sort of recommendation of the book by a figure better known to the public. This one happened to be written by that great writer of saints’ lives, Fr. James Brodrick.

What captured my interest was how Fr. Brodrick took exception to the way some people approach saints. Sometimes it happens that the very people who most admire a saint actually unknowingly decrease the reputation they deserve. Fr. Brodrick said that St. Peter Claver’s life had been filled with “appalling labours and sufferings.” Brodrick denied the claim that the cloak Claver wore, in which he used to wrap plague-victims and lepers, miraculously remained clean and sweet-smelling. “It stank to high heaven,” he said “and had to be washed seven times a day!”

How to Treat Girls

The-Knight-and-the-LadyI had a really interesting conversation with a friend the other day. As we were developing our thoughts, I tried to think of the right analogy to explain the fact that sexuality is not something we ever figure out and master, but something that we simply have to learn to deal with in as healthy a manner as possible.

I started with a shoe that doesn’t fit: it is uncomfortable, it rubs, its slips, but eventually you kind of arrive at a functional, working relationship with that shoe. Not great.

Next I tried a horse. Even worse.

The Problem Called Integrity

imageIn this day and age everything is decided by perception and by manipulating the crowd, not by an objective standard of right and wrong, nor by tradition. This is a sombre, melancholic thing to realize, but realize it you must, and respond to it in a Christian way you must as well.

We are not talking about far-fetched, rare circumstances either. What career would you like to follow? Name one. Anyone. Politics, and not right and wrong, will decide what happens to you there. And, although it’s easy to say, “I will always do the right thing because I am not afraid of the cost,” as any soldier of God should say, compromise and uncertainty about what the right thing is will always dog you. If you think that your doing of the right thing will actually be recognized for just that, you are in for a rude awakening.

God’s Will and my Will

my-roadThere are two types of errors about the relationship between my will and God’s will: they never agree, they always agree. I am sure that if you thought enough about it, you could think of people you know who fit into these two categories. Into which one do you fit? Like me, at different points in your life you have probably fit more into one than the other, depending upon how well or how poorly things in your life had recently been going .

St. Thomas Aquinas described an error of the first type as presumption, that of the second type as despair. Both he considered to be sins against the virtue of faith. I think it is a really good idea to think about how wrong these two attitudes are. Everything wrong is unhealthy. If you are presumptuous of God, that is unhealthy. If you are despairing of God’s help, that is too. God wants you to be healthy and happy.

Mottos, Then and Now

6436215The Kerrs are Scotch-Irish, I am told by my genealogist-friend; that is to say, Scots who settled in Ireland in the 17th Century by the Crown to increase the Protestant population in predominantly Catholic Ireland. My ancestors lived there for three centuries before moving to Canada – a long enough period of time to earn the Irish part of our racial designation. I grew up simply believing I was Scottish, as both my father’s and my mother’s last names were Scottish clan names. This being the case, I spent a little bit of time looking into my cultural origins. One of the things I enjoyed was looking at the Scottish clan crests and mottos. I love biblical history, and so the idea of ‘clans’ makes me think of the original twelve tribes of Israel.

‘Tribe’ and ‘clan’ are designations that do not mean a whole lot to many North Americans today. Do we not first identify ourselves by our nationality? Flag-waving at papal events always perplexed me, though – after all, nationalism is a modern construct. Did the original apostles brag about being from Galilee or Caesarea or Idumea? Actually, Paul said such things were ridiculous. (cf. Ph 3:4-6) The only thing that really matters is that we belong to Christ. (1 Cor 3:23)

Vocation is Heroic

A-Courtly-Couple-by-Holbein-YoungerThe renewal of baptismal promises strikes me as something as dramatic as anything you’d encounter in the most heroic parts of movies and novels. Picture the key scenes in Star Wars or Lord of the Rings – vows: vows imply that, despite great odds, my will is firmly committed to something.

“Do you renounce the lure of evil, so that sin may have no mastery over you?”

“Do you renounce Satan, the author and prince of sin?”

I do.

With All Your Mind

with-allHaving an opinion is good. Nearly everyone does. Religion is a funny matter in that, yes, there is truth and error in it, but in some of its aspects, the truth of religion can only be inexactly known. Yet there is no place for agnosticism, if that is supposed to mean that it’s okay to have no interest at all in the great questions of life. Catholicism has always insisted that knowing God is what life is all about.

That doesn’t mean we all can be nor should aspire to be theologians or philosophers. At the very least it does mean that of all the bodies of knowledge to which we dedicate ourselves to building up within us – at least outside of that which pertains to our profession – our knowledge of God should receive most of our time and effort. The results will really differ, obviously, from person to person. Yet we should all give learning about God a privileged place.


g24 25v-26r-intro-450x236Courtesy is a civic virtue. It is anticipating how others will be effected by our actions and then doing something about it in a positive way. I would say our culture has lost this virtue, and I would say it hasn’t realized it yet. And I would say that it has lost this virtue because it has lost the values that make acting courteously a necessity.

I am apt to say that these values are intrinsically Christian, but that might not be the case. I think Christianity makes being courteous easier and a no-brainer, but perhaps this is one of those virtues you don’t have to be Christian to practice. The Ancient Romans, to name just one instance, insisted on civic virtue. Unlike the Romans of the time of the Empire, the earliest Romans were all about the well-being of their community as a whole. They didn’t think primarily in terms of the individual. This is foreign in our thinking today and it was foreign to the thinking of the Empire. Today, we think primarily in terms of the rights of the individual.

Judge Not?

judgeLong before the media got a-hold of and twisted Pope Francis’ “Who am I to judge?” statement people have been criticizing Christians for failing to follow Jesus’ words, “Judge not.” They judge us to be hypocrites for judging others.

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?” (Mt. 7:1-3)

But if we are hypocrites then so too is Jesus when He tells us not to imitate the scribes and Pharisees. For, how will we know what not to imitate them in – they breathe, surely He does not that we should not breathe? – if we do not exercise some judgement?

Protecting the Heart Amidst a World of Concerns

archangel-michaelLife today is one worry after another, isn’t it? Just because you have faith, and are not wrapped up in concerns like global warming, pandemics and population growth, doesn’t mean you are free from worry altogether. I think most informed Catholics worry about the growing hostility of society toward them. How are we supposed to respond to legitimate worries?

We need to get back to our roots here. How did Jesus deal with thoughts like these? Some worries He cast away all together. He didn’t care about politics, what Herod and Pilate were up to. His mission didn’t depend upon the political climate of the time, or even how people took Him. But He did come to make a statement, one, indeed, with political implications. In fact, He would set off massive political ripples. But he wasn’t interested in political parties, and fitting Himself into the political landscape such as it was. But He did come to make divisions. He didn’t come just to blend into the background.


b16The great man of God, Pope Emeritus Benedict, has put himself in a sort of self-imposed isolation, for sake of prayer, to prepare himself for meeting God. This is what all Christians should be doing, at least to the extent that befits their vocations.

The life of contemplation is not something the world has a great deal of sympathy for. It’s not the way of the world. The world fills its time with accumulation, action and domination. A Christian needs to make room for what is essential to his human nature: listening to God and coming to know Him more fully.

A lot of strange interpretations have been offered of the story of Mary and Martha. (Lk 10:38-42) I cannot agree with the one that has almost become standard in the Catholic tradition: that Mary represents the contemplative life (the life of the Carthusians, for instance) and Martha the active (Franciscans, for instance).

The Heart of the Matter: Healthy Equals Holy

kaleThey call kale a ‘super food.’ Did you know that Catholicism is a super religion?

Kale very high in beta carotene, vitamin K, vitamin C, and calcium, it has anti-cancer properties, helps boosts DNA repair in cells, it lowers cholesterol and decreases the absorption of dietary fat. So says Wikipedia.

How is Catholicism a super religion? Do you know? Just because it somehow gets you a place in heaven?

Does Catholicism taste as bad as kale?


The-Conversion-of-St-AugustineIt’s a notion we take for granted. We all know what it means – but does our definition stand scrutiny; do we really know what we are talking about?

When I think of conversion, two people jump to mind first: St. Augustine and St. Paul. Their conversions weren’t identical, though. Augustine’s was far more gradual and far more intimately marked by his unique personality. St. Paul was probably much too spiritually deaf for such a thing to work in his case. God sung with the voice of a child to Augustine; He had to thunder and flash at Paul. Yet though they were different experiences of God’s grace, in the most important ways they were identical: in both cases conversion brought about a permanent and radical change for the better.

Theologians avail themselves of lots of different terms when speaking of God’s interventions in our lives, that is to say, the different kinds of spiritual gifts (graces) He gives us. These terms can’t unravel what is in essence a mystery, but they can help us to get a bit if a handle on it, and to help us to better appreciate and respond to His gifts.

Activity Stream

Br. David Mary added a new event yesterday

Jesus, Please Heal Me

Fr. Craig Doty (Prayer Teams available) Know the Loving,...

  • Friday, 02 November 2018 07:00 PM
  • Our Lady of Good Counsel Retreat House, 7303 N 112th Street, Waverly, NE

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