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2014 Reflections #1

Jesus, our Brother

I was re-reading a book by Fr. Benedict Groeschel, CFR, "A Priest Forever." This is the beautiful story of Father Eugene Hamilton, who passed away from cancer on his ordination day to the priesthood. Not a day goes by that I do not receive a prayer request from or about people who suffer from this disease that is often terminal. In this book, the author tells of the visit of Pope John Paul II in 1995 to St. Joseph's Seminary at Dunwoodie (NY), where fellow seminarians included Eugene's name in the prayer intentions prayed by the Holy Father, while Eugene was in the hospital. And Eugene recalled at the time how overwhelmed he was with the intercessions where he was mentioned, and the sense of gratitude he felt that we are really never alone in our trials and suffering.

WE ARE NEVER ALONE in trials and suffering - Jesus, our Brother, is always at our side, helping us get over the anguish and pain no matter how we feel about Him. Some people have lost all faith somewhere between their Baptism and the current experiences, and feel even more abandoned when a deadly disease comes their way. Jesus is so close ... they need only whisper that they are sorry for having offended Him, and when the opportunity arises to make a good Act of Contrition before a priest. Hospitalized people cannot always receive Sacramental absolution, as not all hospitals have priests nearby who can get there in time when a person is dying. We hope they can, but God understands a hearty "I'm Sorry" as a dying declaration in prayer, when one is at death's door. God listens, and He sees in our hearts and He knows our inner disposition. But when a person is still able to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation and priests are available, then penitents should avail themselves of this beautiful Sacrament.

We, in general, have no idea when a person dies, what his or her inner disposition was at the point of passing. It is not important for us to know, but it is important for the dying soul to be genuinely sorry for any mortal sins that haven't been confessed and forgiven. We do not know if a soul not sorry for mortal sins can get into that state called Heaven. We can only depend on God's mercy and compassion, and we know He has plenty of that. So we hope that many souls are nevertheless saved.

Our Protestant brothers and sisters would have us believe that once a person is Baptised, that person is saved. What about the person who leads a life of crime? That just doesn't make sense to save that this soul is nevertheless saved. Baptism gives everyone the potential to be saved, but we have to do our very best to sin no more. And people keep telling me that is impossible. Well, it is not. Look at the Saints and Blesseds - they sinned once in a while, sure, but not major stuff.

The time at the end of one's life may be short, this is why it is so important to prepare by keeping close to a God who loves us dearly, by attending at least Sunday Mass, and receiving the Holy Eucharist. Do non-Catholics get to Heaven - sure, but they have to live a holy life too, in their own way. So we can all get on the right track, and it is my hope that you will not postpone this effort. God bless you.

Fred Schaeffer, OFS
September 13, 2010
FR2-534

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Secular Franciscan Order
Ordo Franciscanus Sæcularis

Divine Mercy Fraternity

Vero Beach, FL

 

Officers as of 1/10/2016

 

Minister:
Fred Schaeffer, OFS
Vice-Minister:
Helen Caldarone, OFS
Secretary:
Mary "Jean" McGovern, OFS
Treasurer:
 
Jack Reddy, OFS

Formation Director: 
Donna Haro, OFS

Councillor-at-Large:

 Joanne Giordano, OFS

 

Webmaster:
Fred Schaeffer, OFS

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