In this week’s vlog, I talk about the story of true and perfect according to St. Francis. Below I have copied the story in its entirety for those who have never read it.

One day in winter, as Saint Francis was going with Brother Leo from Perugia to Saint Mary of the Angels, and was suffering greatly from the cold, he called to Brother Leo, who was walking on before him, and said to him: “Brother Leo, if it were to please God that the Friars Minor should give, in all lands, a great example of holiness and edification, write down, and note carefully, that this would not be perfect joy.”

A little further on, Saint Francis called to him a second time: “O Brother Leo, if the Friars Minor were to make the lame to walk, if they should make straight the crooked, chase away demons, give sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf, speech to the dumb, and, what is even a far greater work, if they should raise the dead after four days, write that this would not be perfect joy.”

Shortly after, he cried out again: “O Brother Leo, if the Friars Minor knew all languages; if they were versed in all science; if they could explain all Scripture; if they had the gift of prophecy, and could reveal, not only all future things, but likewise the secrets of all consciences and all souls, write that this would not be perfect joy.”

After proceeding a few steps farther, he cried out again with a loud voice: “O Brother Leo, thou little lamb of God! if the Friars Minor could speak with the tongues of angels; if they could explain the course of the stars; if they knew the virtues of all plants; if all the treasures of the earth were revealed to them; if they were acquainted with the various qualities of all birds, of all fish, of all animals, of men, of trees, of stones, of roots, and of waters – write that this would not be perfect joy.”

Shortly after, he cried out again: “O Brother Leo, if the Friars Minor had the gift of preaching so as to convert all infidels to the faith of Christ, write that this would not be perfect joy.”

Now when this manner of discourse had lasted for the space of two miles, Brother Leo wondered much within himself; and, questioning the saint, he said: “Father, I pray thee teach me wherein is perfect joy.” Saint Francis answered: “If, when we shall arrive at Saint Mary of the Angels, all drenched with rain and trembling with cold, all covered with mud and exhausted from hunger; if, when we knock at the convent-gate, the porter should come angrily and ask us who we are; if, after we have told him, “We are two of the brethren”, he should answer angrily, “What ye say is not the truth; ye are but two impostors going about to deceive the world, and take away the alms of the poor; begone I say”; if then he refuse to open to us, and leave us outside, exposed to the snow and rain, suffering from cold and hunger till nightfall – then, if we accept such injustice, such cruelty and such contempt with patience, without being ruffled and without murmuring, believing with humility and charity that the porter really knows us, and that it is God who maketh him to speak thus against us, write down, O Brother Leo, that this is perfect joy.

And if we knock again, and the porter come out in anger to drive us away with oaths and blows, as if we were vile impostors, saying, “Begone, miserable robbers! to to the hospital, for here you shall neither eat nor sleep!” – and if we accept all this with patience, with joy, and with charity, O Brother Leo, write that this indeed is perfect joy.

And if, urged by cold and hunger, we knock again, calling to the porter and entreating him with many tears to open to us and give us shelter, for the love of God, and if he come out more angry than before, exclaiming, “These are but importunate rascals, I will deal with them as they deserve”; and taking a knotted stick, he seize us by the hood, throwing us on the ground, rolling us in the snow, and shall beat and wound us with the knots in the stick – if we bear all these injuries with patience and joy, thinking of the sufferings of our Blessed Lord, which we would share out of love for him, write, O Brother Leo, that here, finally, is perfect joy.

And now, brother, listen to the conclusion. Above all the graces and all the gifts of the Holy Spirit which Christ grants to his friends, is the grace of overcoming oneself, and accepting willingly, out of love for Christ, all suffering, injury, discomfort and contempt; for in all other gifts of God we cannot glory, seeing they proceed not from ourselves but from God, according to the words of the Apostle, “What hast thou that thou hast not received from God? and if thou hast received it, why dost thou glory as if thou hadst not received it?” But in the cross of tribulation and affliction we may glory, because, as the Apostle says again, “I will not glory save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Amen.”

To the praise and glory of Jesus Christ and his poor servant Francis. Amen.

 

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This summer, I did something a little strange. Rather than being assigned to a specific parish or ministry site, I traveled the country on a preaching mission, stopping one week at ten different parishes. It was amazing.

By the numbers, here’s what the summer looked like:

  • 9500 miles (roughly) traveled
  • 85 days on the road
  • 48 Sunday homilies preached
  • 25 hour-long talks given
  • 20 YouTube videos produced
  • 15 beds slept in
  • 3200 miles traveled in a single day flying (Santa Ana to Newark to Chicago)
  • 787 miles traveled in a single day driving (New York to Chicago)

That… is something else. A summer unlike any I have lived before, and one that I probably won’t live again for a while. But I will live it again, I’m sure. That’s just one of the many things that I learned this summer, found in this week’s YouTube video.

In our family growing up, we had a rule: never say that something was the “last” time. Coming about not because of our fear of closure or bringing something to an end but because we had an uncanny ability to run into trouble when we declared something the “last.” For an example, I remember sledding all day once when I was about 10. We must have went down this hill 50 times without incident. But when my dad said, “Okay, this is the last time and then we’re going home,” somehow we forgot how to sled: we went too fast, lost control, flipped over, and banged our heads together. Such was the case for about a dozen things until we banned the word. Never say that it’s the “last” one.

Yeah… about that.

You’ll notice in this week’s video that I forgot our family rule. Not only did I use the word “last,” but I dramatically set it up as the focus of the video from the start. This was going to be the theme that I would run with throughout the vlog, trying to tie the events into a reflection of the trip.

Now, nothing went tragically wrong. I’ll say that. But mistakes were made, and I found myself truly limping to the finish line with this one. Tuesday afternoon came and I realized that I hadn’t filmed anything but the opening 1-2 minutes. What was I going to do with the video? Ugh. The curse of the last one. Even after I filmed on Tuesday to put something together, I realized that I did not once say where I was on this trip. Sorry St. Mary’s of Pompton Lakes. My bad.

Anyway, the mission itself went well and I really enjoyed being with the people of the parish. I hope that the video is fun to watch nonetheless, and that it might serve as a cautionary tail: never declare something the “last”!

Luckily for us, this is not the “last” video of the tour as I’m putting together some fun things from the weekend and plan on wrapping everything up with another video next week. Enjoy!

Last week I was in Raleigh, NC at The Catholic Community of St. Francis of Assisi. And really, to call it the “Catholic Community” is much more appropriate than to call it a church. This place not only has a giant worship space that serves thousands of people each weekend, it’s nearly 5000 families have access to an elementary and middle school, office space, recreational buildings (including a gymnasium, parish hall, library, and meeting spaces), a separate building for a daily mass and prayer chapel, and even two residential houses for special use. This is not your grandmother’s Catholic Church… (unless of course your grandmother lives in north Raleigh, then it might be.)

But beyond the opportunity to see one of the largest parish communities in the country, what made this stop interesting was the proximity to where I went to high school. Just a few minutes from the parish is my old house, high school, church, and a host of other places that offer a trip down memory lane. How did I feel going back? Well, my reaction was not exactly the same as what I felt in Greenville and Durham, we’ll say that.

All of that and more in this week’s vlog! I just arrived to Trinagle, VA where I’ll be preaching at St. Francis of Assisi Church. I hope everyone has a great weekend!

 

I’m in the midst of my summer vacation at my parents so I’ll keep this quick, but I have a great announcement that I would like to share with everyone about my ordination: it’s going to happen! Well, that’s not exactly news, but the date and location are set. On June 22, 2019, I will be ordained a priest at Immaculate Conception Church in Durham, NC by Bishop¬†Luis Rafael Zarama.

At this point, that’s all I know, but I will certainly keep everyone updated as the process progresses. ¬†For now, I’m enjoying a lazy and quite rainy Monday afternoon watching the Office on Netflix, so… I’m going to get back to that! I’ll be up and running again by the weekend where I’m headed to Raleigh, NC for stop number 8 on the Called Mission Tour! Catch you soon!