Our Lady of Consolation pray for us…

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August 14th, 2016 I witnessed a sea of candles held by pilgrims processing with the statue of Our Lady of Consolation. Thousands of people poured light over the country roads and campsites of Carey village, OH all along the half mile walk from Shrine Park to the Basilica.  The rains held off for an outdoor mass at Shrine Park, celebrated by the Bishop of Toledo Daniel Thomas and the Bishop of Lexington, KY John Stowe, OFM Conv with several Friars, Knights of Columbus, and seminarians participating.   The statue of Our Lady of Consolation is adorned with hand­made, priceless garments sewn by tailors and artisans.  Filipinos, Chaldeans, Albanians, Hispanics, Italians, Poles, Slovaks, Lebanese, and more have all donated these priceless garments.

OLCdresses

We have hundreds of these custom dresses locked up and on display at Our Lady of Consolation lower church, some have platinum threads, others are golden, some with jewels embedded in the fabric.  These dresses are valued beyond money and reflect one’s gratitude to the Blessed Mother. This tradition to dress the Blessed Mother in handmade dresses comes from Luxembourg and intends to gift only the best of the best to Mary in appreciation for the graces received from answered prayers.  Mary has been busy delivering graces in Carey, OH for over 140 years.  So many have received miracles that there are not enough days in the year for Mary to wear all the dresses. It all began with the first miracle in Carey and since that marvelous day the miracles have multiplied.

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On May 24, 1875, the statue of Our Lady of Consolation was carried in procession from the church of St. Nicholas in Frenchtown to the church in Carey. It was during this procession that the first sign of the special intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary was revealed. As the procession marched, a severe storm raged in the entire area. Though the faithful could see the rain pouring down on all sides of them for the entire seven ­mile walk, not a drop touched the statue of Our Lady of Consolation nor anyone in the procession. This memorable church, the place of so many favors granted through Mary, remains today not only as a relic of the past, but as a place of prayer and worship. Members of Our Lady of Consolation parish gather there for early morning Mass, and many groups celebrate the goodness of God with special programs and devotions within its walls.

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Fr Jim Sichko catches a “selfie” with Our Lady of Consolation, he has the most amazing friends!!!

 

 

5G Network

5G Transmitter
Metal antenna symbol with letters 5G on white

Cell phones are all the rage nowadays. So many people have them for good communication. We appreciate the 3G network, 4G network, and now 5G network. I’m not sure how they work exactly but I know they facilitate communication in more places throughout the globe and with stronger signals, therefore less dropped calls. When you have a strong network your good conversations will not be interrupted by a disconnected drop. If people discern well they must tap into God’s 5G network. This network allows for 5 key points of discernment, tuning our ears to God’s personal call for you. Good Godly communication requires these elements of the 5G network:

1. Grab a Bible

We need the daily word of God interacting in our lives to allow opportunities for God to speak to our hearts. St. Augustine began his discernment when he heard children on a playground singing a rhyme that said, “pick it up and read it.” And so Augustine picked up the book next to him and began to read the Bible. We need to give God the opportunity to draw us to him, and pick up the Bible and read it.

2. Go to mass

The Conventual mass has been a staple of Franciscan religious life for centuries. It is the community mass for the brother-friars and priest-friars. Friars have the advantage of the Sacrament of Eucharist every day and this gives God the opportunity to grant graces to us. And who could not do without additional graces? Regular opportunities to attend mass beyond the Sunday obligation is a fitting way to enrich your communication with God.

3. Go to confession

Regular confession frees the heart of past sins and allows one to pursue the thing that delights the soul. For each person the path of a vocation call is a different one, but first we loose the burdensome baggage of past sins and give ourselves over completely to the one who pursues us. Like the hound of heaven, the lapping love dog can not be dismissed or shaken from pursuit and at some point requires a response. We respond to the Lord’s love through confession, and even further is the enriching counsel of a spiritual director.

4. Gaze at the Lord in Adoration

Adoration is the meeting of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. St Francis of Assisi would often be taken up by Adoration and in his own words, “Oh Sublime Humility, Oh Humble Sublimity” Meaning God so humbled himself to be one of us, yet he was exalted in the highest heights of heaven, and he bent low to be human just like us. What an awesome dignity God showed us of humanity, and wonderful affirmation of all the things that make us human.

5. Glorify God by your lives

We are invited to represent God well by the testimony of our lives. That all we do, all we think of, all we dream about, everything that pulls on our heart will glorify God. “God has called us out of darkness into his own marvelous light (1 Peter 2:9.)” And we glorify God by the brightness of our life basking in that light.

 

When we tie these 5G’s together it makes for good communication with God, an open heart to discern God’s holy will for us, and clarification of just what God’s call is for us. Given the strength of God’s 5G network, we will have a clear signal toward our life’s direction, and we will suffer no more dropped calls.

Radical Living of the Gospel

Pope Francis is challenging clerics to depart from the stuffy sacristies and deliver the Gospel message to where the people are. Shepherds need to smell like the sheep they serve, not like the rectories where they live. Many are taking the Pope’s directive to heart, one group is friars living the radical Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ in Brussels, Belgium

“Not so much” says Conventual Franciscan Friar Jack Mardesic, “The mission trips are becoming less and less radical.”  Friar Jack has responded to an appeal from the Minister General Marco Tasca, the 119th successor of St. Francis, to continue a long history of friars serving the people of Belgium.  6 friars comprise the friary that are transforming the neighborhood through the joy of the Gospel, one person at a time.  Friar Daniel Marie Theveneh, OFM Conv. the guardian (superior) is from France; Friar Jean Luc Marie, OFM Conv. is from France as well, Friar Adrian Baciu, OFM Conv. is from Romania, Friar Giuseppe Panarisi, OFM Conv. is from Italy, Friar Bart de Pape, OFM Conv. is from Belgium and Friar Jack Mardesic, OFM Conv. is from Australia.

All 6 friars live in the arena of providence.  No transportation, no booked reservations, no meal plan, just a backpack, water and a breviary when they set out on 3 week mission.  “We experience the goodness of God’s providence” and the people open their homes and networks to give us all we need.  It is not long before we have a list of interested people that want us to stay in their homes.  We share our prayer with them, sing our hymns with them, and swap many great stories.  “Our missions are becoming less and less radical because the goodness of the people and we entrust ourselves to God’s wonderful providence.”  People give from their hearts whatever we need, however we never accept money while out on mission.  Friar Jack smiles with the many memorable stories of walking from the Italian capital of Rome to Assisi, the hometown of St. Francis.  Today the trip would be a 2 and 1/2 hour drive that took the friars 8 days to navigate on foot.  A walk that has not been led by friars for too many years to count.  The stories he encounters while walking with the people make the friars’ preaching come alive to the people, and they have an experience that touches the hearts.  He’s had atheists sincerely chase him down to say “God Bless You!” and homosexual guys who at first want to hassle them and later want to unload their wallets on the them.  It’s great to witness the change in character and transformation of people once they realize the reason the friars are on the streets.  “We have witnessed people healed, drug dealers shaking free of their addictions, God reaching out to give a healing touch to His people.” The friars are simply witnessing to the joy of the Gospel as St. Francis might have done 800 years ago.  Friar Jack emphasizes that there is nothing radical about it, that he is just taking Franciscan fraternity from the friary out into the streets.  “We live a very normal Conventual Franciscan lifestyle most of the year, only once or twice do we set out on an itinerant mission over the course of a year.”

St. Francis was called to the itinerant life that was always on the move taking the Gospel to the people.  His travels went as far as Damietta Egypt and as near as his hometown streets of Assisi.  In Belgium there has been a history of hostility to religious and Franciscan friaries have a heart-wrenching history of being suppressed.  Brussels has a large Muslim population much like Damietta, Egypt in the time of St. Francis.  Franciscans have a long tradition of reaching out to people of faith across denominational lines.  The friars are bringing the Gospel to the people and continuing the itinerant tradition unique to Franciscan history.  “Our prayer occurs 3 times a day, we pray the rosary together at Mid day prayer, and we fast every Friday.  It’s all the same stuff we do in the friary only now we bring it to people’s homes and invite whoever is with us to join in.”  And people receive the Gospel well.  Friar Jack met 2 enthusiastic youth living on the streets when one girl says, “you are so joyful and have to have the best religion ever, I want to join.  What religion are you?”  They have been taken into homes of gypsies, socialists, Muslims, and others curious about the Franciscan life.


Most of the time Friar Jack is not afraid but there have been some close calls with youth gangs and robbers.  The criminal element is there but when they realize the reason they are there, to share the love of Christ, the bad situations make a 180 degree turn for the better. I asked Friar Jack if his mom ever has any worries for his safety?  Jack says, “Not really, my dad worries a bit about his drum-banging boy and is afraid I’ll turn into his gypsy son.”  What is your best day in Brussels I asked Friar Jack, and he said, “My best day is playing the drums with the youth on the street and losing myself in the music, we have one guitar and I do percussion.”  The enthusiasm and the receptivity of the youth keep him inspired, but that doesn’t mean that he doesn’t get exhausted after a long weekend.  “Our task is simply to testify to the presence of Christ in the world, exemplified by the joy of our Franciscan fraternity.” Ephesians 6:19 summarizes the Franciscan mission well, “and as for me, that speech may be given me to open my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, so that I may have the courage to speak as I must.”  Here are 6 ambassadors of Christ set out on mission with courage to spread the Gospel with great conviction.  St. Francis must be smiling!

Peace and all good,

Friar John Bamman, OFM Conv.

A Time to Speak — A View from the Pew

It’s all about being open to that Divine nudge and I would imagine there are many in the herd with a short memory for making a stubborn stand!

The Record Newspaper

Merry Dougherty Merry Dougherty

By Merry Dougherty

On a recent college visit with our oldest son, he walked out of the information session and uttered (pun intended) these words, “Mom and Dad, you can try to make a cow move, but you really don’t get it to go anywhere until you prod it, and you guys didn’t prod me enough to study hard and get involved.” Really?

Of course my mind started churning, remembering all the nights I sat and explained to him how important it was to become more active at school and to always give his best effort academically if he wanted to go to a really good school. Of course, I didn’t have a prod to bump him on the shoulder or pop his bottom every time he elected to stop studying for the night. I also remember being met with, “Mom, I don’t want to do any of…

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Time to Cultivate

Time to Cultivate“Some seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it” (Mt. 13:7) Traveling from Minnesota to Texas and everywhere in between I’m always on the move.  Vocation work requires me to move outward and meet people where they are at.  My role is to nurture the call from God working in the soul who desires to do the Lord’s will.  Along my travels I saw the most tragic thing on the roadside.  It was a semi tractor overtaken by weeds.   A machine that was made to be on the move, rolling down the road and it was covered in weeds.  Wheels made to turn, motor made to rumble, a commander’s chair made for hauling and all were held captive by weeds choking out the truck’s purpose.  The essential nature of the very thing a truck does requires movement.  The purpose of a truck is to move!  Somewhere along the way that movement became stationary and the weeds choked it.  It was the saddest thing ever seen.
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We Franciscan Friars are called to be on the move.  It is uniquely tied to our charism.  Francis received the Gospel mandate to go forth to the world and be a missionary to plant the Gospel (Mt. 19:21 Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to [the] poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.) St. Francis of Assisi was called to carry the Gospel from Assisi, Italy to the streets of the world.  The Gospel message so moved his heart that he could not remain stationary.  St. Francis was the messenger and sent it to the streets.  Today there is not one continent on the globe that lacks a Franciscan presence to witness the Gospel.  This is why the Gospel continues to move outward today and cannot remain parked on the shoulder, overrun by weeds.

We are called to movement in the spiritual life as well.  The weeds of sin always have the capacity to choke out spiritual growth and tie us down.  The Gospel requires one to move and be willing to accommodate spiritual growth.  Archbishop Joseph Tobin tells of an Alcoholics Anonymous sponsor who was counseling a math professor.  The sponsor was not educated to the level of the professor, and when it came to math he could not keep pace. But when it came to sobriety, the math professor let the weeds of booze take root.  So in the first meeting the sponsor told the professor, you should know that I have only counseled 11 guys in AA and 6 of them committed suicide.  The professor was shocked and said, “why are you telling me this?  You are not all that successful in your counseling, you think?”  The sponsor said, “It’s my job to deliver the message, what you do with the message is up to God.”

We all have a spiritual message to deliver with the collateral of our lives.  This message cannot remain stagnant.  Either we move upward and onward toward our eternal destination, or the weeds will immobilize us.  What part of your life needs a bit of weeding?  Is there a neglected area that requires some focused attention?  An addictive behavior?  A bad habit at work? An internal voice that nags you with the repeat switch of shame?  Selfish time that could be filled with charitable outreach toward others?

We are called to be on the move.  The saints before us like St. Francis shared the Gospel and moved on.  Spiritual growth requires us to nudge forward and move on.  Keep those wheels rollin’ and see you at the next rest area!

Heaven Bound

For 10 years I was a professional CDL (Commercial Driver’s Licensed) driver who abided strictly by the Smith System of professional driving. These five steps of safe driving have kept me free of any collisions. This accepted code of professionalism prevents accidents and leads drivers safely to their destination. I argue these five vital tenets of safe driving can also guide the spiritual life and lead us toward our eternal destination.
1. Aim High in Steering
Yes it is all about vision. If we focus on our feet we collide into things, but when we look ahead a whole new world enters into our vision. We can be too focused on ourselves if we concentrate on introspective navel gazing. Ever watch a person try to read their iphone while walking on a crowded sidewalk? Look out ahead “gomer!” The “I” world of the iphone becomes too ego centered and one misses out on what “others” are doing in the “we” world of community. When we recognize others around us, whether hindrances or helpers, we get a better vision of the lay of the land, and respond accordingly. What selfish habit can I forego today in order to make room for the community around me?
2. Get the Big Picture
We are all on a destination to get to heaven, this is the big picture. What I’m doing today will help me step by step arrive at my destination. Do my daily activities fit into the big picture? Am I making small steps towards the direction where I eventually want to arrive? Am I grateful for God through all the blessings of this day? Do I take time to ask the guidance of the Holy Spirit to lead me to my destination?
3. Keep your Eyes Moving
Tunnel vision is such a danger in the spiritual life. When we fail to move our eyes we get sleepy and routinely stagger through life without noticing details. Do we make eye contact with the essential people around us? Do I notice the janitor, mail carrier, or food service worker behind the scenes? If our eyes are moving then we are aware of what is happening around us. Do we reflect on the joys and sorrows encountered every day? How did we meet Jesus in the people and events of our day? How did we respond to Jesus in the people God put on our path today? Any regrets?
4. Leave yourself an out
We need a safety zone around us to avoid accidents; I call this the safe pocket. Burnout happens when we over extend ourselves too far and we have no space to maneuver, no safety pocket to retreat to, no exit from the congested situation. God would have us maintaining good self care, just as a loving father looks out for his child, so our Heavenly Father looks out for us. What is missing from our life that prevents any flourishing to occur? Prayer time? Work out time? Study time? Family time? Job time? Leisure time? God made us to flourish, thrive, and grow. What essential thing is missing to make this happen?
5. Make sure they see you
“No man is an island” wrote the English poet John Donne and we need each other more than we care to admit. Loneliness can overwhelm any vocation. But the presence of the other person heals the wounds of loneliness. All of us participate in the mystical Body of Christ and in a personal way display Christ to others. Sometimes this happens without our knowledge or assent, God just works that way. When we were created by this awesome Creator, God claimed a majestic sovereignty and the right to work through us. Participate in any charitable cause and you will witness the fundamental goodness of the human person helping another person, and community flourishes. We need our brothers and sisters in community and the world aches for this visible community. We can’t survive it all alone, make sure they see you.

Okay there you have it, 5 safe spiritual tenets to get us to our eternal destination. Be safe on “The Way” and honk as you drive by!!!!!