Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Starfish

by Br. Michael Lomas, OFM


While walking on the beach yesterday evening, my brothers and I came across a starfish washed up on the shore. We marveled at it's beauty then eventually threw it back into the ocean. As I reflected on this event during compline (night prayer) I was reminded of a story:
Once upon a time, there was an old man who used to go to the ocean to do his writing. He had a habit of walking on the beach every morning before he began his work. Early one morning, he was walking along the shore after a big storm had passed and found the vast beach littered with starfish as far as the eye could see, stretching in both directions. 
Off in the distance, the old man noticed a small boy approaching. As the boy walked, he paused every so often and as he grew closer, the man could see that he was occasionally bending down to pick up an object and throw it into the sea. The boy came closer still and the man called out, “Good morning! May I ask what it is that you are doing?”
The young boy paused, looked up, and replied “Throwing starfish into the ocean. The tide has washed them up onto the beach and they can’t return to the sea by themselves,” the youth replied. “When the sun gets high, they will die, unless I throw them back into the water.”
The old man replied, “But there must be tens of thousands of starfish on this beach. I’m afraid you won’t really be able to make much of a difference.”
The boy bent down, picked up yet another starfish and threw it as far as he could into the ocean. Then he turned, smiled and said, “It made a difference to that one.”

Sometimes I think we fail to see the importance of ourselves and the little daily things we do that go unnoticed to us but mean the world to those around us. I was reminded this morning at Mass that "at some point God looked down and noticed that the world was missing something; something important, something vital and necessary, and so you were born." The world is a big place and it can be very easy to feel small and insignificant, but the truth is that we all have a purpose; a reason that extends past our human understanding and encounters the divine when we trust and look through the eyes of faith. 
There is so much hurt and hate going around right now, especially in our country, we are facing an overwhelming amount of fear and futility. There is an insurmountable number of starfish on the beach before us, but if we ban together, look past our differences to see the divine inside one another and reach our hands and hearts to those who are in need, like the child throwing starfish into the sea, we can be the tiny difference that is needed to make this world a better place. We can be the gift we were intended to be. Remember that you are loved!

Br. Michael Lomas is currently a novice with the St. Barbara Province and residing at the Interprovincial Novitiate, Santa Barbara, CA. He is 29 years old and from San Jose, CA where he worked in Youth and Young Adult ministry for ten years, prior to joining the friars.

Franciscan Friars
Office of Vocations
1500 34th Ave.
Oakland, CA 94601
Phone:  (408) 903-3422
Email:  vocations@sbofm.org

Friday, July 21, 2017

Virtual Tour of Porziuncola Nuova with Brother Didacus

Porziuncola is the name of the little church outside of Assisi that St. Francis repaired and made as the first home for his group of brothers. This church is still in existence now but is contained in the large Basilica of St. Mary of the Angels (Santa Maria degli Angeli) in Assisi. In 2008, a group of devout followers of St. Francis in the city that bears his name, San Francisco, managed to build a replica of this little church next to the Shrine of St. Francis in the Little Italy neighborhood. Brother Didacus is one of the volunteer docents that greet all visitors with typical Franciscan warm hospitality.

To learn more about the Porziuncola Nuova, visit http://www.shrinesf.org/Porziuncola/porziuncola.html





Franciscan Friars
Office of Vocations
1500 34th Ave.
Oakland, CA 94601
Phone:  (408) 903-3422
Email:  vocations@sbofm.org
Facebook:  www.facebook.com/SBFranciscans.Vocations
Twitter:  www.twitter.com/SBFranciscans
Website:  www.sbfranciscans.org

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Reflection on the Feast of St. Anthony and Peacemaking

June is a time of both sadness and joy many people. In a scene all too familiar, June seems to bring the specter of death upon the world. On June 12, 2016, 49 people lost their lives at a shooting in Orlando. It was the deadliest shooting incident of violence against LGBTQ people in the United States. Two years ago on June 17, 2015, nine people in Charleston South Carolina died in a mass shooting at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. On June 14, 2017, there was another mass shooting in Washington, D.C., although there were no fatalities, many are wounded. However, for Franciscans, June can also be a time of joy. On June 13 of every year the Franciscan family around the world celebrates the feast day of St. Anthony of Padua. How are these two events connected?

Among these disparate events, the connection is one that is  both simple and one consistent throughout the Gospel: love, love of one’s neighbor or friend. St Anthony in a sermon on the love of God and neighbor stated that “on the fourth day God said: 'Let there be two great lights in the firmament.' " For St. Anthony, these two lights were the love of God and the love of one's neighbor. The love of God represents itself by the sun, while the moon which reflects the dark radiance of this divine love, is the love of the neighbor.

This love is made manifest in all the horrific shootings and acts of violence throughout the world. As many of the survivors of these shootings have told their stories, time and again, the message was clear, how these brave people time and again gave up their safety and security to protect their friends, families, lovers, and colleagues. This is the definition of the love that St. Anthony was talking about and one that God has placed within all humans. As Franciscans, both professed religious and lay Franciscans and any people of good will who follow the Franciscan teachings of peace have a responsibility to keep this value alive by spreading the love of God and the love of peace in their daily lives.


Br. Jeff Durham is a Franciscan friar in formation with St. Barbara Province. He holds a dual masters degree in theology and ministry from the Franciscan School of Theology.
Jeff currently resides at Mission Santa Barbara, California, and working at the Mission Archive Library. His research interests include the history of the Franciscan intellectual tradition and the intersection between theology and technology.


The Provincials of the seven OFM Franciscan provinces in the U.S. released a statement after the Pulse Nightclub shooting last year. You can find the statement here.

Franciscan Friars
Office of Vocations
1500 34th Ave.
Oakland, CA 94601
Phone:  (408) 903-3422
Email:  vocations@sbofm.org
Facebook:  www.facebook.com/SBFranciscans.Vocations
Twitter:  www.twitter.com/SBFranciscans
Website:  www.sbfranciscans.org

Friday, June 9, 2017

The Lord Gave Me Brothers (Like Didacus!): A Reflection by Br. Juan-Jose Jauregui



And after the Lord gave me some brothers, no one showed me what I had to do, but the Most High Himself revealed to me that I should live according to the pattern of the Holy Gospel.  -- St. Francis of Assisi, “Testament”


Watching Brother Didacus spending time doing his favorite hobby—putting together his electric trains-- makes me think of what Francis said about the brothers. One of the most powerful experiences for me in the community is living with the older friars, because I personally think it would be very hard for me to be a Franciscan living on my own without them. They are the ones I can look up to as good examples, or with whom I can even just have a cup of coffee in the morning and chat.

I know in my own faith journey as a Franciscan and a Christian, I am following Francis walking toward Christ and searching to have a good relationship with the Lord and my brothers. I would not have been able to accomplish anything without the grace of God and the help, support, and companionship of my brothers. Truly, the Lord gave me brothers.




Br. Juan-Jose Jauregui has been a friar of St. Barbara Province since 2010. He is a native of Zacatecas, Mexico and moved with his family to the Bay Area when he was young. He is currently the Assistant Director of Formation for our Temporary Professed brothers at Mission San Luis Rey, Oceanside, CA.

Franciscan Friars
Office of Vocations
1500 34th Ave.
Oakland, CA 94601
Phone:  (408) 903-3422
Email:  vocations@sbofm.org
Facebook:  www.facebook.com/SBFranciscans.Vocations
Twitter:  www.twitter.com/SBFranciscans
Website:  www.sbfranciscans.org