Monday, April 16, 2007

Fr. Francis Mary Stone at "Men of Faith" Retreat: Recap

What follows is a recap of a talk given by Fr. Francis Mary Stone at the Men of Faith retreat I attended at the Most Blessed Sacrament Friary in Newark, NJ, on March 24th. Exact quotes (as best I was able to write them) from the talk are denoted not just by quotes, but with blue text as well.

Background on Fr. Stone
Fr. Francis Mary Stone, MFVA (Franciscan Missionaries of the Eternal Word (Verbum Aeternum)), is the host of "Life on the Rock", a weekly program on EWTN. The MFVA order was founded by Mother Angelica.

Blessed Miguel Pro
Fr. Stone started by talking about Bl. Miguel Pro, the man of inspiration behind the day of prayer. "¡Viva Cristo Rey!" (Long live Christ the King) were the last words Pro spoke before being executed by firing squad in Mexico. He was truly a martyr for Christ, a Jesuit priest who met the spiritual needs of Mexicans during a period of intense religious persecution. He was arrested and convicted (without a trial) for a crime he did not commit. Before being executed, he thanked and forgave the firing squad. Fr. Stone said that such a man is a great model for us today, and that we should all have a saint (of our gender) to look up to in such a way.

Walking by Faith
Paul wrote in his Second Letter to the Corinthians (5:7) that we walk by faith, not by sight. Humans, even Christians, often transpose the two, preferring sight to faith when possible. But the light of faith is insurpassable: we see farther and more clearly by faith than with our own sight, our own understanding. Furthermore, the light of faith that shines for us does not shine only from God to you, but must shine through and off of you, affecting those you meet.

Accountability partners
"Friars travel two-by-two to save ourselves from pay-per-view", said Fr. Stone, explaining the need for all men -- even Franciscans -- to have someone they can lean on, depend on, and be held accountable to... and for safety. Jesus sent his Apostles out in pairs, certainly with these things in mind (cf. Mark 6:7). Fr. Stone talked about a few Catholic professional baseball players: Mike Sweeney, Jeff Suppan, and Mike Piazza. He mentioned the bench-clearing brawl Sweeney started when he went after pitcher Jeff Weaver of the Detroit Tigers... and the phone call Sweeney made to Weaver several years later to ask forgiveness which led to hours of conversation about Christ. He talked about Suppan's visit to the Vatican -- a vacation that became a pilgrimage -- where he attended a conference with Pope Benedict XVI about Church and sports. He talked about Piazza's intense devotion to his Catholic faith, attending Mass whether playing at home or away.

Standing Firm in Faith
Finally, Fr. Stone talked about the importance of being resolute and firm in your faith, especially when fulfilling your role as a father and husband. He talked about the latest encyclical, Deus Caritas Est (God is Love), by Pope Benedict XVI, and how it talks about the different kinds of "love", and how the love of (and from) God, agape, is the goal we should strive for in our relationships. It is a radical love, a risk-taking love, one that gives of itself freely for the betterment of its recipient.

He also said that there is no room for equivocation: you have to know where you stand and act accordingly. He brought up the example of Mother Angelica who, when faced with having to give airtime on EWTN to bishops with un-orthodox (or better put, un-Catholic) viewpoints on doctrines of the faith, said "I'll blow the damn thing [the network] up before you get your hands on it!" That kind of political incorrectness -- supporting the truth, instead of watering it down -- is necessary in this day and age. Orthodoxy -- right thinking in the faith -- is essential. Fr. Stone recalled the words of Paul: Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:2).

1 comment:

Tiber Jumper said...

What a blessing to hear such great teachers and examples of the faith!
Your adventures as a young faithful Catholic man in pursuing and strengthening the faith are great to hear about.
Had I met a Catholic like you as a young teenager, perhaps the appeal of the emotional, "vibrant" anti-catholic bible based christianity would not have been so appealing to me.
Keep up the good work!