….THE LOVE OF ALL LOVES….

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…Having been a servant to my Master for over 8 years now you can say I have become very well acquainted with a departing soul and the emotions and feelings that surround it. The way it affects the family, friends, and those who knew and loved them….and so I wish to point out something some seem to somehow overlook….

I have come to find that each and every loss of a companion…from the largest to the smallest, invokes the EXACT  same feelings and emotions in a person as the loss of a human.

I myself feel each and every loss within my Parish as if I have lost a dear brother or sister of my very own. Though the companion or person is not part of my blood family, I have come to love them as I love my very kith and kin.

I feel the tears, the emptiness, the sadness, the despair, and the heartache of the loss…yes…I mourn the loss of a person or companion with equal tears and heartbreak…for it is a loving and caring soul that has left us for my Master’s Heavenly Mansions.

Now to many this may seem odd, and to some it may seem old hat, but to ME as a cleric it shines light onto something some either deny or would avoid…and that is that to the owner of a companion it’s SOUL is unquestionably real.

Throughout the Bible we hear of how much God loves us, how we are supposed to love one another, and how we are to be good ‘stewards’ of all He has given us…and when we lose one of these precious souls our lives forever change.

Some may dispute my reasoning, and although I have covered the subject MANY times in the past here in my sermons, I want to share my own clerical viewpoints on this subject.

Now, MANY say “Animals don’t have souls” and there have been disputes enough on that subject, but what I want to talk about is GOD’S LOVE for these same animals…err.. I think I should clarify that a little…on COMPANIONS.

See, there really is NO difference between man and the animals…as Ecclesiastes 3:18-21 points out…

“I also said to myself, “As for humans, God tests them so that they may see that they are like the animals.

Surely the fate of human beings is like that of the animals; the same fate awaits them both: As one dies, so dies the other.

All have the same breath; humans have no advantage over animals.

Everything is meaningless.

All go to the same place; all come from dust, and to dust all return.

Who knows if the human spirit rises upward and if the spirit of the animal goes down into the earth?”

It is in that thin line between ‘us’ and ‘them’ that I wish to speak of…is there any other being on this planet capable of giving such LOVE…such DEVOTION…such GRATITUDE for a life? I have failed to see ANY equal in that regard from ANY other being on this planet more DEDICATED to the principles God decreed MAN should follow.

If those blind fools who sit smugly in a pew and think that just because they have parked their carcass in a seat in ‘God’s House’ means they are somehow EXEMPT from following His laws regarding “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:30-31) and “So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other.” (John 13:34) …and the BIG one in Matthew 7:1 ““Do not judge so that you will not be judged. “For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you.…” (not to mention the cross point ALSO made in Luke 6:37 of “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.” ….but I digress)…they are SADLY mistaken….

Can any one of those same smug pew pounding Bible thumping types show MORE love than a companion?

I doubt it.

Are THEY following God’s decree to love Him and love each other? Nope.

And I will explain why…

A Companion’s love is UNCONDITIONAL…case and point: A dog (or cat, or rabbit, etc) who had a rough young life, perhaps with an abusive owner, can STILL learn to love and trust and become the constant and fulfilling companion to someone if they are adopted by another.

Patience, time, love, and trust are the rules of the day in that regard.

But can we say as much for the HUMAN animal? We hold grudges, exclude others based on creed, or religion…we hurt each other for no apparent reason THAN to hurt each other.

A companion only hurts in defense or in fear, and takes no delight in the hurting…not so man….

How BETTER to see the ‘Master Plan’ of God than to look into the eyes of a companion? WHO BETTER can teach us my Master’s DECREE of loving one another?

Does it not serve as much to say that THEY are CLOSER to God than WE are?

Do WE love unconditionally? No. For even two people who love each other with an intense and burning love, who love GOD as much as they love each other, STILL have restrictions on that love…oh…come now…let’s be honest with each other and ourselves. I can see the heads shaking ‘no’ even from behind my screen.

I am a cleric…capable of GREAT love, for I love my wife with every fiber of my being, and I love my Master with my whole heart and soul….and yet I can say I TOO FALL SHORT of that love. So, quit shaking your head and pay attention.

Answer me this: WHO BETTER to see as a role model for PURE love…UNRESTRICTED love…or COMPLETE FAITH than that of a companion? Does not a dog trust it’s owner WITHOUT reservation? When the ball is thrown does not the dog race after it KNOWING and TRUSTING that the owner would not throw it into harms way (like a busy road or off of a cliff) ?

Does not a cat know when a person is sad, or sick, and comes to comfort their owner to the fullest regard? Will it not lay there and watch over it’s owner and LOVE the owner until they are well again?

The Bible tells us in simple terms what I am trying to say….

“But ask the animals, and they will teach you,or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you;or speak to the earth, and it will teach you,or let the fish in the sea inform you.

Which of all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this?

In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind.

Does not the ear test words as the tongue tastes food?

Is not wisdom found among the aged? Does not long life bring understanding?” -Job 12:7-12

Who here does NOT understand this? Need MORE proof than this?

Okay…here…

“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” – John 15:13

Who here has NOT heard of a dog…a being who cannot operate a firearm, or a blade… jumping in front of harms way (a burglar, or mugger, or trespasser intent on harming the owner) to save their life only to have THEIR lives taken from them?

Who here would do the same for a complete stranger?

Are you sure…?

Would YOU lay down your life to protect your DOG? Or your CAT?

Then you must not have the PURE love, the UNCONDITIONAL love that a companion has…and therefore not the “greater love” spoken of in that scripture.

So when a companion departs, and I see people sneer at me for weeping or being saddened by the loss, I simply shake my head and see that THEY lack the pure and unconditional love GOD EXPECTS US TO HAVE FOR EACH  OTHER AND HIMSELF.

If you cannot show love to a dog or cat,or to each other, how can you say you love God?

“Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar.

For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.

And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.” – 1 John 4:20-21

Take a lesson from The Bible..and from a pet or companion… watch and observe them, and SEE the grand design God intended for us…that we should love EACH OTHER (yes, fur, feathers, scales, or skin) the SAME WAY HE LOVES US…He gave us His SON.

Was not His sacrifice the “Greater love” spoken of.

What have WE given HIM in return?

Follow His law…LOVE ONE ANOTHER…and in doing so:

“and if there is any other commandment, it is summed up in this saying, “YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.” – Romans 13:9b-10

SAINT OF THE DAY: 09 DECEMBER, 2014

Saint Peter Fourier

Parish Priest of Mattaincourt,
Reformer of the Canons of Saint Augustine,
Founder of the Canonesses of Notre Dame
(1565-1640)

Saint Peter Fourier

This priest of God was consecrated to Him before and at his birth by his pious parents, who destined their eldest son for the altars. His aptitude for study, his high stature and beauty added the gifts of nature to those of grace. The young man was noted in particular for his devotion to the Mother of God and his great modesty.

It was a surprise to all when he chose to consecrate himself to God in a religious Order which at that time had degenerated from its original fervor, that of the Canons of Saint Augustine.

He made application for entrance into the Abbey of Chaumouzey, founded in 1094, situated a short distance from his native village of Mirecourt in Lorraine.

There he made the traditional vows of poverty, chastity and obedience in 1587, and was ordained a priest in February of 1589.

Before saying his first Mass he passed several months of retreat in the exercises of prayer, penance and tears. He was then sent to complete his theological studies at the university of Pont-au-Mousson, also in Lorraine.

There Father Jean Fourier, a relative who was Rector of that University, directed him admirably. His progress in virtue and the sacred sciences placed him high in the opinion of the Cardinal of Lorraine and Bishop of Metz, who desired to have him in his diocese; he offered him a parish where his talents would bring him advancement. But the young priest, wishing to flee all honors, declined, to return to his Abbey.

There hell instigated against him a persecution; he was the brunt of raillery, threats, and intrigues, and an effort was made to poison him, which did not succeed.

For two years he lived in the midst of contradictions without complaining in any way to his abbot, who seemed unaware of what was happening; he increased in patience and kindness towards his persecutors. Eventually he was again offered a choice of three parishes, two of which would provide opportunity for advancement, while the third was in a village regarded as incorrigible and backward. It was the last one that he chose.

The people there were prosperous but more than indifferent to religion.

The Sacraments were neglected and the feast days profaned; the altars were bare and the church was deserted when he arrived.

He began by visiting families and assembling two or three of them to talk to them of the truths of the faith. He did not go to the banquets which followed funerals and weddings, save to offer the prayer of blessing or make a short exhortation. He did not accept a housekeeper, even when his own stepmother offered to assist him.

He prayed for the greater part of every night, and never refused to go where he was called, at any time or in any season. So little did he need for himself that he was able to give alms and assistance to the poor.

He prayed before Jesus on the altar: You are the principal parish priest, I am only Your vicar. And permit me to say to You, with all the humility of my heart, that You are under obligation to make succeed what I cannot.

He desired to remedy the evils of the times by forming children to virtue; and Providence soon brought to him several young women who offered themselves for the instruction of young girls. Within the space of only a few years, six schools were founded in the region, and before he died, about forty.

Blessed Alice LeClerc was the first Sister and first Superior of the Canonesses of Notre Dame, dedicated to the education of young women.

For this purpose Saint Peter was obliged to confide his parish to his vicar for a time, to journey and obtain the various permissions and assistance necessary; but it was God’s work and all efforts succeeded.

His own parish was gradually being transformed into a model, and priests came to visit it. One of them reported to his bishop the marvels of devotion he had seen in Mattaincourt, and said he had asked the parish priest where he had studied; Saint Peter had answered that he had studied in the fourth — corresponding in America to about the ninth grade.

Astonished, the visitor was yet more so when he learned that this modest priest had certainly studied in the fourth, as he had said, but out of horror for vainglory had wanted to dissimulate his years of higher studies.

The bishops were asking him to visit their parishes to preach missions where needed; the holy priest obeyed, amid his increasing tears and penance, as he perceived the vices and ignorance of the populations.

He also was concerned to reestablish the discipline and fervor of his own Order, an effort which had failed several times. But in 1621 the Bishop of Toul, Monsignor de Porcelets, entrusted this work to Father Fourier.

A house was found to begin the Reform, the vacant ancient Abbey of Saint Remi, and six excellent subjects were sent there under his direction. In four years, eight houses of the Order had adopted the Reform. A General Superior was named; for a time Father Fourier was able to avoid that office, but when the good Superior died, he was obliged to accept its functions.

Attacked by the devil, his influence distorted by calumnies,

Saint Peter’s only response was to spread everywhere devotion to the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin.

More than two centuries before the Miraculous Medal in 1830 and the proclamation of the dogma in 1854, he saw to the distribution of large quantities of a medal he had struck, on which were engraved the words:Mary was conceived without sin.

Saint Peter Fourier died in exile as an effect of the difficulties and political problems of the 1630’s; he found shelter in a province which was at that time under the Spanish crown, and there he died in 1640.

His spiritual sons, his spiritual daughters, the good people of Gray in Bourgogne, who had welcomed him and whom he had served admirably during an epidemic of the pestilence, all wanted the honor of possessing his mortal remains. But so did also the parish of Mattaincourt.

To the reformed Order of Saint Augustine this privilege was granted officially, but the pious women of Mattaincourt, blocking the church door, would not permit the Canons to resume their journey with the coffin, after they had stopped in his former parish for a day or so.

His heart had already been left to the parish of Gray.

Miracles have abounded at his tomb, as they did during his lifetime, by his prayers.

He was canonized by Pope Leo XIII in 1897.

(SOURCE: Les Petits Bollandistes: Vies des Saints, by Msgr. Paul Guérin (Bloud et Barral: Paris, 1882), Vol. 14)

READING OF THE DAY: 09 DECEMBER, 2014

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“Jesus said to his disciples: “What is your opinion?

If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them goes astray, will he not leave the ninety-nine in the hills and go in search of the stray?

And if he finds it, amen, I say to you, he rejoices more over it than over the ninety-nine that did not stray.

In just the same way, it is not the will of your heavenly Father that one of these little ones be lost.” -Matthew 18:12-14.