Friday, November 27, 2009

St. Francesco Antonio Fasani 1681-1742

Born and raised Lucera in southeast Italy, Francis Anthony was a pious and reserved youth who joined the Conventual Franciscans at age 14, in 1695. During the novitiate year he befriended a gregarious novice named Antonio Lucci who told him that "the fastest way to become a saint was through laughter." These two young friars remained friends and witnessed the importance of close fraternal bonds in the sanctification of self and the world. Francis Anthony served the community as a theology and philosophy professor, a novice master, and as a minister provincial. He was also a tireless confessor and minister of compassion among prisoners and those condemned to death. Known as "Padre Maestro" among the people of Lucera, Francis Anthony was especially dedicated to his work among the poor and destitute. Likewise, his friend Antonio was called the "Father of the Poor" when he served as the Franciscan bishop of Bovino. Saint Francis Anthony Fasani died in 1742 and was canonized in 1986. His friend Blessed Antonio Lucci died in 1752 and was beatified in 1989.

During his homily at the canonization of Francesco, Pope John Paul II reflected on John 21:15 in which Jesus asks Peter if he loves Jesus more than the other apostles and then tells Peter, "Feed my lambs." The pope observed that in the final analysis human holiness is decided by love. "He [Francesco] made the love taught us by Christ the fundamental characteristic of his existence, the basic criterion of his thought and activity, the supreme summit of his aspirations" (L'Osservatore Romano, vol. 16, number 3, 1986). (

The Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Luke (21.29-33)

Jesus told them this parable: Look at the fig-tree and all the trees. When they sprout leaves, you can see for yourselves and know that summer is near. Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that the kingdom of God is near. I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.

The Truth
(Homily by Fr. E.J.Tyler)

One of the great events in the history of the Anglican Church was the rise of the Oxford Movement, beginning formally in 1833. Within a short time John Henry Newman became its leader, and by 1838 he was the foremost intellectual representative of what might be called Catholic Anglicanism. His theory was firm and fearless: Christianity is the religion of the Scriptures and the early Church Fathers, and it is this that Anglicanism at its best looked to and embodied. For many, Newman was an oracle in both his defence of dogmatic religion and in his attack on Liberalism and Rationalism in religion - which was the forerunner of the Modernism of the early twentieth century, and the Relativism of our time. But then, at the height of the Movement, Newman sustained a serious blow. In 1839 Wiseman’s momentous article on St Augustine and the Donatists appeared in the “Dublin Review,” pressing home the parallel between the Donatists and the Anglican Church. It was a blow that turned the tide in Newman’s life. Five years later Newman was moving inexorably towards the Church of Rome, but one thing that deeply concerned him was that his change might lead to latitudinarianism and liberalism in some of his previous disciples. He wrote to John Keble that “a sort of latitudinarianism and liberalism may be the end of those (God forbid it!) whom I am keeping from Rome” (June, 1844). If the great teacher of Anglicanism could on his own admission have been in error all along, how could anyone hope to attain objective religious truth? Was religious truth a mere phantom, an illusion? In the event some did indeed become liberals in religion - such as Mark Pattison (1813-1884). Why do I mention this example of people losing faith because, as they saw it, there was no one whom they could trust as an authority in respect to the truth? It is meant as an illustration. It is yet another reminder of the wonder of Jesus Christ. He is the one person in human history who claimed to have the fullness of truth, who possessed it, and who asked for complete faith in himself. By trusting in him we possess the truth that saves.

In our Gospel today our Lord makes a claim that no prophet had made: “I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away” (Luke 21: 29-33). Consider those words, Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away. I have referred to Newman. In a lecture given in 1852 (Discourse 8, Idea of a University) he refers to Aristotle as the master philosopher: “He is the oracle of nature and of truth,” Newman writes, so much so that “we men cannot help, to a great extent, being Aristotelians.” Even if we grant that, still, Aristotle would never have claimed that “heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.” No man of sense would ever make such an audacious assertion - no man, except the Man who is God become man. One man has appeared on the stage of human history who is all that man aspires to know and love, such that eternal life consists in knowing him. As our Lord said in his prayer to his heavenly Father during the Last Supper, “Eternal life is this, to know you, Father, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” Jesus Christ is the absolute Rock of certitude for every man and woman of history. The task of each person is to turn to this Rock, and to build the house of life upon it. As our Lord said elsewhere in the Gospel, the sensible man is the one who builds his house on rock so that when the floods, the wind and the rain come, the house will stand. That sensible man is the one who hears the word of God as uttered by Christ his divine Son, and puts it into practice. There is nothing more certain than the person and word of Jesus Christ. Religion is not just a feeling. It involves knowledge of objective reality. The ultimate reality on which everything else depends is God, and God has revealed himself in his incarnate Son. We should resolve to live in him, knowing that in doing this we rest absolutely secure in the truth. This is precisely what Newman strove to do and succeeded so resoundingly in doing.

Let us resolve to base our lives on the person and the truth of Jesus Christ. “For this I came into the world,” he declared to Pontius Pilate, “to bear witness to the truth, and those who are of the truth listen to my voice.” His word will never pass away. Where, then, is Jesus Christ, and where is his word to be heard? Jesus Christ abides in his body the Church which he founded on the Apostle Peter. His word is present in the Church’s teaching, that teaching uttered in his name. We know where to go, and to whom we ought listen. Let us begin, then!

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