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Opinions expressed in this Blog do not necessarily represent views of the Bishop for OFE,  Abbot General for OFE, the OFE Board, the Abbey Board, the OFC Advisory Board, or any other members of OFE, OFES, COFE, Sanctification of Families Union of Saint Francis of Assisi, Theotokos Association of Catholic Priests,  and OFE Charters.


Little Li
By Father James Wallace
Little Li grew up in communist China in the 1950s. Taught by nuns in her local parochial school, the ten-year-old once asked the nuns why Jesus didn’t instead say, “Give us this day our daily rice?” One day communist soldiers came into the village and, after ransacking the school, ordered everyone into the church.  The commandant blasphemed Christ and had his soldiers fire at the tabernacle.  He then proceeded to take the ciborium out of the broken door and fling all the consecrated hosts over the church.  After locking Father Luke, the pastor, inside a coal bin in the church, he threatened that anyone who went into the church would be shot.
The next day Li returned to the church, much to Father Luke’s horror.  As he sat there imprisoned, he wanted to yell at her to leave for her safety, but he was afraid of summoning any attention.  After Li’s hour of prayer, the little girl picked up one of the consecrated hosts with her tongue and departed.  The next day the same thing happened.  Li prayed for an hour, while Father Luke watched, and then consumed a host off the floor.  There were thirty-two hosts in the ciborium, and so Li did this for a month.  On the last day, with only one host on the floor, a soldier walked into the church.  Finding the little girl praying, he aimed his gun and shot.  Father Luke screamed in agony as he watched Li crawl to the last host, eat it off the floor, and die.  The soldier, seeing the holiness of the action, released the priest, who proclaimed the story to the world.  When Archbishop Fulton Sheen was asked before his death who his greatest influence was, he responded, “a little Chinese girl.”

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Abbey of Saint Mary Theotokos, Inc. | Feeding the Hungry Children Campaign
Thanks to our fans, the Abbey of Saint Mary Theotokos, Inc. | Feeding the Hungry Children Campaign is one of the first winners of a 2019 Top-Rated Award from GreatNonprofits! Read inspiring stories about us and add your own!

Abbey of Saint Mary Theotokos, Inc.

Abbey of Saint Mary Theotokos, Inc.

Awarded 2019 Top-Rated Non-Profit

We are one of the first winners of a 2019 Top-Rated Award from GreatNonprofits. ​On May 21, 2019, the Abbey of Saint Mary Theotokos, Inc. has earned a spot on the 2019 Top-Rated List.  GreatNonprofits​ is a registered non-profit organization based in the United States that describes itself as “the leading developer of tools that allow people to find, review, and share information about great non-profits.”​​​
The mission statement of the Abbey of Saint Mary Theotokos, Inc. is of funding the Feeding the Hungry Children Campaign and to meet the needs of orphan children that we serve so that they may grow, learn, and have the opportunities of life that they deserve.​​
Blessings and thank you, Abbot Father Michael Cuozzo, OFE, Divine Mercy Children Orphanage, Board of Directors of the Abbey of Saint Mary Theotokos, Inc., and Board of Directors of the Order of Franciscans Ecumenical, Inc. 

Volunteers Are Needed

Volunteers Are Needed
Someone who had 3 hours to volunteer could: pray for our orphan children and mission, help spread the word about the mission of the Abbey of Saint Mary Theotokos, Inc. Feeding the Hungry Children Campaign; invite people to make a tribute gift to honor of someone; to make a bequest gift; to start a personal fundraiser; to sponsor a child or two at our orphanage; to partner with us; to become a benefactor; to make a bequest gift; send out emails; and post social media.
Mission statement of the Abbey of Saint Mary Theotokos, Inc.: Is of funding the Feeding the Hungry Children Campaign and to meet the needs of orphan children that we serve so that they may grow, learn, and have the opportunities of life that they deserve.
Blessings and thank you, Abbot Father Michael Cuozzo, OFE, Divine Mercy Children Orphanage, Board of Directors of the Abbey of Saint Mary Theotokos, Inc., and Board of Directors of the Order of Franciscans Ecumenical, Inc. 

Spiritual Development

Resolution and Perspective In Spiritual Development

By Reverend Friar Anthony A.M. Pearson, OFE

The advice of a Saint is proven wisdom we dare not ignore. Perhaps, another way to say it, we ignore it at great peril to our spiritual health and progress. The Saints have struggled in the front-line experience of life having proven what real spiritual development requires.
St. Charles Borromeo said, “If we wish to make any progress in the service of God, we must begin every day of our life with new eagerness. We must keep ourselves in the presence of God as much as possible and have no other view or end in all our actions but the divine honor.” This sage advice speaks to our development of resolution and perspective. Both are necessary paradigms for spiritual growth and development. Proverbs 23: 7 frames the principle, “As a man thinks, so is he.” Attitude, resolution, perspective all are foundational to spiritual success and development. Living for God’s honor alone, choosing His presence over our comfort and security, and living in daily renewal of faith and effort.
I am reminded of St. Paul’s example and thought. He says, Finally, brethren,whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. (Philippians 4:8). To this we add Paul’s most noble declaration, Philippians 1: 21, For me to live is Christ….” What strength, focus, and determination!
Thus, from Scripture and the exhortation of the Saint we receive solid direction toward achieving our spiritual goals. God grant us the wisdom to address this daily.

Denied Ourselves

Denied Ourselves
“We had not realised how much we denied ourselves. Now we have the first Anglican women bishops, we are asking
ourselves why we were so stupid for so long?” (Archbishop Desmond Tutu)
Photograph: Episcopa (Bishop) Theodora, mother of Pope Paschal 1, Bishop of Rome from 817-​824

Over Coming Silence

Make Your Voice Heard
By Abbot Father Michael Cuozzo+, OFE
“The feminine sex is ennobled by virtue of the Savior’s being born of a human mother; a woman was the gateway through which God found entrance to humankind.” (Edith Stein (Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross) “Vocations of Man and Woman” Essays on Woman (70)
The Roman Catholic Church in its struggle to be faithful to its call for reverence and dignity for all persons must respond by providing the possibility of women as persons being included in all ministries of our Church.
Sister Theresa Kane remind us: “As women, we have heard the powerful messages of our Church professing dignity and reverence for all persons. As women, we have pondered upon these words. Our contemplation leads us to state that the Church in its struggle to be faithful to its call for reverence and dignity for all persons must respond by providing the possibility of women as persons being included in all ministries of our Church.”
Over Coming Silence Website:
Where are the female leaders at the global headquarters of the Catholic Church? (video):

The Spiritual Aspect of Tithing

The Spiritual Aspect of Tithing
(Exarchate Bulletin)​ 
 “Honor the Lord with your substance and with the first fruits of all your produce” (Proverbs 3:9).
In ancient Israel, the Church of the Old Testament, the Law of Moses instituted the tithe, also called the offering of the first-fruits. Tithe is merely the Old-English word for tenth. Israel’s tithe was an assessment of one-tenth of all produce. Usually this portion was rendered from the first harvest of the crop, hence the tithe of first fruits. The proceeds were devoted to the maintenance of the temple, support of the priesthood and the sustenance of the poor (Num. 18:24, Deut. 12:11, and 26:12).
These activities are still necessary parts of Church life. Parishes need suitable places for worship, education and fellowship. We are responsible for our church building maintenance, and the Lord continuously reminds us of our obligation to the needy. Therefore, the practice of good stewardship, represented by the tithe, retains its importance.
The motive behind the Old Testament tithe, however, was not purely pragmatic. For the ancient Hebrews, tithing was never merely an efficient way to raise money. Rather, they understood that their relationship with God required them to dedicate a substantial portion of the fruit of their labor to His purposes.
As Orthodox Christians, our basic understanding, derived from the Old Testament, is that everything comes from God. All that we have or hope to possess, beginning with life itself, is His gift. We acknowledge this fact in our spiritual life through prayer and fasting and through our struggle to follow His commandments. With regard to our material blessings, we confess that He is their true source by returning a portion to Him, to be used for His purposes in this world. These works include the maintenance of worship, the support of those called to His special service and the aid for the poor. By thus giving a portion of our wealth for His purposes, we sanctify the remainder.


The Lay Faithful

The Lay Faithful
By Abbot Father Michael Cuozzo+, OFE
“The term ‘laity’ is here understood to mean all the faithful except those in Holy Orders and those who belong to a religious state approved by the Church. That is, the faithful, who by Baptism are incorporated into Christ and integrated into the People of God, are made sharers in their particular way in the priestly, prophetic, and kingly office of Christ, and have their own part to play in the mission of the whole Christian people in the Church and in the World.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church Number 897)
The vocation of lay people: “By reason of their special vocation it belongs to the laity to seek the kingdom of God by engaging in temporal affairs and directing them according to God’s will. . . . It pertains to them in a special way so to illuminate and order all temporal things with which they are closely associated that these may always be effected and grow according to Christ and maybe to the glory of the Creator and Redeemer.”(Catechism of the Catholic Church Number 898)
The initiative of lay Christians is necessary especially when the matter involves discovering or inventing the means for permeating social, political, and economic realities with the demands of Christian doctrine and life. This initiative is a normal element of the life of the (Church Catechism of the Catholic Church Number 899): Lay believers are in the front line of Church life; for them the Church is the animating principle of human society. Therefore, they in particular ought to have an ever-clearer consciousness not only of belonging to the Church, but of being the Church, that is to say, the community of the faithful on earth under the leadership of the Pope, the common Head, and of the bishops in communion with him. They are the Church.
Since, like all the faithful, lay Christians are entrusted by God with the apostolate by virtue of their Baptism and Confirmation, they have the right and duty, individually or grouped in associations, to work so that the divine message of salvation may be known and accepted by all men throughout the earth. This duty is the more pressing when it is only through them that men can hear the Gospel and know Christ. Their activity in ecclesial communities is so necessary that, for the most part, the apostolate of the pastors cannot be fully effective without it. (Catechism of the Catholic Church Number 900)


Ecclesiastical Affiliation Charter

Ecclesiastical Affiliation Charter
A Ministry of the Order of Franciscans Ecumenical​
We establish Ecclesiastical Affiliation Charters with religious orders, monasteries, abbeys, churches, archdioceses, dioceses, and ministry organizations to help them fulfill their respective missions. Each charter member will operate independently maintaining their current system of disciplines and teachings. They accept the authority of the Order of Franciscans Ecumenical over all matters of Faith and Practices. The charter member may not legally or financially obligate the Order of Franciscans Ecumenical in anyway.  We presently have five Ecclesiastical Affiliation Charters.
 An invitation to religious orders, monasteries, abbeys, churches, communities, archdiocese, dioceses, and ministry organizations to have an ecclesiastical affiliation charter with the Order of Franciscans Ecumenical.  If you are interested in establishing an ecclesiastical affiliation charter, please contact Abbot Father Michael+, OFE.                                                                             

. . . “in the name of the whole Church.”

By Abbot Father Michael Cuozzo+, OFE
“Everything that the priesthood of the Old Covenant prefigured finds its fulfillment in Christ Jesus, the “one mediator between God and men.” The Christian tradition considers Melchizedek, “priest of God Most High,” as a prefiguration of the priesthood of Christ, the unique “high priest after the order of Melchizedek”; “holy, blameless, unstained,” “by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are sanctified,” that is, by the unique sacrifice of the cross.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church 1544)
 “The ministerial priesthood has the task not only of representing Christ – Head of the Church – before the assembly of the faithful, but also of acting in the name of the whole Church when presenting to God the prayer of the Church, and above all when offering the Eucharistic sacrifice.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church Number 1552)
“The divinely instituted ecclesiastical ministry is exercised in different degrees by those who even from ancient times have been called bishops, priests, and deacons. Catholic doctrine, expressed in the liturgy, the Magisterium, and the constant practice of the Church, recognizes that there are two degrees of ministerial participation in the priesthood of Christ: the episcopacy and the presbyterate.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church Number 1554)
“It is in the Eucharistic cult or in the Eucharistic assembly of the faithful (synaxis) that they exercise in a supreme degree their sacred office; there, acting in the person of Christ and proclaiming his mystery, they unite the votive offerings of the faithful to the sacrifice of Christ their head, and in the sacrifice of the Mass they make present again and apply, until the coming of the Lord, the unique sacrifice of the New Testament, that namely of Christ offering himself once for all a spotless victim to the Father.” From this unique sacrifice their whole priestly ministry draws its strength.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church Number 1566)

What Are Bishops Responsible For?

Bishops have three main responsibilities:
To Teach.  A bishop is the principal teacher in his diocese and has a responsibility to preach the Word of God to his people. He must ensure that those delegated to teach in his name, namely priests, teachers, catechists and others, teach the truth.
To Govern. This refers to meeting the needs of the local community (material, social, personal and spiritual) as well as ensuring that church laws are observed. He is ultimately responsible for training and supplying priests for parishes, for the finances of the diocese and for all church property. A bishop has the power to make church laws, be a judge in church matters and to enforce observance of these laws. These laws generally relate to worship, preaching, administration of the sacraments, safeguarding the faith and morals of the faithful and religious instruction.
To Sanctify.  A bishop is responsible for ensuring that the sacraments are administered and has the special authority to ordain priests and to confirm. It is usually the case, then, for a bishop to ordain the priests who are to serve in his diocese and to travel around the diocese and administer the Sacrament of Confirmation. He must also ensure that mass is celebrated in the diocese every Sunday and on major feast days.

Ministry, Mission, and Service of Married Priests

Canonical Basis for Married Roman Catholic Priests to Function in Danger of Death Situations:

The information posted will serve several purposes:

1) a reminder to married Roman Catholic priests that there are some canonically supported ministries in which they may participate;
2) provide information to laity who may be otherwise uninformed;
3) provide assurance to all that these functions are canonically supported.
As members of the Order of Franciscans Ecumenical, we recognize and respect the authority of local bishops and the entire Roman Catholic hierarchy, including, and especially, the pope.
The decisions of OFE members to enter into marriages did not, and do not, eliminate the desire to serve the people of God, and it is disappointing to be unable to do what we feel we have been called to do.
Under discussion here is the valid sacramental function of married priests in certain situations that are allowed under canon law.  Whereas there are canons that support performance of some priestly functions merely upon request by lay Christians, the focus here is on sacramental functions at times when there is danger of death.
It is important that canon law be cited accurately and within context, and that interpretation and commentary be done by Roman Catholic scholars, theologians, and canon lawyers.  Such will be the case here.
To provide the basis for discussion of valid priestly functions when there is danger of death, pertinent canons and commentary are presented here as links to information that has been posted on the OFE website. All of it is comprised of canons and/or commentary by canon lawyers.  It may be helpful to review that information before continuing with this article. Those links will remain on the website for use as a reference.  They are:
New Commentary on the Code of Canon Law Click Here

The Pastoral Companion: A Canon Law Handbook for Catholic Ministry Click Here

Periculum Mortis, Danger of Death in Church Law Click Here

Canonical Reflection on Pastoral Emergency and the Use of Married Priests in the Catholic Church Click Here
A Question of Rights Click Here


Centuries of Meditations

Centuries of Meditations

By Reverend Friar Leonard Edward Schmidt, OFE
My purpose is to share with the reader the spiritual insights I received from reading “Centuries of Meditations” and to share what I have experienced on the path to felicity (happiness) with Thomas Traherne. The following has been gleaned from Centuries 2: 97-100 and Centuries 3: section 1.
When in the Kingdom of God, there is no possibility for man to sin in the presence of God, because no person can sin that sees the beauty of God in front of him and no person can sin against his own happiness. Right now we see only “His face in a glass” and therefore we are only living in a mirror like reality. Our goal at this point is to live and using our imagination, with this glory in our mind, be intent in our desires to reach our destiny and see His glory with our own eyes. We have the choice to sin or to be holy – but if we ponder our destiny and remember that we can be heirs – who would choose to sin? We are challenged to imagine as young children are able to imagine that in holding a doll, they are mothers. We adults should work in our lives, to imagine our life in Heaven which then lifts us to live a sublime and honorable life of holiness on earth. (Century 2: section 97)
Living with Heaven in mind “makes him sensible of the reality of Happiness: it feeds him with contentment and fills him with gratitude, it delivers him from the love of money which is the root of all evil, it causes him to reign over the perverse customs and opinions that are in the world.” (section 98)
Different philosophers claim that felicity can be found in honor, pleasure, riches, as well as the contempt of riches, honor and pleasure, in wisdom, in firm stability of mind, in contemplation or in action, in rest or in suffering or in victory and triumph. (section 99)
Today’s philosophers, like Albert Camus or Jean-Paul Sartre, find felicity in the realization that life is absurd. The action of the Greek God Sisyphus who is condemned by Zeus for a misdemeanor, is to roll a round boulder up a mountain and upon reaching the top he seems to fail and allows the rock to roll down. So, he has to go down and start all over again!
There is no stopping his action and he keeps repeating this action infinitely over and over and over again. That is his punishment for some misdemeanor. Life is sort of meaningless and therefore happiness is unattainable.



Save my Church and restore married priesthood / optional celibacy back into the Roman Catholic Church

By Abbot Father Michael Cuozzo+, OFE
The Church is suffering within its own ranks. On the grassroots level, we meet priests who live in grief and sometimes in poverty. We welcome Pope Francis acknowledging in Amoris Laetitia that “we could draw from the experience of the broad oriental tradition of a married clergy.”
The mission of the Order of Franciscans Ecumenical, Inc. (OFE) is to minister to celibate married Roman Catholic (and Catholic) priests by offering them a welcoming home, support, acceptance, affirmation of their marriages, and validation of their lives and ministries. It also supports efforts to restore married priesthood to the Roman Catholic Church. Canon Laws 212 §2 and §3 tell us that we have the duty to express our views about the Church’s “matters which pertain to the good of the Church and to make their opinion known to the rest of the Christian faithful.” Men who have left the priesthood to marry are made to feel that they failed merely because they wanted the fulfillment of wives and families of their own. Sadly, they have become disheartened by the Church’s abandonment.
All of us have seen how many good priests have been dismissed because they chose to love a woman and have a family. Most of them have to find other work to support their families. Those who could not find work often have been pushed into poverty and suffered emotionally because of the treatment they have received from the Church.
Countless people in the pews have let it be known that they want a priest – married or celibate, it matters little – who will be compassionate about their life issues. Many would welcome a move of the Church to allow married priests back into active priesthood. If the Church is willing to welcome married Episcopal priests into our Church, surely you should be open to accepting former and now married Roman Catholic priests.

Petition Link Click Here

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