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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.
 

Who is Holy Theotokos Saint Mary?

Holy Theotokos (“God-bearer”) Saint Mary
 
“Saint Mary the Virgin is the Mother of God; Theotokos. (Luke 1:43). She was the seed of David (Romans 3:1); the bride-to-be of Joseph (Matthew 1:18-25); kinswoman of Elizabeth the mother of John the Baptist (Luke 1:36); attended to ceremonial purification (Luke 2:22-38); fled into Egypt with Joseph and Jesus (Matthew 2:13-15); lived in Nazareth (Matthew 2:19-23); took twelve-year old Jesus to the temple in Jerusalem (Luke 2:41-50); at the wedding in Cana of Galilee (John 2:1-11); concerned for Jesus’ safety (Matthew 12:46, Mark 3:21-31, Luke 8:19-21); at the cross where she was entrusted by Our Lord Jesus Christ to care of John the Evangelist (John 19:25-27); in the Upper Room with the disciples where the Holy Spirit came down upon them (Acts 1:14).” (Cf. Saint Mary & Saint Moses Abbey, Coptic Orthodox Diocese of the Southern United States, Sandia, Texas, USA)


Advocate for Married Roman Catholic Priesthood

Theotokos Association of Catholic Priests
 
The Theotokos Association of Catholic Priests is an organization that welcomes ordained and non-ordained women and men and organizations who advocate for married Roman Catholic priesthood, and who support the goals, mission, charism (gift), and apostolic works of the Order of Franciscans Ecumenical, Inc., and the Abbey of Saint Mary Theotokos, Inc., with prayer, time, talent, wisdom, encouragement, and treasure.
 
All priests and friends (persons and/or organizations) are invited to become members of the Theotokos Association of Catholic Priests. 
 
Blessings,
 
Abbot Father Michael, OFE
Very Reverend Friar Michael Cuozzo, OFE, DD, STD, PhD
Website Link Click Here


Confraternity of Prayer

Sanctification of Families Union of Saint Francis of Assisi
 
“In leading family life and in educating children married clergy are to show an outstanding example to other Christian faithful.” (Cf. 1990 Code of Canons of Oriental Churches, Canon, n. 375)
 
The Sanctification of Families Union of Saint Francis of Assisi is an international confraternity of prayer and ministry of the Order of Franciscans Ecumenical, Inc., Order of Franciscans Ecumenical Secular, Order of Franciscans Culdee, Catholic Order of Franciscans Ecumenical, and Abbey of Saint Mary Theotokos, Inc.  It is comprised of priests, religious and laity who commit to prayer for the sanctification of families and of married Roman Catholic priests are welcome as members.
 
“…many elements of sanctification and of truth” are found outside the visible confines of the Catholic Church: “The written Word of God; the life of grace; faith, hope, and charity, with the other interior gifts of the Holy Spirit, as well as visible elements.” Christ’s Spirit uses these Churches and ecclesial communities as means of salvation, whose power derives from the fullness of grace and truth that Christ has entrusted to the Catholic Church. All these blessings come from Christ and lead to him, and are in themselves calls to “Catholic unity.” (Cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 819)
 
Blessings,
 
Abbot Father Michael, OFE
Very Reverend Friar Michael Cuozzo, OFE, DD, STD, PhD
Website Link Click Here                                     


Sacrifice in Suffering

Sacrifice in Suffering
By Most Reverend Anthony A.M. Pearson, COFE
 
Most believers have, at one time or another, questioned why they are suffering. This is especially true when they are in the midst of a trial, test, or other suffering, or having to watch their loved ones’ suffering.  Is God mad at us, so much so that he afflicts us or those we love?  Are we weak in faith? Is God punishing me for it? The answer is plainly taught in Scripture.  Of course, the heretical “Health & Wealth” gospel preachers pathologically heap guilt on us, stating that if we’re suffering it’s because we don’t have enough faith or that it must be God’s punishment for some sin we’re hiding. They’re wrong!
 
“There is another reason also why the soul has traveled safely in this obscurity; it has suffered: for the way of suffering is safer, and also more profitable, than that of rejoicing and of action. In suffering God gives strength, but in action and in joy the soul does but show its own weakness and imperfections. And in suffering, the soul practices and acquires virtue, and becomes purer, wiser, and more cautious.” (St. John of the Cross, Dark Night of the Soul, 149)
 
Nothing could be further from the truth! In fact, Christians are called to suffer. It is the best seminary education we could ever receive. It’s the closest we will ever walk with Christ Jesus in this life! And it is in the furnace of life and on the anvil of heartbreak that God forges His tempered saints into instruments He can use. I know, because I have, am now, and will continue to be in that furnace that burns away dross, consumes weakness, and hardens brittle self-focus, leaving behind a glimmering weapon of our authentic self – forged in God’s image.
 
Out of sufferings great saints were formed. Out of trials, testing, and sufferings, we become one with the Lord of sufferings who was the “Man of Sorrows, Acquainted with Grief,” who shows us the way of suffering and how we are to handle it.  “Love proves itself by deeds, and how shall I prove mine? … I can prove my love only by scattering flowers, that is to say, by never letting slip a single little sacrifice, a single glance, a single word; by making profit of the very smallest actions, by doing them all for love. I want to suffer and even rejoice for love, for this is my way of scattering flowers.” — (St. Therese of Lisieux, The Story of a Soul, 4-5)
 
We read this exhortation from God through St. Peter, a man well acquainted with both our Lord’s sufferings and his own terrible sufferings. He is writing to the Church Militant, sorely afflicted in the sufferings of Nero.  They were persecuted, prosecuted, tortured, violated, humiliated, taunted, fed to wild animals, and treated as a public spectacle for the gory, blood soaked, cruel “enjoyment and entertainment” of the pagan crowds!
 
Men and women, boys and girls, infants and the elderly, pregnant women and very ill, all were treated as vermin!
 
To this suffering Church the first Bishop of Rome communicated exhortation and encouragement. In 1 Peter 2:21-23 we read, “For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in His steps. He committed no sin; no guile was found on His lips. When He was reviled, He did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten; but He trusted to Him who judges justly.” (RSVCE)

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Meditation

Commentary on Section/Meditation 61
From Thomas Traherne’s book “Centuries of Meditations”
By Reverend Friar Leonard Edward Schmidt, OFE
 
When we contemplate the cross, we may receive the inspiration that brings up the topic of zeal, holiness, or self-denial, etc. If we achieve this insight of a connected value to the cross, we are then happy, full of felicity.
 
Jesus gave an example of living out his zeal in doing the will of his Father through his obedience to substitute the sacrifice of animals (the Covenant of Moses) with the eternal sacrifice on the cross. In other words, creating a second Covenant – a Covenant of Jesus. The Covenant of Jesus was wider-reaching than the sacrifice of animals. For example, the sin offering was offered for individual sin while the sacrifice of Jesus atoned for the sins of the entire world.
 
Jesus also was holy because he was obeying the will of his Father.  He achieved holiness by his act of self-denial. In other words, he denied himself by refusing to escape his suffering.
 
We can apply the same procedure of connective thoughts to the remaining words starting with “patience” and ending with “thanksgiving” in Section/Meditation 61.
 
Taking another three virtues: modesty, perseverance, and thanksgiving, we can see how Jesus lived these out in his life. With modesty, he had to reveal to the disciples his role as the Son of God, but it needed to be done in a way that they would be ready for. They would not have been able to accept all the teachings at one time without the proper preparation as well as the graces they received over time. Jesus persevered with them throughout his time on earth, and taught them the importance of persevering through many challenges. This, of course, leads to success in the outcome of our undertakings which ultimately results in thanksgiving! We can be thankful for the graces which allow for perseverance and up with happiness.
 
Similarly, the rest of Traherne’s words in this paragraph can be connected to the cross felicitously by attaining the joy of understanding.
 
(Cf. United In Spirit: OFE Newsletter, January 2017, Vol. 2, Issue 1​)
 
Notes: Thomas Traherne (ca. 1636-1674) was an Anglican priest, a mystic, an English poet and religious writer. Christian Classics Ethereal Library Intern Andrew Hanson concluded, “God displays his power in the immensity, complexity, and beauty of his    creation. Thomas Traherne, in his Centuries of Meditations, showcases his deep love for God’s creative powers. The poetry in Centuries has a childlike humility in the face of God’s glory. While living at a time where God’s wrath and humanity’s sin were the main topics of theological conversation, Traherne writes poetry that looks at the beauty of God and His goodness. His poetry is not just good Christian poetry, but good poetry that is appreciated by Christian and secular poetry lovers alike.”


“in order to serve”

Transitional Deacon
 
By Abbot Father Michael Cuozzo+, OFE​ 
 
“The divinely instituted ecclesiastical ministry is exercised in different degrees by those who even from ancient times have been called bishops, priests, and deacons.”  (Catechism of the Catholic Church Number 1554)
 
“At a lower level of the hierarchy are to be found deacons, who receive the imposition of hands ‘not unto the priesthood, but unto the ministry.”‘ At an ordination to the diaconate only the bishop lays hands on the candidate, thus signifying the deacon’s special attachment to the bishop in the tasks of his “diakonia.”” (Catechism of the Catholic Church Number 1569)
 
“Deacons share in Christ’s mission and grace in a special way. The sacrament of Holy Orders marks them with an imprint (“character”) which cannot be removed and which configures them to Christ, who made himself the “deacon” or servant of all. Among other tasks, it is the task of deacons to assist the bishop and priests in the celebration of the divine mysteries, above all the Eucharist, in the distribution of Holy Communion, in assisting at and blessing marriages, in the proclamation of the Gospel and preaching, in presiding over funerals, and in dedicating themselves to the various ministries of charity.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church Number 1570)
 
On April 23, 2019, Very Reverend Friar Michael Cuozzo+, OFE celebrated his 33rd anniversary of his diaconate ordination. He  was ordained by Bishop Phillip Francis Straling, DD, Diocese of San Bernardino, San Bernardino, CA, USA.
 
Photo: Saint Deacon Stephen was traditionally venerated as the protomartyr or first martyr of Christianity.


Married Priesthood

Married Priesthood
By Reverend Father Paul Ochieng-Ogada, DMB
(Cf. United In Spirit: OFE Newsletter, October 2017, Vol. 2, Issue 2)
 
Saint Peter was married, Saint Paul celibate, and the early church flourished. Both married and celibate priests were common until 12th century when celibacy became mandatory, both married priesthood are gifts to the church.
 
In 2006, an international study I published with the Society of Jesus, Ak Hern of Kenly Foundation found wide-spread support among Catholic laity for married priests: in Spain 80%, USA 82%, Italy 67%, Poland 60%. The same study found significant support (68-80%) for ordaining women.
 
The Catholic church is the only Christian denomination in the United States that has a shortage of clergy. We already have married priests and women deacons in the Catholic church. Eastern rites of Catholicism permit priests to marry. In the US, there are over 300 married priests. It’s felt that God is calling our original tradition. It’s time the church granted women equality for pastoral service. In fact, many married priests and their wives minister as couples. History fully supports a married priesthood. For the first 1200 years of the church existence, priests, bishops, and 39 Popes were married. Celibacy existed in the first century among hermits and monks, but it was considered an optional alternative lifestyle. In 1993 Pope John Paul II publicly said that celibacy is not essential to the priesthood. Married priests and their wives were the first pastors, the first bishops, first missionaries. They carried the message of Jesus across cultures and protected it. Life was met
by joyful expectations, Jesus said he would return, and the first Christians believed that it would be soon. Led by married priests, they met at each other’s homes to celebrate the Mass. Strangers were invited to share bread and wine, no one was excluded from receiving Communion, they soon became friends, joined the church and brought others to hear the good news of Jesus. Presently, in the US there are over 250 former Lutheran and Episcopal ministers serving as married priests after converting to Catholicism. Presently the Armenian Church has at least four women deacons. Pope Paul VI and John Paul II signed documents recognizing the apostolic succession and validity of Armenian Catholic sacraments. The steadily worsening priest shortage and some of the worst sexual conduct of present priest requires us to look at other options for preserving Eucharistic heritage.
 
The laity have a canonical right and obligation to speak about optional celibacy and women’s roles. Authority is vested in us through our baptism and confirmation; we have the duty to explore different ways to ensure the church remains healthy. Canon 212 tells us we have the right and obligation to make our views known on matters which concern the good of the church. We need to return to the early church custom of having women deacons. We look forward at Holy Apostles Monastery to our full reinstatement when the man-made law of celibacy is rescinded. God is calling us back to original tradition, open your hearts and eyes to God’s voice.


Plight of African Children

Plight of African Kenyan Children & God’s Call to Us

By Reverend Father Paul Ochieng-Ogada, DMB  

Dear Readers, Holy Apostles Monastery is in historic times, and God has been speaking to me about the books of Esther and Jeremiah.  Oftentimes, we cannot see the forest for the trees, meaning that sometimes we are so focused on what is immediately in front of us that we cannot perceive the absolute wonder of what the Spirit of the Lord is saying.
 
You have been raised up for such a time as this; you have a job to do for Jesus, a divine opportunity.  Like Joseph, who was in the spirit because he was on his way to the palace, your own time for “divine favor” has come. Joseph’s purpose was not for Pharaoh; it was for God’s people.  Esther’s assignment was to preserve God’s people, not the king. The kingdoms and nations of this world will be the kingdom of our God.  Things are about to shift – a time of transition.  When you understand who you are, you begin to see and understand the purpose that you serve.  You are put into position in order to carry out a plan.
 
Prayer is key and vital to your plan.  Do not forsake the ministry of prayer; do not take lightly the corporate gathering.  God has commissioned you to bring forth his plan; you are pregnant with purpose.  God has a plan for you to break out and break through.  Don’t be afraid; look into the future with confidence.  Prayer helps us to determine the direction we need to go and to lead us into the ministries that are essential in our roles to serve God through serving those in need, near and far.
 
The drumbeat, poems, songs, drama, and sporting activities have masked the underlying structural challenges innocent Kenyan children face in their daily lives.  Kenya is arguably the richest nation in East Africa, but spoiled by wicked political leadership. This beautiful country is endowed with a vast array of natural resources, such as gold, platinum, beautiful wild animals, lakes, and beautiful blue skies, yet it is a country where children have become an endangered species who, instead of being viewed as the future, are now tottering on the brink of being the disposable.  It is with a tinge of sadness that I realize that Kenya leads in infant mortality rate.  A disturbingly high number of Kenyan children have poor access to health care which, in many cases, has resulted in children succumbing to diseases that are easily prevented or treated in other continents, such as America and Europe.   Kenyan children are more likely to be born with HIV/AIDS related diseases and have for many years succumbed to diseases of poverty, such as kwashiorkor, marasmus, and rickets.  It is a common occurrence for Kenyan children not to even afford a decent meal, unlike their counterparts in other continents.  Holy Apostles Monastery missionaries see the highest number of children with little or no access to a sound educational infrastructure and information technology, both at school and at home.
 
This situation is so dire that, out of our own poverty, the love of Christ Jesus compels us to help them through the help of others, that is, through your help. While it is natural that we want to care for those close around us, it is important that we recognize that Kenyan children do not have even a fraction of the assistance available to children in wealthier nations.  It is my prayer that you will find in your heart the desire to help those who may be far away, but who are in the very greatest need.  It is a true reflection of the ministry that we are called to through Christ Jesus. 
 
Your prayers and contributions are true blessings,
 
Abbot Father Michael+, OFE
Very Reverend Friar Michael Cuozzo+, OFE, DD, STD, PhD
Website Link Click Here


Repair My Church

The motto of the Order of Franciscans Ecumenical is repair my church.
In 1206, Jesus came to Saint Francis of Assisi and speaking through the icon Cross of San Damiano, told him: “Francis, Francis, go and repair my house which, as you can see, is falling into ruins.”
 
Today, we are faced with a Church “falling into ruins.” Like Saint Francis of Assisi, I believe Pope Francis also received the divine call to repair, heal, revitalize, recharge, and renew the universal Church, the pilgrim People of God.
 
The Gospel of Matthew reassures us: “I shall be with you until the end of time”. (Matthew 28:20).


He Is Risen

“Accept the risen Jesus into your life. Even if you have been far away, take a small step towards him. He awaits you with open arms.” (Pope Francis)



Holy Week

“In this Holy Week the Lord Jesus will renew the greatest gift we could possibly imagine: he will give us his life, his body and his blood, his love.” (Pope Francis)


An Invitation To Get Involved

An Invitation To Get Involve With The Order of Franciscans Ecumenical
 
Get Involved: To Feeding Hungry Children Campaign, To Start a Personal Fundraiser; To Help Spread the Word, To Sponsors; To Benefactors; To Volunteers; To Married Roman Catholic Priests; To Roman and Eastern Catholic Bishops; To Celibate Roman Catholic Priests; To Roman Catholic Laity; To Wives of Married Roman Catholic Priests; To Catholic Autocephalous Bishops and Priests;  To Religious Orders and Churches to be Ecumenical Friends with the Order of Franciscans Ecumenical; To Religious Communities and Churches to have an Ecclesiastical Affiliation Charter with Order of Franciscans Ecumenical; To all Priests and Friends (persons and/or organizations) to Become Members of the Theotokos Association of Catholic Priests; and To Join the International Confraternity of the Sanctification of Families Union of Saint Francis of Assisi.
 
May God richly bless you and your involvement!
 
Abbot Father Michael+, OFE
Very Reverend Friar Michael Cuozzo+, OFE, DD, STD, PhD
Website Link Click Here


An Invitation To Religious Orders and Churches

An Invitation to Religious Orders and Churches to be Ecumenical Friends with the Order of Franciscans Ecumenical
 
What does it mean to be “ecumenical friends?”
 
These are some of the things that reflect what that means: To pray regularly for the unity of the Church; to be rooted in a particular Christian tradition; to take an active part in the careful and honest appraisal of whatever needs to be done for the renewal of one’s own church; to be fascinated and curious about that which is different; to be willing to learn; to cultivate an historical consciousness; to be ready to celebrate vitality in the Body of Christ wherever it is found; to be willing to work together; to feel the scandal of our divisions; to be open to God’s will for the Church; to appreciate the important role of provisional regulations and church structures in our evolution from alienation to reconciliation; to have an appreciation for the hierarchy of truths in Christian doctrine; to try to understand others as they understand themselves; to be alert to the presence of God and the action of the Holy Spirit in the lives of other Christians and members of other living faiths; and to have a biblical patience.
 
Blessings,
 
Abbot Father Michael+, OFE
Very Reverend Friar Michael Cuozzo+, OFE, DD, STD, PhD
Website Link Click Here


Welcome Home!

Welcome to the blog of the Order of Franciscans Ecumenical (OFE) and the Abbey of Saint Mary Theotokos (Theotokos in Greek means “God-bearer”). 
 
The Order of Franciscans Ecumenical ​is pleased to provide a “home” for married Roman Catholic priests and to eventually enable them to continue to serve sacramentally within the Roman Catholic Church.
 
Note: Use of the term “ecumenical” is important to this particular Franciscan order. Whereas we are Eastern / Roman Catholic presbyters who support and promote married and celibate Roman Catholic priesthood, we have a thirty-four-year history of involvement and collaboration with a number of other communities as well, including: Russian Orthodox, Greek Orthodox, and other Orthodox jurisdictions; Syro-Chaldean; Celtic; Anglican; and various Eastern Catholic traditions.  
                               

Catholic Apostolic Church / Eastern Rite / International Ordinariate was canonically created in January, 1985 as the Personal Prelature of Pope John Paul II under the guidance of the Russian Emigre Archbishop Josef DeBrulle.At that time, we had to work with total confidentiality.  We went public in 2013. It was later named the Federation of Jesus Abbeys, and, is most recently known as the Order of Franciscans Ecumenical (OFE). Its leadership is provided by Abbot Father Michael Cuozzo, OFE, who is now the Abbot General.

 
Note: A personal prelature is a canonical structure of the Roman Catholic Church which is comprised of a prelate, clergy, and laity who undertake specific pastoral activities.
 
The specific pastoral activity of the OFE, as was originally desired by Pope John Paul II, is to create an avenue for married Roman Catholic priests to return to service in Roman Catholic parishes.
 
May God richly bless you!
 
Abbot Father Michael+, OFE                                                                                                                                                        
Very Reverend Friar Michael Cuozzo+, OFE, DD, STD, PhD
Website Link Click Here


“Gift of Women”

“Until we have truly incorporated the gift of women and the feminine dimension of our Christian faith, we will not be able to fully energise the life of the Church.” (Cf. https://overcomingsilence.com, Vincent Long Van Nguyen, OFMConv, Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Parramatta)




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