Sunday, December 23, 2012

Cardinal Fratelli's Christmas Sermon

“Brothers and sisters in Christ, The prophet Isaiah, of old, once said, thousands of years before the birth of Lord Christ:
How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, and that preacheth peace: of him that sheweth forth good, that preacheth salvation, that saith to Sion: Thy God shall reign! (1)
On this night, I say to you as we have heard in the Scriptures:
“For a CHILD IS BORN to us, and a son is given to us, and the government is upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called, Wonderful, Counsellor, God the Mighty, the Father of the world to come, the Prince of Peace (2).”
What are we to make of all this? Surely our minds and hearts are dizzied by the news: Our Savior has come! He is given to us. Given! And he shall reign forever! When we see the sadness and brokenness of the world, it becomes obvious that mankind longs for a Savior. We long to be rescued and delivered from evil, the wickedness of others and most importantly, our own wickedness. Don’t deny it, dear children, for soon as we think ourselves perfect, we have fallen.
But do not despair in the pit of sorrow, do not yield to your sin and say “It is hopeless” -good news has been announced to us! We have a Savior and moreso, not a Savior who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who was made like us in all things- but sin. This is wonderful! Do we realize that death and sin have been answered, have been challenged by the cry of a tender babe in Bethlehem?
His cries echo our cries and He will deliver us! I say to you: Open your hearts for Thy God, the Prince of Peace, shall reign!”

Sunday, December 16, 2012

A Cardinal Fratelli Christmas ~

Please consider buying Cardinal Fratelli books for someone special this Christmas. Revolving around the mishaps of a blundering clergyman, they feature a light-hearted look at Christian faith, family and life. They are available on, Nook and Kindle!

^ This is the first volume, it introduces us to the lovable character of Cardinal Fratelli and shows us the little mishaps that occur every day as he lives out his priestly vocation. See how profoundly, a relationship with the Lord effects his life in meaningful- and comical ways!

^ The second volume is all about Cardinal Fratelli’s plans for Christmas. Here, you get to meet his entire family and see their funny quirks. A strong message about the real reason for Christmas is also written into these pages. It is wonderful, endearing and hilarious!


Saturday, December 8, 2012

The Cardinal Fratelli Picture Book

I encourage everyone here to click on this link so that they will be treated to a wonderful experience. This is a project I am working on and will be contributing more to: The Cardinal Fratelli Picture Book.

It features illustrations, done by Rachel M. Gohlman and Denita L. Arnold, of various scenes from the good cardinal's life with beautiful descriptions for each picture. When it is fully completed, it will be posted on this blog. Please click on Cardinal Fratelli's facebook page below to see the work-in-progress and enjoy it!

~ The Cardinal Fratelli Picture Book ~

Monday, December 3, 2012

Tea with Cardinal Fratellli, # 10

From Lucio Fontani,

 “Eminenza, I have been thinking I might want to become a priest someday. What should I do?”

Dear, Lucio Fontani,

 This is wonderful news!! There is no moment more beautiful than when a young man decides to dedicate his life to God!
However, before deciding you might become a priest, ponder whether you enjoy being anonymous, overworked, lonely, misunderstood, ordered around, pushed aside, falsely flattered, and disregarded… and did I mention being overworked? If you find all of these things enjoyable, priesthood may be the correct vocation for you.
And my son, while you do think of these things and try to retain goodly composure and sanity, you will be in my prayers.
 Yours In Christ,
Angelo Cardinal Fratelli

Tea with Cardinal Fratelli, # 9

From: Matthew

 “Umm…Mr. Cardinal, I just graduated high school and am looking for a job. Do you have any suggestions?”

 Dear Matthew,

Yes, show up at the cathedral on Saturday morning and I’ll pay you to whitewash it.
 In Christ,
Angelo Cardinal Fratelli.

Tea with Cardinal Fratelli, # 8

From: Jacqueline,

“All of my friends are married or going to school or doing other things and I am very bored. How should I spend my time now that I am left with so much of it? Help me, Your Eminence, I’m going insane!”

Dear Jacqueline,

Do not despair and do not go insane for neither of these experiences are very pleasant.  Having alot of time on your hands is a gift from God, a time to grow spiritually and mentally, and to meet some goals, such as finally dusting those dirty bookshelves in your office, something which I myself have been putting off for a long time. In addition to growing close to God in prayer, there are plenty, long prayers you can learn- or make them up as you go along like I do, you could pick up a hobby or two. Gardening is very rewarding.
In Christ,
Angelo Cardinal Fratelli

Tea with Cardinal Fratelli, # 7

From:  Adam

 I have a problem getting attention from women and they avoid me alot. I’ve noticed the way in which some women look at you and like to be around you. Can you tell me how to attract them?

Dear, Adam

First, I wish you would tell me how to scare them away!
 In Christ,
Angelo Cardinal Fratelli

Tea with Cardinal Fratelli, # 6

From: Jaques
“Help me Your Eminence… I think I may be addicted to milk!”

Dear Jaques,
If you find yourself reaching from the milk-jug before noon and having to warm up a glass before you fall asleep every night, there may be a problem. Yes, you may desire it with your pasta and think its creamy sweetness with a plate of cookies will solve your problems- but any addiction can be harmful. I know from my childhood that milk can make you fat and goofy. Yes, I am embarrassed to admit I was a rather pudgy youth because of my indulgence in milk… Anyway this is about you-not me.
 In the case you are truly addicted and feel that dairy is taking over your life, cut yourself off from milk and all milk-products and do penance!
In Christ,
Angelo Cardinal Fratelli

Sunday, December 2, 2012

A Sermon on Modesty

Preparing for Mass is a wonderful thing, full of anticipation. I look forward to walking beneath dawn’s pinkish light, feeling the chill morning air and hearing bells announce the beginning of yet another day. However, some things I do not look forward to. There comes a time when the teacher must rebuke, when the shepherd must goad his sheep…better now than too late it seems.
When I arrive, rapt in silent reverence to pray the holy liturgy, I notice some others do not share the same view. Some talk loudly on the steps, waiting till the last minute to come worship, others wander the transept as if having nothing else to do, and yet others arrive at holy Mass dressed more fitly for the taverns!
Holy as I strive to be, I am still a man and not immune to carnal distraction. I will without fail notice when a woman approaches with her shoulders and neck exposed. At times, I feel glad that I face away during the most-holy consecration, that I cannot see bands of pale flesh when my mind should be on hallowed things! Shame on you who consider not clothing your daughters in modesty! And shame too, on you young men who present yourselves with wrinkled cuffs, messed hair, smelling of cigar smoke! It is not my duty to lay your dress out for you but if it were, I would teach a lesson in appropriate reverence!
Elder ladies, I look upon you with dignity and respect. Your hair, greyed with wisdom, is a token for us all. But, some of you too have acted shamefully, gathering before the sanctuary after Mass to chatter and improvise daily plans. Have you no parlor or den to gather in? The sacred place isn’t for gathering but for adoration. You rich, you sneer at the poor who behave crudely then proceed to discuss hunting and cards in front of the altar rail! Go elsewhere with it all!
Oh you florists and craftsmen, I admire your works but please do not sell them here! You eloquent speakers and idealists are dear to my heart but find a more suitable place to reveal your dreams. You gentlemen, who wear long coats, feathered hats and medals, can you cross the threshold before donning this finery?
Thus it is written: “You shall worship God with reverence and godly fear for he is a consuming fire.” Even Moses, the greatest forefather, needed to remove his shoes when approaching hallowed ground.
When you gather, be ever mindful that this place is unearthly, be mindful of the lamp of God’s presence, keep prayerful; stay silent. Sing with the harp of your voices at the entering antiphon, speak solely pure words here and only embrace your neighbor at the sign of peace.
 “We will go into his tabernacle: We will adore in the place where his feet stood.” (Psalm 132:7) Amen.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Cardinal and the Constable, ch 14

Chapter 14.
The Closure.
            Francine was absolutely horrified to discover the killer had been courting her. She stomped out of the room, indignantly crying:
            “And I let him kiss me on the cheek!”
            Ernesto sat by Fratelli’s bed as he laid there, a warm cloth on his head, wrapped up in thick covers. Early morning light seeped through the windows, casting floors and walls dusty yellow. Neither had slept very well. Fratelli shifted, stared at his brother then coughed. Dina came in and replaced the cloth with a warmer, fresher one.
            “See, Your Eminence, this is precisely what happens when you go out in the rain,” she admonished, “Now you have a cold.”
            Fratelli groaned as she stuck a thermometer in his mouth.
            “Stop being babyish,” she told him.
            After examining the thermometer, she frowned, shook her head and told him to stay in bed. Of course, he protested:
            “But what about my appointments to hear confessions?”
            “There are two other priests who can do it.”
            Fratelli grumbled but became silent when she fiercely glared back. Ernesto stood and took his hand.
            “Get well, my brother,” he said gently, “And thank you by the way… for possibly saving our lives.”
            “It was nothing- really,” Fratelli’s voice cracked.
            Ernesto smiled and departed, treading softly as not to cause any disturbance.
            Fratelli slept till late noon. He woke up in a dark, candle-lit room and reluctantly ate the cold porridge at his table. This was likely all he would be allowed to eat until he got better. He finished it, frowned from the bitter, starchy taste then walked towards the window and looked outside. Green gardens and trees swayed in lazy summer wind. The white roses peeked up at him. He felt sun shine through the glass, caressing his face. How he longed to be out there…
            Then, he paced across the room, feeling quite bored with himself, his empty musings. He sat in his chair, ceased looking out the window and stared at the patterned ceiling tiles. He began counting them. 2, 4, 6, 8…What was he doing?
            His legs feeling strong, Fratelli decided to quietly sneak downstairs and into the chapel. He owed God a thanksgiving, for the killer’s capture and Ernesto’s safety- and his own welfare. Kneeling down in cool darkness pierced by three solemn candles and the twinkling, red sanctuary lamp, Fratelli mumbled:
            “My hope is in you, O Lord and you will never fail me. You protected me, even when danger lurked in my house. Although I am upset my painting will never be finished, that is least important…”
            He at once began coughing. Raptly, he covered his mouth with a linen handkerchief- but it was too late. Dina overheard, entered the chapel and scolded him:
            “Your Eminence, get back upstairs! I told you to stay in bed.”
            “I’m going…I’m going,” he said hoarsely.
            “You’ll never get well if you keep wandering around the house!”
            Grudgingly, Fratelli retreated upstairs and lay down. He grew rather bored, unable to sleep and asked for his bible. Dina brought it from the library and gladly, he opened to a favorite place, reading in peaceful contemplation.
            The door creaked open.
            “Come in,” Fratelli sighed, laying the bible at his side.
            Jack emerged, walking softly and sat on the chair next to him. His face seemed sullen. Fratelli wordlessly peered up at him then coughed.
            “I hope you feel better soon, Angelo…actually I came up here to apologize for the way I’ve been acting lately. Even if we don’t see eye to eye on religious matters- it’s no way to treat an old friend.”
            Fratelli weakly smiled then replied, “I’m sorry too. Sorry I called you “apostate” and said you worshiped a book… I realize that we both do follow the same Savior.”
            “I know,” Jack said, “I shouldn’t have said what I said either. Stubborn and silly me, I could have kissed your ring- at least to show pride for who you’ve become. I’m afraid I may have started the whole fiasco.”
            “It’s just a piece of jewelry; I shouldn’t have behaved as if it were so important.”
            They looked at each other, both now smiling. Fratelli felt residual humiliation but stuffed it deep inside. This friendship mattered more than his bruised pride. A general relief and joy spread over them. Jack patted Fratelli’s arm fondly, stood and concluded, “I hope you’ll be strutting around in those vestments in no time, my friend.”
            Fratelli laughed then watched him go. Then he rolled over, burying his face beneath the warm covers, trying to get some sleep.

                                    ~ ~ ~
            On a blustery, Wednesday morning, Fratelli had recovered enough to celebrate Mass. Happily he walked across the altar, wearing emerald-colored vestments, and stood at the center where he could see everyone. Jack was visible, not in the front but neither far towards the back. Michele and Ernesto sat closeby, eagerly watching as Gianni came forth and took the Book of Gospels from Fratelli’s hands. He set it on a left table and stood meekly, hands folded together as if in prayer. Not taking eyes off the congregation, Fratelli donned his plain, white miter. He hoped it was not crooked or too loose.
            “Upon this day, we read in the Scriptures: “Surely I have restrained and composed my soul, like a weaned child with its mother: my soul within me is as a weaned child. (1)” What does this mean for us? Are we to become like children?
Aren’t we already so much like children? How often do we cry out for help, begging for our needs to be met, just like little children? How we tell him our troubles and fears! Whenever we do, Our Father in Heaven surely hears us. He is ever-watchful, guarding us night and day. The Lord sleeps nor slumbers. Indeed, all who are here have seen a child resting, restrained and composed in its mother’s arms, not caring for anything, perfectly safe and secure.
 Thus, The Lord wishes for us to quiet our souls in his arms. He wants to become the world to us, so that our entire world consists of him. Our thoughts, our comfort and needs- all in him. In this embrace, we meet perfect peace. The soul wants nothing more. It cries out not. It is weaned from the world and one with God.”
How protected and blessed I am, Fratelli swiftly mused. He sat down silently engulfed in comfort. Yes, even throughout the dangerous moments of the past weeks, he was always cared for!

At home, in the parlor, he rested, closing his eyes against the flooding sun. He stirred hearing footsteps and looked upon Ernesto. His brother took the chair across from him, leaned and spoke:
“I want you to know everything is alright. No one else had been hurt and Gino confessed to the whole murder.”
“He did? Well don’t just sit there, tell me about it! What possessed this poor soul to take another man’s life?”
“Gino realized that during their fellowship of four years, Diego wasn’t paying entirely for his work, he was in essence, cheating him, keeping the leftover money for himself. Gino met with Diego on the clock-tower’s second floor, they talked and he demanded the money owed after all this time. Diego wouldn’t budge and… you know how the story ends.”
Fratelli leaned back, reflecting, resting his chin on one hand.
“This is precisely why it is written in Scripture that the love of money is the root of all evil…”
“You’re right.”
Dina came in and brought two glasses of wine. Fratelli thanked her. They relaxed, slowly sipping, enjoying the sunny afternoon. Ernesto opened his mouth, about to speak but then stopped himself. He simply didn’t intend on ruining this moment.
Michele entered the room, unintentionally breaking their silence. Her face beamed radiantly as the sun which shone through the windows.
“Ernesto, Angelo!”
“My dear,” Ernesto said, unseating and embracing her.
“Before I go to speak with Dina, there is something I wish to tell you both.”
The two men looked towards her, attentively listening. Michele flashed her pearly teeth and said, “This morning I felt sick again but didn’t want to say anything till after Mass. Moreso, this time, I know for sure, I am pregnant. I feel it and I know it.”
“Do you?” Ernesto inquired, taking her arm.
“Yes! I am sure!”
She slapped his hand in a loving annoyance. Fratelli slowly smiled, watching the happy couple again embrace, their faces touching and laughing. He wasn’t certain how to respond and still remained, gawking speechless when Michele left. Ernesto sat down, finished his glass of wine and joyfully grinned. Feeling very warm, Fratelli went to remove the red cap from his head but discovered it wasn’t there. Posture stiffened, he looked around and didn’t see it.
“I’ve lost my zucchetto,” he exclaimed, “Ernesto get up, maybe you are sitting on it?”
His brother stood up. No hat.
Fratelli frantically got up, searching around his chair.
“It’s missing!” he cried.
“Calm down, Your Eminence, It’s got to be somewhere…”
 Gianni suddenly strolled past them, arms folded behind him and whistling; his golden-brown hair crowned by a red zucchetto. In one sweeping, haughty gesture, the cardinal snatched this away, put it on his own head then sat back down. He crossed his arms and huffed.

~ The End

The Cardinal and the Constable, ch 12-13

Chapter 12.
            The Upset.

            Fratelli’s heart thumped in his chest. Slowly, he stooped down and examined the shoes. Discovering one side badly damaged, and a piece scraped off, he almost shrieked. Covering his mouth, he stood, tiptoed down the hallway and peered into the parlor where Gino was working. Maybe this was a coincidence? After all, fancy shoes did damage easily. How could he be so sure the missing piece came from that same shoe?
            He shook his head, trying to think clearly. Suddenly, an idea emerged in his mind. Coming back into the parlor, Fratelli sat in a nearby chair, watching as Gino diligently painted. His delicate hand molded shapes and colors. Mary’s swaddled figure, he outlined in deep blue. He hated to interrupt but asked anyway:
            “I sure feel sorry for what happened to your friend Diego, he was your friend right?”            
            Gino stopped, looked over his shoulder and replied, “We worked together every now and then…I really didn’t know him well.”
            Fratelli clasped his hands. He really didn’t know what else to say. He just sat…and observed. However, his anxiety grew very perceptible to Gino who turned and politely stated, “Your Eminence, I know you are very interested in my work- and I’m honored by this, however, I feel your presence is distracting me.”
            “I apologize.”
            Why should he apologize? It was his own house…well, the Church’s house… Fratelli moved past the door then silently peered around the threshold.
            “I know you are still there, Good Eminence…”
            He crept back to where Gino’s shoes were and again looked closely at the damaged one. Feeling shivers, he wondered if a murderer were right here, in his house.
            Dreadfully nervous, Fratelli summoned Dina and met with her in the kitchen. In case things became dangerous, he wanted her away from the house. Seeing his uneasiness, she asked him:
            “Your Eminence, what is the matter now?”
            “I want you to get Ernesto for me…”
            “But it’s noon and it’s raining, and he may be very busy at work.”
            Thinking quickly, Fratelli answered:
            “Then I give you the rest of the day off, go home!”
             She began protesting then hushed, eyed him strangely and seeing he was serious, gathered her things to leave. He waited until she left before walking into the parlor.
            “I’m going to the market,” he announced.
            Gino gazed at him.
            “It’s raining, Your Eminence.”
            “Well I like the rain!” he asserted, proudly crossing his arms.
            Although he didn’t say anything more, Gino’s face displayed a fine smile. The cardinal added:
            “You can stay here and help yourself to the wine, I’ll return shortly.”
            Fratelli donned his shoes, grabbed his draping, red cloak, wrapped it around himself and dashed outside.
            Soon as he stepped onto the street, his robes became wet. Lifting them up around his knees, he sprinted across the piazza. He hoped to find Ernesto soon as he looked rather foolish out there in the rain; a soggy, red figure running down the street.
            He suddenly halted in front of a figure on horseback.
            “Ernesto, is that you?”
            “Yes, Angelo. What are you doing out here? You are soaking wet.”
            Dropping the hem of his cassock, letting it clump forlornly around his feet, he replied, “Yes…I’m aware of that.”
            Ernesto dismounted and escorted Fratelli beneath an alcove. Cold water rushed from the roof, away from them and pooled along a ditch on the street. The cardinal removed his red skullcap and wrung water out of it. Then he futilely put it back on his soaked head.
            “Your Eminence, just look at you!”
            “Ernesto, there’s something I must tell you…I found a pair of alligator shoes- and one’s missing a piece from it. The same color as the one you had shown me.”
            “At my house- at my house! They belong to Gino Siglio!”
            Ernesto’s eyes widened. He paced back to his horse and quickly mounted. Passing Fratelli, he said:
            “Go ahead home Angelo and I’ll follow you…”
            Reluctantly, Fratelli plodded home. He walked over a few rain puddles though doing his best to avoid them. His shoes were drenched, his finery water-logged and heavy. He looked altogether pathetic by the time he reached home. Ernesto waited beneath a tree as he came inside, tracking mud and water all over the carpet. Dina would be very upset at him…
            He removed his shoes and put his red cap atop the hat rack. It slid, weighed down by moisture and fell. Fratelli sighed, shrugging. He promised he’d pick it up later.
            Fratelli went into the parlor and discovered it dark and empty. Gino was nowhere to be seen! Running back, he told Ernesto and the constable came in after him. He looked for the shoes but found them neither.
            “It seems he knew what you were up to, Your Eminence… What did you tell him before you left?”
            “I said I was going to the market.”
            “Oh, Angelo that is so transparent!”
            “I am sorry, so sorry Ernesto. I failed you.”
            “No you didn’t, you helped me. Putting Gino to flight only makes him look all the more guilty. Now let’s find him.”

Chapter 13.
            The Set-up.

            Frantically, Ernesto and Fratelli searched the cardinal’s villa. Fratelli ventured upstairs, downstairs and into the kitchen while Ernesto stayed, searching through Gino’s supplies, which had been left behind. He retrieved a triangular item, caked with dried paint from a nearby handbag. Peeling paint off of it, he revealed a spade-like, flat blade.
            Fratelli heard him calling and dashed downstairs, almost stumbling over the furrowed rug on his way into the parlor.
            “What is it?”
            “Look,” Ernesto said, holding up the blade, “Turns out the knife wasn’t a knife at all- but some piece of painter’s equipment.”
            “Dear Lord!” the cardinal exclaimed, crossing himself, “The real murderer- was in my house- the whole time!”
            “Well, he’s not in your house anymore. We’ve got to find him before he leaves the city.”
            “Say…Ernesto, do you still have that monk’s habit?”
            “Yes I do…I was thinking the exact same thing…”
            Ernesto recovered the monk’s habit and threw the garment over his head. After Fratelli tied the cord belt, Ernesto said to him:
            “You wait here”
            “But I want to help you…”
            “Your Eminence, this is very dangerous.”
            “I know…”
            “So you’re staying here?”
            “Yes, yes.”

            ~ ~ ~
            The rain lessened, becoming a fine, hovering fog. Gino Siglio tied his long cloak around himself on his way to the local stables, where he rented a horse. Quickly walking onto the street, he mounted his horse and trotted towards the city gates. If he were to gallop, it would look suspicious, so he paced his mount leisurely. Chill air brushed against him. Though day had been hot, night grew rather cold and he hugged his cloak closer.
 As Gino neared the city’s huge, stone gates, a shadow on horseback met him. Panicked, he reached for the gun at his belt but only seeing a white-clad monk, he didn’t draw the weapon.
            “Good evening, brother,” he said casually.
            “God bless you,” the monk replied, “Can I ask you for directions? You see, I’m trying to get to the little church on the other side of Lucca but Lord have mercy, I seemed to have lost my way…”
            At once, another rider appeared. It was Timotheo, sitting strait, sword drawn but held low.
            “Good evening sir,” he said approaching, “May we stop you a moment?”
            Gino laughed and suddenly, brandished his gun, holding it out. Instantly, Ernesto drew his gun, pointing at Gino. The three stood, frozen.
            “Why did you kill Diego Pollini?” Timotheo asked.
            Gino wryly frowned and growled his answer: “You would have killed him too if he cheated you out of as much money as he cheated me!”
            “I don’t think so…”
            “It doesn’t matter, you’re going next!”

Meanwhile Cardinal Fratelli trekked through the street on horseback. He leaned over, peering about and searched the alleyways and buildings for sign of Ernesto. His horse began acting unruly, snorting and stomping. Nervously, he gripped the reigns tighter. He had left in haste and didn’t care which horse the stable loaned him. It figured he would choose a badly-behaved one. Despite his promise to stay safely at home, he felt Ernesto was in danger and needed to reach him soon. However, this horse didn’t seem intent on getting anywhere. It halted, balked then circled.
“You lazy beast!” Fratelli hissed, kicking the horse’s side, “Go!”
 And they were off! Fratelli clutched the reigns for dear-life as the horse swiftly sprinted, its hooves clopping over pavement, at dizzying speed. Wind buffeted Fratelli’s face and he squinted, barely able to see.
“Whoa, stop- stop!” the terrified cardinal yelled.

Ernesto trembled, touching his finger to the gun’s trigger, wondering if Gino would fire at Timotheo at any time. Stinging sweat beaded on his brow but he ignored it, eyes staring intently forward. Then they all heard a frantic shouting and Gino whirled, watching a screaming, bright scarlet figure blur past. It gave Timotheo just enough time. He lunged, wrestled the gun from Gino’s hand and knocked him onto the ground. Ernesto dismounted then quickly shackled him. His fear loosened and succumbed to a faint sense of relief- even joy. The killer was caught at last. Now…to catch that cardinal.

They found Fratelli on a far roadside, heaving and leaning against the horse’s lathery neck. Both were exhausted and pitiful-looking.
“Come on Your Eminence, let’s go home,” Ernesto said, taking the reins.
Now, the horse obediently followed, head held low, his finicky spirit worn out.
“Are you alright?” Fratelli tiredly mumbled.
“Yes, completely unscathed- and Timotheo too. We’ve caught him.”
“Oh, praise God!”