Is God calling you to walk in the footsteps
of Saint Francis of Assisi?

Come and see how Secular Franciscans live joyfully In the world & celebrate God’s creation.

The Secular Franciscan Order (SFO) is a branch of the world-wide Franciscan Family. We are single and married. Some of us are diocesan clergy. We work, worship and play in the community where we live.

The SFO was established by St. Francis of Assisi more than 800 years ago. Our purpose is to bring the gospel to life where we live and where we work. We look for practical ways to embrace the gospel in our lives and try to help others to do likewise.

A local group of Secular Franciscans is probably meeting near you. Please use this map to locate your closest fraternity or feel free to contact one of the members of our Regional Executive Council who will be happy to put you in touch with a Fraternity near you.

About our region

All local Secular Franciscan fraternities in the United States are organized into one of 30 regions. The Saint Katharine Drexel Region includes parts of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware. There are currently 27 local fraternities in the region. We are under the patronage of St. Katharine Drexel, who was a Secular Franciscan and whose feast we celebrate on March 3rd.

Updates, News & Announcements

Follow our updates, news & announcements via…
Facebook Twitter RSS Feed

X

or enter your email address and click subscribe to by notified by email:

June 2020 Thoughts for the Day by Father Francis Sariego, OFM Cap

June 2020

 

All-powerful, most holy, Almighty and supreme God,

Holy and just Father, Lord King of heaven and earth

we thank You for Yourself, for through Your holy will

and through Your only Son with the holy Spirit

You have created everything spiritual and corporal

… making us in Your own image and likeness…

We thank You.

 

Excerpts from Later Exhortation to the Brothers and Sisters of Penance.

 

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

1

Brother Francis, their servant and subject, sends esteem and reverence, true peace from heaven and sincere love in the Lord to all Christian religious people: clergy and laity, men and women, and to all who live in the whole world. – When you come to Christ, Christianity demands the personal, intimate bond. We have to be one with him and reflect the person, mind, will, heart and humanity of Christ.

2

Because I am the servant of all, I am obliged to serve all and to administer the fragrant words of my Lord to them.

Therefore, realizing that I could not visit each one of you personally because of sickness and the weakness of my body, I decided to offer you in this letter and message the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who is the Word of the Father, and the words of the Holy Spirit, which are spirit and life. – Faith is not the will to believe; it is the acceptance of truth based on the authority of God’s revelation.

3

The most high Father made known from heaven through His holy angel Gabriel this Word of the Father—so worthy, so holy and glorious—in the womb of the holy and glorious Virgin Mary, from whose womb He received the flesh of our humanity and frailty. – Reconciliation is inseparable from the death of Christ. We never have reconciliation without the passion, death, and resurrection of our Lord.

4

Though He was rich, He wished, together with the most Blessed Virgin, His mother, to choose poverty in the world beyond all else. – Because of sin, we all need a fresh start.

5

And as His Passion was near, He celebrated the Passover with His disciples and, taking bread, gave thanks, blessed and broke it, saying: Take and eat: This is My Body. – Let there be less of me and more of Christ.

6

And taking the cup He said: This is My Blood of the New Covenant which will be poured out for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins. – The more ego there is, the less there is of Christ.

7

Then He prayed to His Father, saying: Father, if it can be done, let this cup pass from me. And His sweat became as drops of blood falling on the ground. Nevertheless, He placed His will in the will of His Father, saying: Father, let Your will be done; not as I will, but as You will. –The more we are Christ, the more he can use us.

8

His Father’s will was such that His blessed and glorious Son, Whom He gave to us and Who was born for us, should offer Himself through His own blood as a sacrifice and oblation on the altar of the cross: not for Himself through Whom all things were made, but for our sins, leaving us an example that we might follow His footprints. –  Christ does not open doors and give us opportunities, until we are flexible in his hands, obedient like a pencil in his hands.

9

And He wishes all of us to be saved through Him and receive Him with our heart pure and our body chaste. But, even though His yoke is easy and His burden light, there are few who wish to receive Him and be saved through Him. – Nothing in all the world is worth a moment of time except to know more of him.

10

Those who do not wish to taste how sweet the Lord is and who love the darkness more than the light, not wishing to fulfill God’s commands, are cursed; it is said of them by the prophet: Cursed are those who stray from your commands. – Christ wants us to be available so that he can display his power through us, his truth through us.

11

But how happy and blessed are those who love God and do as the Lord Himself says in the Gospel: You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself. – The Christian is another Jesus.

12

Let us love God, therefore, and adore Him with a pure heart and a pure mind, because He Who seeks this above all things has said: True adorers adore the Father in Spirit and Truth. For all who adore Him must adore Him in the Spirit of truth. – When Christ becomes the rule of life, then his life becomes ours.

13

And day and night let us direct praises and prayers to Him, saying: Our Father, Who art in heaven . . . for we should pray always and not become weary. We must, of course, confess all our sins to a priest and receive the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ from him. –Conscience can never be covered up; guilt will always come out.

14

Whoever does not eat His flesh and drink His blood cannot enter the kingdom of God. But let him eat and drink worthily because anyone who receives unworthily, not distinguishing, that is, not discerning, the Body of the Lord, eats and drinks judgment on himself. – Conscience bothers us when it is not where it is supposed to be.

15

In addition, let us produce worthy fruits of penance. And let us love our neighbors as ourselves. And if anyone does not want to love them as himself, let him at least not do them any harm, but let him do good. – Every atheist is afraid of the dark. You don’t find atheists in foxholes.

16

Let whoever has received the power of judging others pass judgment with mercy, as they would wish to receive mercy from the Lord. Judgment will be without mercy for those who have not shown mercy. – It is not man who is on the quest for God. It is God who is on the quest for man.

17

Let us, therefore, have charity and humility and give alms because it washes the stains of our sins from our souls. For, although people lose everything they leave behind in this world, they, nevertheless, carry with them the rewards of charity and the alms they have given for which they will receive a reward and a fitting repayment from the Lord. – We need to fall in love with the Lord.

18

We must also fast and abstain from vices and sins and from an excess of food and drink and be Catholics. We must also frequently visit churches and venerate and revere the clergy not so much for themselves, if they are sinners, but because of their office and administration of the most holy Body and Blood of Christ which they sacrifice upon the altar, receive and administer to others. – When we love the Lord, we want to be one with him. That is love’s first effect.

19

And let all of us know for certain that no one can be saved except through the holy words and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ which the clergy pronounce, proclaim and minister. And they alone must minister and not others. – In prayer we shrug off the burdens of the world.

20

Religious, however, who have left the world, are bound to do more and greater things, but not to overlook these. We must hate our bodies with their vices and sins because the Lord says in the Gospel: All evils, vices and sins come from the heart. We must love our enemies and do good to those who hate us. We must observe the commands and counsels of our Lord Jesus Christ. – There will be a shrinking from the Blessed Sacrament whenever there is not a good spiritual attitude in the soul.

21

We must also deny ourselves and place our bodies under the yoke of servitude and holy obedience as each one has promised to the Lord. And let no one be bound to obey another in anything in which a crime or sin would be committed. – When we are used to seeing his divinity through the species of bread, then we will be better at seeing the image of God in people.

22

Instead, let the one to whom obedience has been entrusted and who is considered the greater be the lesser and the servant of the other brothers. And let him have and show mercy to each of his brothers as he would want them to do to him, were he in a similar position. – God does not abandon us; he makes us according to his liking, whatever it happens to be. We are not abandoned.

23

Let him not become angry at the fault of a brother but, with all patience and humility, let him admonish and support him. We must not be wise and prudent according to the flesh, but, instead, we must be simple, humble and pure. – The world we live in is the battleground of the church.

24

And let us hold our bodies in scorn and contempt because, through our own fault, we are all wretched and corrupt, disgusting and worms, as the Lord says through the prophet: I am a worm and not a man, the scorn of men and the outcast of the people. – We live in a world that challenges us.  Our summons is to resist the current that carries so many downstream.

25

We must never desire to be above others, but, instead, we must be servants and subject to every human creature for God’s sake. And the Spirit of the Lord will rest upon all those men and women who have done and persevered in these things and It will make a home and dwelling place in them. – As with Gideon, God is thinning our ranks now as then, because we are preparing for a stronger and more holy church.

26

And they will be the children of their heavenly Father, Whose works they do. And they are spouses, brothers and mothers of our Lord Jesus Christ. – The Holy Spirit always works through minorities, never through majorities.

27

We are spouses when the faithful soul is united by the Holy Spirit to our Lord Jesus Christ. We are brothers, moreover, when we do the will of His Father Who is in heaven; mothers when we carry Him in our heart and body through love and a pure and sincere conscience; and give Him birth through a holy activity, which must shine before others by example. – We draw strength from our suffering brothers and sisters.

28

O how glorious and holy and great to have a Father in heaven! O how holy, consoling, beautiful and wonderful to have such a Spouse! – We must realize in minds and hearts that the only argument left to convince others is holiness.

29

O how holy and how loving, gratifying, humbling, peace-giving, sweet, worthy of love, and above all things desirable it is to have such a Brother and such a Son: our Lord Jesus Christ, Who laid down His life for His sheep and prayed to His Father, saying: Holy Father, save in your name those whom you have given me. –  Does the crucifix mean anything to us? Or do we look for Christ without the cross?

30

Let every creature in heaven, on earth, in the sea and in the depths, give praise, glory, honor and blessing To Him Who suffered so much, Who has given and will give in the future every good, for He is our power and strength, Who alone is good, Who alone is almighty, Who alone is omnipotent, wonderful, glorious and Who alone is holy, worthy of praise and blessing through endless ages. Amen – Drawing closer to the light of Christ, our fears are gone, remorse is swallowed up in the intense love of Christ.

 

June 2020 Monthly Meditation by Father Francis Sariego, OFM Cap

St. Katherine Drexel Regional Fraternity
Regional Spiritual Assistant
St. Francis of Assisi Friary
1901 Prior Road
Wilmington, Delaware 19809

 tel: (302) 798-1454      fax: (302) 798-3360      website: skdsfo.org    email: pppgusa@gmail.com

June 2020

Dear Sisters and Brothers in St. Francis,

The Lord give you His peace!

The future of the Church, as always, will be decisively influenced yet again by the saints. (The Church in the Year Two Thousand, 1970, Joseph Ratzinger)

These are powerful words the professor who was called to leave the ’comfort  zone’ of his academic environment, that he loved so much and in which he found fulfillment of his academic desires, to let go, to leave, and to enter the ’hub’ of Catholicism, Rome. The future he expected was definitely not the ’future’ he was thrust into by the Spirit of God.

Faith is not merely a noun but an exciting an active verb. Our Faith is not solely a matter of what we believe with our minds, but an active profession and constant ’development’ in life of what is proclaimed with the lips and explained so exhaustively at times in sermons and writings.  Faith leads us into a realm we could never enter were it not for this gift. Faith helps us to see with the heart what our senses cannot always perceive.  Faith helps us to know without seeing that Someone greater than ourselves is the life-giving Source that creates as an overflowing of His Eternal Love.

Coming from Love Who is The Other (God Father, Son, Holy Spirit) it follows that Eternal Love wills not to destroy anything created to His own image and likeness.  We are created as an overflowing of that Eternal Love. If then we are called to share the Life of God, it follows that we are created for and called to Holiness.  Holiness too is not a noun that indicates some very limited and at times erroneous explanations of what it means to be ’in the world but not of the world’.  Holiness is an action word (verb) indicating a decisive direction taken towards the fulfillment of our purpose for being created: to be one with God for all eternity; in other words to be saints!

Be holy because I am holy (Leviticus 11:44; 19:2).  As he who called you is holy, be holy yourselves in every aspect and conduct, for it is written, ’Be holy because I am holy’. Now, if you invoke as Father him who judges impartially according to each one’s works, conduct yourselves with reverence during the time of your sojourning, realizing that you were ransomed …with the precious blood of Christ as of a spotless unblemished lamb. (1 Peter 1: 15-19) You are not in the flesh, on the contrary, you are in the spirit, if only the Spirit of God dwells in you … But if Christ is in you … the spirit is alive because of righteousness … if you live … by the spirit you put to death the deeds of the body … For those led by the Spirit of God are children of God … and if children then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if only we suffer with him so that we may be glorified with him. (Romans 8: 9-17)

St. Peter and St. Paul, the great columns of our Faith, whose solemnity we celebrate in this month dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, speak so simply in their letters to the faithful. They remind them and us of who we are and how we are to let our lives enter the open door of the Father’s Love for us – the Sacred Heart of Jesus His Son.  The pierced Heart of Jesus is the Door to Life thrown wide open on Calvary for all by the lance of the centurion. That pierced Heart offers us access into the loving embrace of our Heavenly Father. That is where we ’find’ holiness, and how we ’become’ holy. Nevertheless, there are a number of ways we imagine holiness and strive to ’be’ or ’become’ holy.

–   Holiness is a life lived in the Spirit, Who leads and transforms us according to His will.

–   Holiness is the exclusive characteristic of God, of His very essence that becomes, or better to say should become, ours as well from the moment that God gave Himself to us, took us to Himself, made us His own, transforms us, and raised us that we might be holy and unblemished before Him (Ephesians 1:4) … to equip the holy ones for the work of the ministry, for building up the body of Christ … (Ephesians 4: 12)

–   Holiness is allowing oneself to be possessed by the Master within us and permit Him to transform our lives and our minds and hearts.  You are gods, all of you sons of the Most High. (Psalms 82:6) Jesus answered, ’Is it not written in your law, I said, ‘You are gods?’… Can you say that the one whom the Father has consecrated and sent into the world blasphemes because I have said, ’I am the Son of God?’ (John 10: 34 – 36)

–   Holiness is commitment, decisiveness, initiative, divine action that envelops us in love and introduces our minds and hearts to the true image of the world in which we live.

–   Holiness is a divine offer for us to enrich our relationship with God and be open to God’s transforming grace.

–   Holiness knowingly accepts the Mystery of the One Who calls.  It is a participation in the immensity of God’s gifts and love graciously placed at our disposal.

–   Holiness is being what we were created to be. Holiness is willingly allowing all to happen in our life, through the fruits of our works consecrated by our free will offering to God of all we are and have.

–    Holiness is actively accepting and fulfilling whatever leads us to live in the mystery of God … and so much more.

The saints have always been the fonts and origins of renewal during good times and during the difficult times of all history, and particularly that of the Church. Every age has dire need for saints to indicate the way for people today to live the Gospel values we profess.  For this grace we must never stop imploring God. As we implore the saints’ presence, prayers and protection, let us not forget that we are all called to be saints. Canonized saints are few compared to the myriad of holy people who have lived down through the centuries.  The holiness and ’sainthood’ of which we speak is our life of conformity to God’s will in all things, at all times, in all ways, because God wills it.

When we pray Thy will be done, most probably we do not really reflect on the impact the realization of those words would have on our life. Yet, that is what all God-loving people strive for an entire lifetime! To live in the will of ’The Other’ Who is God, is to live what God wills, to live in His love, and thus to be holy, different, not to conform to this world but to be transformed by the renewal of your mind (Romans 12:1-2).  We can offer the age in which we live this most valid witness of the authenticity of our Faith and the ever present power of the Holy Spirit at work in the lives of those available to His prompting. Holiness does not necessarily change what a person does, but it most definitely changes or enhances why and how the person does it.

As Brothers and Sisters and Spiritual Children of the Poverello of Assisi, we should all be intent on becoming saints.  ’Penitents of Assisi’, are called to witness the power of Eternal Love that makes us a ’leaven’ in the world to help people rise to full stature of the children of God, and a ’light’ to enlighten those who walk in the darkness of disorientation, difficulty, doubt and so much more that inhibits one from recognizing the presence of a good and loving God in their life.

Holiness is not relegated to a once-a-month gathering of a few hours.  Nor can we believe that reciting prayers will make us holy; they serve to help keep our hearts focused on God so that we can live holy lives and Be Holy! Holiness is a lifetime experience that reaches its fullness only when the Father calls us home to eternity.  Since life is the preparation for Life, we must strive to progress, even if ever so slowly, to grow in our relationship with God and live in His grace, or we will definitely backslide quickly beyond the point from which we had begun. The going gets more demanding each time we have to ’begin again’.

We must rid ourselves of mediocrity!  Mediocrity and lukewarmness are similar attributes of those who care less about things, and thus are careless about their spiritual growth. How we are within ourselves usually determines how we live our lives and interact with others. The spirit and the body form the one person.  How the spirit grows will influence how the body (person) acts.  When we are mediocre and tepid in our spiritual life and to those ’things’ that pertain to our eternal salvation, then the matter is serious. In the Book of Revelation, the Lord speaks to the Church of Laodicea saying: Because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I will vomit you out of my mouth. (Revelation 3: 16)

The Holy Spirit fills the person with spiritual fruits and gifts that flow from God’s loving and abundant grace, and the person’s cooperation and collaboration with the working of the Holy Spirit.  Once the Spirit is within a person,  how can anyone sit back and not allow the power of God and the Spirit to excite, encourage and enable the person to let go and let God?!  The word ’enthusiasm’ itself easily refers to the power of the Holy Spirit.  Two Greek words form the essence of the word: ’en’’ in, and ’theos’ ’ God. Thus enthusiasm deals with ’the God within’, the God within each one of us.  How can anyone remain spiritually lethargic when God and His graces are working within us! Although particular conditions and circumstances may impede certain physical actions, no one can hold back a heart enthused from being open to God in His Spirit!

Holiness is not unattainable.  Holiness is a ’universal call’ challenging everyone.  Holiness is not ’things to do’ or ’words to say’, though they are all helpful and necessary.  Holiness is a Person: GOD!  Jesus has shown us the loving face of the Father.  St. John reminds us: God so loved the world that He sent His Son … not to condemn the world but that the world should be saved through Him (John 3: 16)   Let us follow the example of the holy ones we honor and venerate. Our Seraphic Father St. Francis of Assisi, our Holy Mother St. Clare and all the saints, St. Joseph, Our Blessed Mother and Jesus Himself, all tell us through word and example, that no matter what we do and say to help us keep on the road to holiness only one essential thing is required that is infallible and always successful, God’s Will.  The will of God is that we be holy, thus Holiness is to live in God’s will!

In the Universal Prayer attributed to  Pope Clement XI we read: Lord, I will whatever You will, I will it because You will it, I will it in the way you will it, I will it for as long as You will it.  There are no conditions, reservations, fine print clauses, or anything at all that might compromise the totality of the fulfillment of God’s Most Holy Will in our life. If that is our prayer, each day, and we are faithful to that prayer, then the obvious result must be that we are one with God’s will, thus one with God’s grace, and, it follows, we are becoming holy!  To be ’holy’ is to Live God’s Will without gloss, as Our Seraphic Father told his brothers who accepted to live the life of the friars as a response to God’s call. We are all ’saints in progress’, rough pieces of material in the hands of the Master Who will fashion us into the best work we can become, as long as we cooperate with His grace and designs for us.  Let our prayer always be as Jesus taught us: Father, Your Will be done on earth as it is in heaven!

May God bless us; may Mary, Queen and Mother of our Seraphic Family, keep us in the depths of Her Immaculate Heart; and may Our Seraphic Father St. Francis of Assisi watch over each one of us, his Spiritual Children, with loving care.

May the Sacred Heart of Jesus be a constant reminder of God’s Extravagant Love for us, and through Jesus’ obedience even to death, may we live the Father’s Will to Life Eternal, always obedient to the prompting of the Holy Spirit within.

Peace and Blessings

Fr. Francis A. Sariego, O.F.M. Cap.

Regional Spiritual Assistant

 

 

 

May 2020, Fifth Anniversary of Laudato Si – Jeff Redder, OFS JPIC Animator

With the start of Laudato Si Week today and the recent conclusion of the National JPIC Commission Conference, I prepared the attached newsletter for local fraternities to use to promote JPIC.

Of important note is our call to pray on Sunday, May 24th at noon (local time) as part of a global Care for Creation.

Hopefully this will bring you all up to date on what is happening at the National Level and local level concerning JPIC.  As you will see, we all need to pray over our outlook and our understanding of what JPIC means to each of us.  There is always room for lots of dialogue and discussion when we can get back together as fraternities, because I know how we all miss the company and togetherness.

May God continue to watch over each of us as we continue with our daily lives!

Yours in Christ,

Jeffrey C Redder, OFS

SKD Regional JPIC Animator

May 2020-SKD JPIC Animator Laudato-Si-Bulletin-Insert USCCB Laudato-Si-discussion-guide

May, 2020, from the Regional Minister

Along With Everything Else in the World, Communicating Has Turned Upside Down!

Oh, the times we live in!  Could you ever imagine (outside of a Stephen King novel) that churches are locked, most people are not working, most retail business is closed and in order to go out of your house, you must wear a mask!?  Who would have thought? I’m not sure even Stephen King could dream up all that we have been through in the last two months that feel like two years. And I haven’t even touched on the virus itself and how it is robbing us of our loved ones, our health, our peace of mind, our livelihood, and our lives as we knew them.

Nothing is the same;  we’ve been shaken to our boots and yet, here we are.  Many of our local Councils and fraternities have met through conference calls or ZOOM meetings. Formation has started up again using some form of meeting virtually.  The only way to attend Mass is by watching it on TV or streaming on the computer.  Who would have thought??

But…………… and you knew that was coming, right!?  There are many good things coming out of the pandemic.  We have prayed the rosary together on the phone and we prayed the Stations of the Cross and the Divine Mercy Chaplet….on the phone.  Who would have thought?  The first night of the rosary, there were 80 of us on that call.  And although the parts where we prayed together sounded like a joyful Tower of Babel, we were one, saying one prayer with one purpose.  Who would have thought??

I was asked the other night what ministries we can be involved in with all these restrictions.  My immediate answer was “We are each other’s ministries!”  We need to check in with each other on a regular basis.  And that is not a task that has the ministers’ names on it.  It is something all of us can and need to be doing.  And I’m going to up the ante.  S-T-R-E-T-C-H those dusty Franciscan skills and call someone from your fraternity that you don’t regularly talk to or sit with at meetings or maybe don’t even like. It doesn’t have to be a long conversation and if it helps, write down a couple questions before you call.  Then, if the conversation lags for some reason, you are ready with some backup topics.  We have been given the gift of time and wouldn’t it be such a blessing all around if we actually got to know one another better?  Who would have thought??!!

We need to learn how to communicate and convey our love and joy….from behind the masks we are wearing.  That’s a skill that is going to take some work. If all someone can see of us is our eyes, are they getting the kindness our smile would normally be conveying?

When I was in high school – oh so long ago! – I went on a weekend retreat and late on Saturday afternoon, we were given the hardest task in the world.  We had arrived on Friday after school and the group consisted of high school seniors from the local Catholic high schools.  We were assigned rooms so we couldn’t bunk with our best friends.  We were separated into groups that had a good mix of kids from different schools.  And then we were assigned places at table for meals.  All to have us with someone we didn’t know.  And then came the group task on Saturday afternoon.  After listening to a wonderful presentation on forgiveness and accepting people as they are, each of us was told to go pair up with someone who we didn’t particularly like.  What a humbling experience.  We each had to go to someone we didn’t like and say, will you be my partner in this exercise.  At that point, we didn’t know what the exercise was.  For each pair, one was the leader and one was being led.  The one being led was blindfolded and taken outside by the leader and taken on a Blind Faith Walk.  The blindfolded one could not speak and had to rely on the leader to tell him or her when to turn, when to step up, when to step over and these directions were coming from someone we admittedly didn’t like!  So how hard can it be to pick up the phone and check in on someone?  Now, don’t get the wrong idea and think that anyone who calls you is someone who doesn’t like you!!  Look at it as the one who called you would really like to get to know you a little better and as a Secular Franciscan, is reaching out in love and concern to see how you are doing.

We all know this isn’t going to be over any time soon so I would like to go even further and perhaps once a month, have each minister trade phone lists with another minister and have the folks in your fraternity call from the list of another fraternity.  We might really end up knowing each other!  Who would have thought??  And the answer is simple.  Who would have thought?  God.  Pure and simple.  The pandemic has given us a lot of lemons.  God has given us the recipe for lemonade.

“Let each one confidently make known his need to another that the other might discover what is needed and minister to him. Let each one love and care for his brother as a mother loves and cares for her son in those matters in which God has given him the grace.” St. Francis   ~ St. Francis of Assisi, The Earlier Rule, (IX: Begging Alms), 71  Thanks, Cindy Louden, OFS, for this beautiful and very appropriate portion of The Earlier Rule

May 2020 Thought for the Day by Father Francis Sariego, OFM Cap

May 2020

 

Hail, O Lady, holy Queen, you are the virgin made church

and the one chosen by the most holy Father in heaven

whom He consecrated with His most holy beloved Son

and with the Holy Spirit the Paraclete,

in whom there was and is all the fullness of grace and every good.

Hail, His Palace! Hail, His, Tabernacle! Hail, His Home!

Hail, His Robe! Hail, His Servant!  Hail, His Mother!

And hail all you holy virtues which through the grace and light of the Holy Spirit

are poured into the hearts of the faithful so that from

their faithless state you may make them faithful to God.

(Salutation of the Blessed Virgin)

 

(below: first quote from Franciscan sources – second quote from various spiritual writers)

1

It was not that he was a man who prayed, than he himself was a living prayer. (2 Celano,chpt.95) – Abraham hoped everything would stay put, but he left everything and everyone on God’s word and traveled into the unknown.

2

His sure harbor was prayer not for a moment, but profoundly devout, humble and prolonged as much as possible.  If he began at night, with difficulty he ended his prayer in the morning. (1 Celano,chpt.71) – Like Abraham, we are sustained by not simply a promise, but by the Promise of God which was fleshed out in Jesus.

3

Often, almost daily, he withdrew secretly to pray.  He was inclined to do so by that same tenderness he had tasted  earlier, which now visited him ever more frequently, driving him to prayer in the piazza and in other public places. (Three Companions,chpt.3)  – Moses longed to see his dreams completed and stopped short of the land he was allowed to see but not enter.

4

Francis, totally unaware of earthly desires through love of Christ, strove to keep his spirit present to God by praying without ceasing lest he be without them consolation of the Beloved. (Major Legend,chpt.10) – It was enough for Moses to be given evidence of the future to die fulfilled and in peace.

5

The man of God gathered with his companions. They spent their time praying incessantly, directing their efforts mentally rather than vocally to devoted prayers, because they did have liturgical books from which to chant the canonical hours. (Major Legend,chpt.4) – Joseph, in spite of the rough breaks he had experienced since being sold by his brothers, refused to quit.

6

Let all the brothers always strive to exert themselves in doing good works. Servants of God, therefore, must always apply themselves to prayer or some good work. (Earlier Rule,chpt.7) – God intends you to be the person on whom He has conferred a unique “personhood”. God has committed Himself to you. Agree to do the same to Him.

7

Let us always make a home and a dwelling place for Him Who is the Lord God Almighty, father, Son and Holy Spirit, Who says: Be vigilant at all times and pray that you have the strength to escape the tribulations that are imminent. When you stand to pray say: Our Father in heaven. (Earlier Rule,chpt.22) – David wanted to build a monument to God but had to prepare the material for another to build.

8

Those brothers to whom the Lord has given the grace of working may work faithfully and devotedly so that, while avoiding idleness, the enemy of the soul, they do not extinguish the Spirit of holy prayer and devotion to which all temporal things must contribute. (Later Rule,chpt.5) – You who are meant to be part of God’s family,  are one of the community of the Crucified One; you too must crucify self and forget ego trips. Trust Him!

9

I admonish and exhort the brothers in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ to pay attention to what they must desire above all else: to have the Spirit of the Lord and Its holy activity, to pray always to Him with a pure heart, to have humility and patience in persecution and infirmity. (Later Rule,chpt.10) – Elijah was so demoralized he wanted to give up, but God knew the inner strength of Elijah and gave him a firm >no=.

10

I am pleased that you teach sacred theology to the brothers providing that, as is contained in the Rule, you do not extinguish the Spirit of prayer and devotion, during study of this kind. (Letter to St. Anthony) – There is no permanent retirement for a Christian, only temporary respites from time to time to rest and reequip.

11

Francis used to say that, because of the office of prelacy or of zeal for preaching, they should not abandon holy and devout prayer, going for alms, and working at times with their hands, and performing other humble tasks like the other brothers, for good example and for the benefit of their souls, as well as others. (Mirror,chpt.73) – Jonah tried to run away from God’s Will and acceptance of his responsibilities, but he could not run from God.

12

He said that (ministers of the word of God) were heralds chosen by a great king. For he used to say: The preacher must first secretly draw in by prayer what he later pours out in sacred preaching; he must first of all grow warm on the inside, or he will speak frozen words on the outside.  (2Celano,chpt.122) – God still replies in the negative to those who claim a special relationship, but try to escape from responsibilities, or fall into a narrow, self-centered outlook.

13

(Description of General Minister) He must be a committed friend of holy prayer, who can distribute some hours for his soul and others for the flock entrusted to him. (2Celano,chpt.139) – Job questioned God and demanded answers, but God gave him no answers; His questions were more profound and penetrating.

14

They never or hardly ever stopped praying and praising God. They gave thanks to God for the good done. They would have thought themselves abandoned by God if they did not experience in their ordinary prayers that they were constantly visited by the spirit of devotion. (1Celano,chpt.15) – We present-day Jobs also are promised God’s sufficiency. He gives more than answers. He shares His life with us.

15

They were so devoted to prayer that there was no hour of the night that someone could not be found at prayer in the oratory. (Thomas Eccleston,#27) – The God who has committed Himself to us insists on a like-minded commitment.

16

The brothers at that time begged him to teach them how to pray, because, walking in simplicity of spirit, up to that time they did not know.  (1Celano,chpt.17) – The “covenanting” God has given His word to us that He will not desert us.  That promise has been sealed in blood – literally!

17

He implored divine clemency to show him what he had to do. (Major Legend,chpt.1) – The cross has been so sentimentalized by so many generations of songwriters and preachers that it no longer has any sting.

18

He had recourse to prayer that he might insistently implore what the will of God was regarding some specific matter. (Major Legend,1) – You have been given the gift of living and dying just one death. You may lay down your e energies, your time, and your goods for others, or you may stockpile self until it crushes you.

19

Fasting and weeping, he earnestly prayed for the savior’s mercy, and lacking confidence in his own efforts, he cast his care upon the Lord. (1Celano,chpt.5) – Time does not necessarily heal all wounds; sometimes it merely covers them with scar tissue.

20

Foreseeing the great things that God would do through him and his Order, he was calling and praying to God that, by his mercy and omnipotence, without which human frailty can do nothing, he should supply, help, and fulfill that which he could not do by himself. (Little Flowers,chpt.2) – Jesus has called “friend” the one we would label “enemy”; He pronounces them subjects of concern rather than objects of contempt.

21

Francis said: Wait for me a bit, because I first want to pray to God that He make our journey fruitful, that Christ, by virtue of His most holy passion, be pleased to give us poor and weak men this noble prey that we are  planning to take from the world. (Little Flowers,chpt.37) – Peter tried to bury his guilt of denial and grief of loss in work; he could not forget or conceal in activity his “failure”.

22

He saw St. Francis devoutly at prayer before Christ, who had appeared to him during that prayer and was in front of him. He saw Francis lifted up bodily from the earth.  Because of this he was touched by God and inspired to leave the world. (Little Flowers,chpt.37) –The Resurrection is God’s mighty “no” to depression and death.

23

He never ceased crying out to God with humble prayers and fervent affection, that God would protect the Order and grant salvation to all the friars, present and future. (Angelo Clareno) – A beggar pleaded for a handout and was given a hand up. God gives us His gifts that we may learn to help ourselves.

24

As blessed Francis got up, he joined his hands and, lifting his eyes to heaven, said: Lord, I give back to You the family which until now you have entrusted to me. (2Celano,chpt.104) – We carry the name “Christian” and stand strong in its meaning.

25

Once while his vicar was holding a chapter, he was praying in his cell, as the go-between and mediator between his brothers and God. (Major Legend,chpt.11) – Paul begged for healing and was given a thorn in the flesh, and a reminder that “my strength is sufficient”.

26

After I resigned my office among the brothers because of my illnesses, I am not bound at all except to pray for the religion and to show good example. The greatest help I can render to the religion is to spend time everyday in prayer to the Lord for it.  (Mirror,#81) – St. Teresa: Lord when will you cease to strew our path with obstacles? And the Lord: Don’t complain, this is how I treat my friends.  St. Teresa: Dear Lord, that is why You have so few.

27

The abbot of the monastery of San Giustino happened to meet Saint Francis. He humbly asked him to pray for him, and Saint Francis replied: My Lord, I will willingly pray. When the abbot had ridden away, he said to the brother with him: Wait for me a little while, brother, for I want to pay the debt I promised. (2Celano,chpt.117) – There is a certain enjoyment of unpleasant places when the challenges they offer help us to grow.

28

A pilgrim while in the body, away from the Lord, Francis, man of God, strove to keep himself present in spirit to heaven. With all his soul he thirsted for his Christ. We will tell about the wonders of his prayer, things that we have seen with our own eyes. (2Celano,chpt.61) – The all-powerful Lord turns even the causes of our curses into good.

29

He found (Greccio) rich in poverty and there, in a remote little cell on a cliff, he could give himself freely to heavenly things.  (2Celano,chpt.7) – Jesus is not a “departed hero”, a “deceased leader”, but the living Lord, Who does not leave us to fend for ourselves.

30

Brother Body should be cared for with discernment so it won’t get weary keeping vigil and staying fervently at prayer. (2Celano,chpt.92) – At the time when the outlook seems most bleak and pessimistic, God frequently opens new doors.  Sometimes, God seemingly allows roadblocks because He has bigger plans for us.

31

When he returned from his private prayers, in which he was changed almost into a different man, he tried his best to resemble the others, lest, if he appeared glowing, the breeze of favor might cancel what he had gained. (2Celano,chpt.65) – “Help” signals often are hard to pick up. God, however, patiently waits for us to be sensitive enough to detect those signs and signals from others.

 

 

 

May 2020 Meditation by Father Francis Sariego, OFM Cap

St. Katherine Drexel Regional Fraternity

Regional Spiritual Assistant

St. Francis of Assisi Friary

1901 Prior Road

Wilmington, Delaware 19809

 

tel: (302) 798-1454      fax: (302) 798-3360      website:  skdsfo     email: pppgusa@gmail.com

 

 

May 2020

Dear Sisters and Brothers in St. Francis,

 

The following prayer of our Seraphic Father St. Francis of Assisi tells us so much of his love for Mary and his awareness of Her place in the mystery of our salvation.  His love for Her was undeniable. Francis saw the Mother of God and our Heavenly Mother always in relationship to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and, because of that, to the Church.

 

Holy Virgin Mary, among the women born into the world,

there is no one like you.

Daughter and servant of the most high and supreme

King and of the Father in heaven,

Mother of our most holy Lord Jesus Christ,

Spouse of the Holy Spirit,

pray for us with Saint Michael the Archangel,

all the powers of heaven and all the saints,

at the side of your most beloved Son, our Lord and Teacher.

 The Easter Season calls to mind the great truths of our Faith celebrated in this most holy period. The Incarnation of the Word in the womb of Mary is the beginning of the fulfillment of the Father’s Promise to humanity. Human nature is redeemed on Calvary, assured of salvation for those who live in the light and truth of the Resurrection of Jesus, and is raised up with Jesus and glorified in His Ascension.  The Coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost heralds the birth of the Church and its coming of age to Proclaim the Gospel to every creature. (Mark 16: 15-16) The Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity celebrates God in Himself – The Father Who creates; the Son, the Incarnate Word, Who redeems; and the Holy Spirit Who continues the action of sanctification down through the ages. And Mary is an integral participant in every moment from the beginning to the fulfillment of God’s Promises.

 Our Blessed Mother Mary, the mere mention of Whose name speaks of the “Yes” with which she responded to God’s offer to become His earthly Mother, is a powerful and gentle reminder of the eminent role She fulfills in the mystery and history of our salvation. Throughout the liturgical year Our Lady is always present as the Church celebrates the mysteries of Her Son. True devotion to Mary, our Mother and Queen, whose Immaculate Heart envelops all Her children with tender loving care, always leads us to Jesus, Her Son, and to a greater love and trust in God.

 With the passing of time, many “obvious”  remembrances are institutionalized as feasts or celebrations of some sort, so that we do not forget their significance in our journey of faith. The further away we move in time from the actual events and persons we habitually celebrate, the more they can become a mere memory of the past rather than a living experience for us today. When we celebrate God and His saving action in and for humanity, the relevance and experience are always actual and timely.  There can never be a time or occasion when God is not relevant or necessary. If God does not build the house, in vain do the laborers labor.  If God does not watch over the city, in vain does the watchman keep vigil. (Psalm 127: 1)

 It is this active presence of God that demands we return to our origins to re-discover the relevance of God’s Word and the impact His Word must have on our daily life.  If we could see the events of our Faith with the heart of those who had seen and walked with Jesus, before and after His Passion-Death-Resurrection, things would be drastically different. If we could only allow the events of our lives and how God manifests Himself to us to penetrate our hearts as Mary did!  She kept all these things in Her heart. (Luke 2: 19)  If we could only remember that we as Franciscans are called to live the Gospel, and thus reflect – keep in our hearts – upon the words of the Word and take them to ourselves, how different our response would be to the challenges of openness, compassion, understanding, patience, acceptance, detachment, transparency, obedience, Franciscan fraternity … LOVE! 

 With the eyes of a Faith convinced and committed, we can experience the same zeal and enthusiasm of the first followers. We too can be excited, enthused and encouraging not only about our Catholic Faith in general, but also about our Franciscan vocation in particular, and all that envisions and expects of us who profess to be Franciscans.

 The Holy Spirit that descended on the first followers is the same Holy Spirit that we receive at Baptism and Confirmation.  The distinction is seen in the effects of the Spirit’s presence based on the availability of the person “gifted” by the Holy Spirit. Our Faith, founded on the Passion-Death-Resurrection of Jesus, would be of no value had it not been for the empowering of the Spirit in those first followers whose availability to His prompting allowed themselves to be led by the Holy Spirit of God that they might lead others. We are called to lead others to know, love and serve God in the Gospel Life proclaimed by Jesus. In the Spirit, we remember, we celebrate, and we believe Jesus to be the Incarnate Son of God and Redeemer of humanity.  This Faith will bring us to a deeper and more meaningful relationship with Jesus, and consequently with one another, just as it did for the first followers. Mary, once again, is the prime exemplar; She believed the unbelievable, was overshadowed by the Holy Spirit, (Luke 1: 34-35) and the impossible happened!  The Creator became one with His creature; divinity and humanity became one … through the total surrender in Faith of Mary to the Father’s will. 

 The first and most excellent of all the faithful followers was Mary, our Blessed Mother. Faith accompanied Her into the divine plan that made Her Mother of the Christ, Mother of the Christian, Mother of the Church.  The depth of Faith of the Mother of God, expressed so powerfully at the foot of the Cross of Jesus, was enhanced with the added ministry entrusted to Her by Her dying Son. He called Her to become the Mother of all the Faithful: Woman, behold Your son; Son, behold Your Mother. (John 19: 26-27) Infinitely less than Jesus and eminently greater than all humanity, Mary makes the ultimate sacrifice in offering Her Son to the Father with the same availability to the Father’s Will with which She offered Her first “yes” to become the Mother of the Savior.  She manifests Herself to be, in the words of our Seraphic Father St. Francis, the Virgin made Church.  

 The Church maintains the living presence of the Savior, most especially in the great gift of the Eucharist – the living Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of the Savior. This same Church continues, with Mary, to offer Her Son – our Brother, Lord, Savior, Word Incarnate, GOD – to the Father, in that one perfect Sacrifice perpetuated through the ages in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. We are that Church! We, like Mary, offer ourselves each day in loving response to God’s tremendous love for us in Jesus. And we are spiritually transformed by the graces that flow to us from Jesus through Mary.  We are offered the challenge and opportunity to become the living image of the One whom we consume, as He consumes us, JESUS.

 Mother of the Redeemer, She excels in the example of total surrender to God’s Will. Her Faith is an active and essential element of Her very being.  Faith is not just a static acceptance of some theological truth. It is living life in the light of what we have come to believe.  “Believing is seeing”, not vice versa as we are accustomed to presume.  Believing God’s Word, we see God’s almighty power and providence at work in our lives, and thus we can confidently yield to all the Father requests of us. This same Faith places Mary in a position of total trust in God and profound love for all His children, now entrusted to Her motherly care by Jesus.  She stands as the Advocate for all Her children before the Majesty of the Blessed Trinity.  Truly She is, as St. Francis of Assisi acknowledged:   Daughter and Servant of the Most High and Supreme King and of the Father in heaven, Mother of our most holy Lord Jesus Christ, Spouse of the Holy Spirit. (Antiphon Office of the Passion) Her intimate relationship with the Triune God enables Her to be our most powerful Advocate in heaven.

 We can see how Our Blessed Mother is significantly and actively present throughout Salvation History.  Mary is the virgin who will conceive and bear a Son … who will be called Emmanuel – God is with us (Isaiah 7: 10-14).  Mary conceived by the Holy Spirit, gave birth at Bethlehem, accompanied Jesus to the foot of the Cross, and is in the company of the Apostles and other women in the Cenacle (Acts 1: 14).  Mary is the woman about to give birth,… She gave birth to a son … destined to rule all the nations … the ancient serpent, … pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child…the (serpent) became angry with the woman and went off to wage war against the rest of her offspring, those who keep God’s commandments and bear witness to Jesus  (cfr. Revelation 12: 1-18). A promise of God’s fulfilling Word in Isaiah and a warning of the struggles that will always ensue between good and evil should never leave us confused or fearful. It is Mary’s good counsel and advice, the last recorded words of Our Lady in Scripture that offer a way that cannot fail. These words reveal our Mother’s concern for Her children and Her own total trust in God: Do whatever He tells you. (cfr. John 2: 1-11).  How much easier could it be!?  Why do we make it so difficult!?

 Present in prophecy, present in history, and present in the expectations of all God’s People, Mary is a life-giving presence that speaks of the power of God working in human history. Mary is a sign of hope for a waiting world. She reverses the obstinacy of creation in Eden and accepts wholeheartedly to cooperate with all the Father asks of Her.  She becomes the Mother of all the Faithful Who enter into a New Covenant with the Father in the Blood of His Son, conceived in Her by the power of the Holy Spirit. Mary’s loving response and daily re-commitment to that response encourages us to respond to the Father and to ask that Jesus come alive in our hearts through the same Holy Spirit working within us.

 Mary was the first to practice the Gospel in all its perfection before it was written. May Her example and prayers enable us and stimulate us to follow that example.  We must make every effort, like many elect souls, to follow invariably this Blessed Mother, to walk close to Her since there is no other sure path leading to Jesus – the Way, the Truth and the Life – except the path followed by our Mother.  We cannot afford to refuse to take this path, we who want to reach our journey’s end “successfully”. With Her, close to Jesus, we can proceed confidently through life in the midst of whatever we may encounter or we must bear.

 As Followers of the Poverello of Assisi, we strive to live the Faith we profess and to see in Our Heavenly Mother a sure Advocate Who pleads our cause. We open our hearts to the Spirit we have received and we listen to God Who speaks to us in the silence of our hearts.  Francis encourages us to foster an ever-growing love for our Mother Who stands to intercede for us at every moment.  Mary’s life was one continual “yes” to God.  Following Her example, let us gratefully accept sorrows, hardships, fortune, and all life offers and/or demands with the same “yes” Mary offered to God. Her response to God’s invitation allowed the Eternal One to be enfleshed in Her life. During these trying times we have been experiencing, we continue to entrust ourselves to our Mother’s “almighty intercession”. May Her Son Jesus hear the plea we make through Her, and bring an end to the terrible pandemic that affects the whole world.

 With every best wish for you during this season of new birth and new life, I pray we all live as the “People of the Resurrection”. In the midst of all the entire world is going through with the pandemic, let us pray earnestly that God bless our world with healing and freedom from this evil that has attacked all creation. May our lives be a song of praise to the God Who creates, redeems and sanctifies.  He gave us Mary, His daughter, His mother, and His spouse as our intimate companion to help us come closer to one another as Her children, as She leads us ever closer to Jesus Her Son. May we confidently respond, as our Blessed Mother Mary did with a determined “Yes” to all the Father asks of us, and thus become more like Jesus in Whose image Scripture tells us we are created. Let us all be open to the working of the Holy Spirit, first gift of the Resurrection, Whose descent upon the early Church gathered together with Mary in the Cenacle, we celebrate this year on the last day of May. May the Holy Spirit inflame our hearts as He filled Our Mother Mary and all the first followers.

 God bless and keep all of you safe; Our Lady guide, guard, and protect you; and may our Seraphic Father St. Francis of Assisi watch over each one of us, his Spiritual Children, with loving care.

 Peace and Blessings

Fr. Francis A. Sariego, O.F.M Cap.

Regional Spiritual Assistant

 

 

From the Regional Formation Director – April 2020

SKD Formation Monthly-April 2020

Easter Message 2020 from the Regional Minister

Dear brothers and sisters, the Lord is RISEN!  Alleluia!! Alleluia!!  I’m sure you are thinking that is a mighty strange picture for Easter Sunday so let me explain. I have never seen a picture like this before.  It speaks to my very soul.  After all that Jesus has gone through this past week, when he finally gets back to the Father, Jesus is held against the Father’s chest while the Father gently kisses His Son.  I don’t see them, but I think God the Father has a tear or two rolling down His cheeks.  This picture says a whole lot to me about the situation we are in right now.  When we can be with our families again there will be wildly, joyful, exuberant hugs.  But there will be that one family member who just holds you against his or her chest, gently kissing your head while tears stream down his or her cheeks.
Our Lord has RISEN, risen, indeed! We, however, are still in this hell with no end in sight.  Our day for rejoicing is coming.We could never make it through without this day occurring.  Be grateful today that our Lord has triumphed over death.  But remember, He was alone when it happened.  Just like we are alone now.  He understands how we are feeling. So, some time today, lean into His chest and wait for the kiss.  He understands and He is waiting for you! Alleluia! Alleluia!!
May the Lord comfort you today and may you enjoy today in whatever way you can!

Petition Pray for CoronaVirus

Dear Father, Almighty Healer and Physician, we bring our fears, anxiety and petitions to you during this outbreak of coronavirus.  Please restore our inner peace so that we can be a shining light to those stuck in the darkness.

And let us pray for

+        All those who have the virus and fear the outcome, may they find their peace in you.

+        All the medical staff who cannot work from home but need to be in the ‘trenches’ taking care of the sick, may they have the stamina and good health to continue to serve.

+        For all the working parents who are suddenly faced with their childrens’ schools being closed. Help them to find a solution that does not impact their earnings too greatly.

+        For all those who are worried, please grant them the peace to get through this time.

+        For all those working extra hours to provide more test kits, masks and sanitizer, shower them with the ability to keep up their difficult schedule.

+        And for all the rest of us, please help us make good decisions about where we go and when to stay home, what supplies we buy and how much/many, and most especially keep us calm and filled with Your grace so that we are able to reach out to others in need.

We ask these things through the Sacred Heart of Your Son, Jesus.  May we be open to Your Ministering to us so that we are equipped to minister to others.   Amen

 

 

Sight and Sound Theater presents free version of their show Jesus

Special thanks to Beth DeLuca, OFS, from St. Maximilian Kolbe for sharing this one!  I saw the show last Fall at the Sight and Sound Theater.  Magnificent production!  If the link isn’t working, copy and paste it into your browser.  IT IS AVAILABLE ON EASTER WEEKEND

https://watch.tbn.org/sight-sound-theatres-presents-jesus