At my fraternity gathering last month, our Formation Director, Justin Carisio, OFS, spoke about a book by Pope Francis – The Name of God is Mercy. The title alone could take an entire evening to discuss.
Justin focused on just a few points from the book; one of which was Apostolate of the Ear. I must say, when I saw that topic, I was a little skeptical of how that would tie in. Basically, what it means is to give the gift of listening to someone who needs to be heard. And we all need to be heard.
Being called a good listener is a compliment, but one that is seldom heard any more. We have all learned to tune each other out. People walk by briskly on the street with their ear buds firmly in place. Whether they are listening to music or not, having those ear buds on is an excuse not to talk to anyone and especially not to listen to anyone.
We live in a very noisy world. The TV is on while three people in the room are having conversations on three different cell phones. A man I used to work for would call me every morning to talk about what was going on in the office and what was going on with me. And he would be checking e-mail at the same time. He never heard what I was trying to tell him. And it hurt. I wasn’t worth his time or full attention.
Isn’t really listening to someone a true act of humility? We have to shut down our own ego and problems of the moment and really concentrate on the words coming from the other person. We give the gift of ourselves to the person who needs to be heard. How Franciscan!
Most times, people are not looking for solutions to their problems or an opinion about what has them upset. They just want someone to validate them, let them know they are valuable to us. In our Rule, Chapter 2, #5, the first sentence is: Secular Franciscans, therefore, should seek to encounter the living and active person of Christ in their brothers and sisters,
If Christ came to you after a bad day, would you check e-mail while He spoke to you? During the month of May, let all of us work on this small but powerful gift to give to the Christ we meet every single day. May God bless and direct our steps as we strive to follow in the footsteps of our Seraphic Father.
Much love and many blessings,
Peace be with you! Brothers and sisters,
Well here we are coming close to the end of the Easter Season which hopefully leads us to a new a joyous beginning.
This month is filled with many feasts and celebrations and so what do I choose for the topic of this month’s formation topic??
Although we are rich in our resources for topics to choose, I decided that I would find something different which would correlate Our Lady and Pentecost which are a part of this month’s feasts and celebrations.
It so happened while researching I came up with the Post Vatican ll Magesterial documents about 15 in all.
I will list three of them with the paragraph number and the rest is for your research should you chose to do so. I found it very interesting and a cause for giving a talk and research. The theme: Mary’s Life Pentecost.
LUMEN GENTIUM 1964 * before the day of Pentecost “persevering with one mind in prayer with the women and Mary the Mother of Jesus, and with his brethren (Acts 1:14) 59
*and we also see Mary by her prayers imploring the gift of the Spirit, who had already overshadowed her in the Annunciation 59
BEHOLD YOUR MOTHER (USA) 1973 * there are striking likenesses between the Annunciation & Pentecost. Mary the great mother figure for the Church, is present not only at the Annunciation, but praying with her Son’s disciples before Pentecost 79
*After Christ’s resurrection, surrounded by His disciples, Mary prayed for the coming of that same Spirit, in order that the church, the Body of her Son, might be born in Pentecost. 115
CATEHESI TRANDENDATE 1979 * Virgin of Pentecost (title invoking her intercession) 73
These documents also lead to subtitles as well.
Resource: The Marian Library/International Marian Research Institute
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)
Following are excerpts taken from various Franciscan Sources
Daily meditative phrases based on: Words of Pope John Paul II
Learn from me for I am meek and humble of heart…Whether on the lips of Christ or St. Francis, they are a short and succinct saying, which in concise and plain terms expresses the sum total of gospel perfection. – Nourish within yourself the sense of God’s presence by listening to his word, by prayer, by the celebration of the sacraments, by service to your brothers and sisters.
To encourage us he says: Learn from me, and to inspire us he adds: For I am meek and humble of heart…The words…can give encouragement: Take me as our model of discipleship and embrace my teaching. – Become heralds and witnesses to the loving and saving presence of God in today’s world.
The essence of true discipleship of Jesus Christ, which was singularly realized and shone in Saint Francis, consists first of all in separating oneself from the company of evil people…from evil and divisive company. – To forgive is the only way, because all revenge and all violence give rise to further revenge and violence.
Second, it is essential for true discipleship to free oneself from useless cares in the affairs of life. Anyone who is anxious about useless things cannot give attention to those that are profitable. – It is certainly less difficult to forgive when one is aware that God never tires of loving and forgiving us.
It is impossible, or at least very difficult, to have great possessions without being preoccupied with them…Taking this to heart, Saint Francis on hearing God’s voice at once gave everything away to the extent that he did not keep back a stitch to cover his nakedness. – Who does not need God’s forgiveness?
This is what anyone must do who desires to be a perfect disciple of Christ…If one does not have the will to do that, one must at least keep oneself from the cares, anxieties and vanities that go with possessions; otherwise one will be a disciple not of Christ but of the devil. – Without God we cannot understand ourselves, and cannot even fulfill ourselves.
Third, the true disciple must rid himself of inordinate attachment to his loved ones…The Lord does not forbid us to love our father and mother…; what he does forbid is to be inordinately attached to our parents, because inordinate attachment rejects the teaching of Christ. – The contemplation of Christ has an incomparable model in Mary. In a unique way the face of the Son belongs to Mary.
Fourth, the true disciple of Christ must purify his heart of all that militates against the practice of virtue. – When one goes through difficult times…nothing can replace an ardent, personal, and confident faith that is open to the Lord.
You will not be able to learn holiness from Christ unless you have resolved to eradicate its opposite, sinfulness, just as knowledge cannot be acquires unless satisfaction with its opposite, ignorance, has been uprooted.- In every person we meet, even in those who openly profess not to be interested in the things of the Spirit, the need of God is real.
Saint Francis strove with constant signs of sorrow to root out vice and sin totally from the field of his heart. Nor did he cease to lament up to the moment when he was found worthy to hear from God: Your sins are forgiven. – It is the task of believers to bear witness to the liberating truth of the gospel, offering the light of Christ to everyone.
Saint Francis, then, can rightly say, Learn from me, that is, take me as our model of discipleship, for I am a true disciple of Christ…Likewise he can say to us…embrace my teaching, because by being a true disciple, he became an authentic teacher.- A sign of the power of God is the witness borne by missionaries…shining with the glory of those who sacrificed themselves to save the lives of others.
(St. Francis) taught what he himself had learned without error because of the truth of God’s revelation…The teaching which anyone receives from revelation cannot be other than true. – If human beings with their intelligence fail to recognize God as Creator of all, it is…because their free will and their sinfulness place an impediment in the way.
To arrive at knowledge without a human teacher is not for everyone, but the privilege of a few. Though the Lord himself chose to teach Saint Paul and Saint Francis, it is his will that disciples be taught by human teachers. – In her motherly concern, the Blessed Virgin came to Fatima to ask men and women to ‘stop offending God, our Lord, who is already very offended’. It is a mother’s sorrow that compels her to speak; the destiny of her children is at stake.
He taught what he had learned without guile…That is to say, as ardent love brought me to learn without guile, so it moves me to share without jealousy or grudging envy what I have learned. – The Holy Spirit…takes from Christ and transmits to all, unceasingly entering into the history of the world through the heart of man.
He learned with such diligence that he became teacher of many disciples whom he taught to think of the Lord with uprightness and seek him with sincerity of heart, because he is found by those who do not put him to the test, and manifests himself to those who do not distrust him. – Justice will never be fully attained unless people see in the poor person … not an annoyance or a burden, but an opportunity for showing kindness and a chance for greater enrichment.
He taught what he learned without forgetting it, because he put it into practice…and because of that he was an excellent teacher … He did not acquire his knowledge by reflecting in general terms on a limited number of truths, but by individual experience over a wide range of life – The true Christian can nurture a trustful optimism, because he is certain of not walking alone.
Saint Francis learned…by experiencing sufferings not joys…At the outset of his conversion Saint Francis experienced derision, beatings, fetters, imprisonment, destitution, nakedness, and adversity. – In sending us Jesus, the eternal Son made man, God has drawn near to each of us.
He taught what he had learned without doubting because of the trustworthy signs he was given…and so like the Apostle (Paul) he went forth and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with him and confirmed the message by the signs that attended it. – In Christ (God) has become our traveling companion.
It pleased the Lord to endorse and confirm the teaching and Rule of St. Francis, not only by miraculous signs, but also by the marks of his own stigmata, so that no true believer could possibly call them into question on external or internal evidence. – Wherever people are praying in the world, there the Holy Spirit is, the living breath of prayer.
It pleased God in his goodness to affix his own seal to the Rule and teaching of Saint Francis…God revealed to him the entire Rule…Christ, having recognized the teaching of Saint Francis as his own, affixed the seal of his stigmata to his body, and thereby irrevocably confirmed his teaching. – Man cannot live without hope.
His teaching could not have had its lasting character, in the eyes of others, from Saint Francis himself, for he was an uneducated merchant and no learned doctor. Therefore, it was the Lord’s good pleasure to confirm it…so that none of the learned could dare despise his teaching and Rule as only the efforts of an uneducated man. – Christian hope ‘does not disappoint’, because it is based on the solid foundation of faith in the love of God revealed in Christ.
Anyone who doubts that the doctrine and Rule of Saint Francis are a more perfect way to reach eternal life, when these have been confirmed by such signs, must be exceedingly hard of heart. – Is not the enraptured gaze of Mary as she contemplated the face of the newborn Christ and cradled him in her arms that unparalleled model of love which should inspire us every time we receive Eucharistic Communion?
The whole world ought to give thanks to the Most High Creator for his sublime gift, that by the stigmata imprinted on Saint Francis, he deigned not only to reveal the way of truth, but to establish it in a wondrous way and for readily intelligible reasons. – Believers testify by their deeds that the good news is not limited to the proclamation of abstract truths, but becomes concrete in a charity that can take the form of struggling against the injustices found in the world.
If we raise our minds a little and consider the stigmata in terms of supernatural causes, we discover…This miracle was made necessary under the law of divine providence, for the needs of the church in this final age and because of Saint Francis’ eminent holiness. – May dialogue, solidarity, and love prevail over the many forms of pride and deceit.
The law of divine providence required it because God willed to make this cloth merchant a fisher of men, and the leader of those who imitate Christ perfectly. Therefore, he handed over to him his own ensign, namely, the marks of the Crucified Lord. – Put the defense of the basic rights of the human person above every other consideration.
At the beginning of the Church unbelief held sway…in these latter times, he bestowed the signs of goodness and mercy on Saint Francis to enkindle love, and what are the signs of consummate love except the marks of the passion which God chose to endure for us out of measureless love? – Friendship lived with the sensitivity of the gospel is an effective way of being Christian in the world.
This miracle was made necessary because of Saint Francis’ eminent holiness which found expression in his most fervent love of the Crucified Lord. For the sake of that love he so weakened his eyes by tears of compassion that he lost his sight. – Friendship becomes a reconciling force…needed in our time.
Such is the power of love, that it transforms the lover into the Beloved. Love of the Crucified Lord was supremely and gloriously aflame in his heart, and so the Crucified himself, in the form of the Seraph, and angelic spirit burning with the fire of love, appeared before his saintly eyes and imprinted the sacred stigmata on his body. – A productive and sure program of formation for joy is nourished and rests on assiduous prayer, frequent Communion, rediscovery of the use of the Sacraments of Reconciliation, daily and familiar contact with the word of God, the fruitful exercise of fraternal charity and service; and then devotion to Our Lady, the model and true cause of our joy.
Because Saint Francis set Christ crucified as a seal upon his arm, the precious gems of the stigmata of Jesus Christ appeared visibly on his body. – Christ…became man to reveal the eternal love of the Creator and Father and to make known the dignity of each one of us.
Let no one begrudge God’s generosity, but let everyone listen to and learn the teaching of Christ, indeed, of Saint Francis, that good teacher who taught others what he had learned without error, without guile, without forgetfulness, and without doubting. – Whenever violence is done in the name of religion…make it clear…we are not dealing with true religion. For the Almighty cannot tolerate the destruction of his own image in his children.
Saint Francis, therefore, can rightly say: Learn from me, to encourage others, and equally, for I am meek and humble of heart, to impress them. – Remembering that the Son of God became man, we must become conscious of how great each one of us has become because of this mystery! (Give thanks to Mary for saying ‘Yes’ to the Father)
St. Katherine Drexel Regional Fraternity
Regional Spiritual Assistant
St. Francis of Assis Friary
1901 Prior Road
Wilmington, Delaware 19809
tel: (302) 798-1454 fax: (302) 798-3360 email: email@example.com
Dear Sisters and Brothers in St. Francis,
The Lord grant you His Peace, the Life-giving Gift of the Holy Spirit
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.
This prayer of our Seraphic Father St. Francis of Assisi tells us so much of St. Francis’ love for Mary and his awareness of Her place in the mystery of our salvation. His love for Her was undeniable. Francis saw our Heavenly Mother Mary and Her greatness always in relationship to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and, because of that, to the Church.
This year, the month of May is saturated with celebrations of basic beliefs of our faith: Incarnation brought to fulfillment and glorification in the Ascension, Trinity, Eucharist, Holy Spirit and the Church.
– The Incarnation of the Word is the beginning of the crowning point of our human nature raised up by Jesus and glorified in His Ascension.
– The Coming of the Holy Spirit heralds the beginning of the Church and the Proclamation of the Gospel to all the world.
– The Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity celebrates God – The Father creates; the Son, Incarnate Word, redeems; and the Holy Spirit continues the action of sanctification down through the ages.
– The Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ acclaims the wonderful mystery of the continued presence and re- presentation of the Mystery of our Redemption when we were saved in the Blood of Christ (Hebrews 10: 19). A happy coincidence this year has all these occurrences during the month dedicated to Our Blessed Mother Mary, a gentle reminder of the eminent role that She plays in the mystery and history of our salvation. True devotion to Mary, our Mother and Queen, whose Immaculate Heart envelops all Her children with tender loving care, always leads to a greater love and trust in God.
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 has 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, things would be drastically different. If we would 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).
Obviously, we cannot do this physically, but, with the eyes of a Faith convinced and committed, we can experience the same zeal and enthusiasm of the first followers. The Holy Spirit that descended on them 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 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.
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 of 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 becomes, in the words of our Seraphic Father St. Francis, the Virgin made Church. It is the Church that perpetuates the living presence of the Savior, especially in the great gift of the Eucharist, the living Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of the Savior. The Church continues, with Mary, to offer Her Son – our Brother, Lord, Savior, Word Incarnate – 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.
We are that Mystical Body of Christ of Whom Mary is the Channel of Graces. Her ‘yes’ acceded to the Father’s Will and She became Mother of the Word Incarnate, Whose redeeming Passion-Death-Resurrection offers the limitless gifts of God’s graces to Humanity. Thus, through Mary we have easier access to Christ, and through Her we are facilitated in receiving immense graces and gifts from the Father, through the Son in the Holy Spirit. She truly is an Avenue of Graces, Whose almighty intercession pleads to the Father on behalf of Her children born from the open side of Her Son.
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. 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 (Office of the Passion by St. Francis of Assisi). Her intimate relationship with the Triune God enables Her to be our most powerful Advocate in heaven.
Mary stands out as first among the followers of Jesus and one who precedes all others in Faith.
– The Marriage Feast at Cana signals the moment when the first followers of Jesus recognized His works and believed in Him. Mary precedes the Faith of those first disciples when She presents the embarrassing situation of the young newly- weds to Jesus. She knows in Faith that He can and will resolve the dilemma …
– Mary goes with the disciples to Capernaum and becomes an integral part of the newly-forming Faith community of disciples. She becomes the living link between Jesus and the disciples …
– Mary stands at the foot of the Cross offering Her Son to the Father. She consents with a mother’s love to all the Father is asking of Her Son, and also of Her. Mary believes beyond the torture and death of Her Son in the New Covenant He came to establish in His Blood for all humanity with the Father. Mary’s compassion of a Mother’s love sharing in the suffering of Her Son is the ultimate sign of the depth of Her love for all humanity.
– Mary is with the first followers awaiting with surety the promised Paraclete. Her presence strengthens and urges them in confident faith-filled expectation.
In these pivotal moments when challenges are presented to the followers and responses are made, it is interesting to note that Mary, the Mother of Jesus, is present offering Her response rooted in a convinced and committed Faith – Lord, In all things ‘Yes’! Here I am, I come to do Your Will! (Hebrews 10: 19)
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, 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 her example. We must make every effort, like many elect souls, to follow this Blessed Mother, to walk close to Her since there is no other path leading to life except the path followed by Her. We cannot afford to refuse to take this path that undeniably leads to Life. We must unite with this dear Mother of ours. With Her, close to Jesus, we can proceed confidently through life in the midst of whatever we must bear, to its fullness in heaven.
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 Blessed Mother Who stands to intercede for us at every moment. Mary’s life was one continual ‘yes’ to God. The joys, sorrows, hardships, and whatever else life dispensed to Her, were always gratefully received with the same ‘yes’ that allowed God to be enfleshed in our life that we mighty share His eternal Life. With Mary, close to Jesus, let us go … Let us do the same as our Mother Mary!
May God bless you; Our Lady guide, guard, and protect you; and 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, OFM Cap
Regional Spiritual Assistant
Our Father most holy: Our Creator, Redeemer, Consoler, and Savior…
You, Lord, are Supreme Good, the eternal Good, from Whom all good comes…
Holy be your Name…That You may rule in us through Your grace…
Your will be done…that we may love You…with our whole heart…soul…and mind…
Give us this day…Your own beloved Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.
Forgive us…through Your ineffable mercy…and make us, Lord, forgive completely.
And lead us not into temptation. But deliver us from evil.
Following are daily excerpts taken from various Franciscan writings
Daily meditative phrases from Praying Scripture in a Contemporary Way
Once there was a great war between the citizens of Perugia and Assisi. Francis was captured … and …endured the squalor of prison. His fellow captives were overcome with sadness … but Francis rejoiced in the Lord. (2Celano,bk.1,chpt.1) – Anyone can stand up to an opponent: give me someone who can stand up to a friend.
Though staying in a pit and in darkness, he was imbued with an indescribable happiness never before experienced. (1 Celano,bk.1,chpt.5) – I may have all the faith needed to move mountains, but if I have no love, I am nothing.
He rose therefore swift, energetic and joyful, carrying the shield of faith for the Lord, and strengthened with the armor of great confidence, he set out for the city. (1Celano,bk.1,chpt.5) – We get no deeper into Christ than we allow him to get in us.
Though delighting for the most part (in his dream), he silently wondered to himself about its meaning…With a happy spirit he awoke the next morning…Considering his vision a prediction of great success… (1Celano,bk.1,chpt.2) – The Gospels do not explain Easter; Easter explains the Gospels.
When morning came, then, he returned in haste to Assisi, free of care and filled with joy, and, already made an exemplar of obedience, he awaited the Lord’s will. (Major Legend,chpt.1,#3) – The lives of Jesus’ followers changed the course of human history. No reasonable explanation has ever been given for their transformed lives except their own: they had see Jesus alive.
Saint Francis with his brothers rejoiced greatly at the task and the favor given by so great a father and lord. They gave thanks to Almighty God, who places the lowly on high and raises up mourners to health. (1Celano,bk.1,chpt.14) – That which you cannot let go of, you do not possess. It possesses you.
They had great joy, because they saw nothing and had nothing that could give them empty or carnal delight…Only divine consolation delighted them, having put aside all their cares about earthly things. (1Celano,bk.1,chpt.14) – One does not discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the shore.
This holy man insisted that spiritual joy was an infallible remedy against a thousand snares and tricks of the enemy. He used to say: ‘The devil is most delighted when he can steal the joy of spirit from a servant of God’…(2Celano,bk.2,chpt.88) – We can live forty days without food, eight minutes without air, but about one second without hope.
‘But if spiritual joy fills the heart, the serpent casts its poison in vain. The devils cannot harm a servant of Christ when they see him, filled with holy cheerfulness.’ (2Celano,bk.2,chpt.88) – Our job is not to do something for the Church, but to do something with it.
The saint therefore always strove to keep a joyful heart, to preserve the anointing of the spirit and the oil of gladness. He avoided very carefully the dangerous disease of melancholy, so that when he felt even a little of it slipping into his heart, he quickly rushed to prayer. (2Celano,bk.2,chpt.88) – No one ever made more trouble than the “gentle Jesus, meek and mild.”
O martyr, laughing and rejoicing, who endured so gladly what was bitter and painful for others to see! (1Celano,bk.2,chpt.7) – Sorrow looks back, worry looks around, faith looks up.
I see that (the devils) cannot harm me through myself. Indeed whenever I feel tempted and depressed and I look at the joy of my companion, because of that joy I immediately turn away from temptation and melancholy toward inner and outer joy. (Mirror Perfection, #96) – The person who isn’t busy being born is busy dying.
By a joyful face he understood the fervor and solicitude, the disposition and readiness of a mind and body to willingly undertake every good work; because through this kind of fervor and disposition others are motivated than through the good deed itself. (Mirror Perfection, #96) – We can’t understand the Holy Spirit, but we can understand the Spirit’s impact on our lives.
He did not want to see a gloomy face, which more often shows laziness, a closed mind, and a body listless for every good work. (Mirror of Perfection,#96) – I cannot change the whole world, but I can change a small part if it…myself.
It is not right for a servant of God to show himself to others sad and upset, but always pleasant. Deal with your offenses in your room, and weep and moan before your God. (2Celano,bk.2,chpt.91) – God is already in our lives. Our business is to recognize this.
Wherever the brothers may be and in whatever place they meet they should respect spiritually and attentively one another, and honor one another without complaining. Let them be careful not to appear outwardly as sad and gloomy but show themselves joyful, cheerful and consistently gracious in the Lord. (Earlier Rule,#7) – Blessed are they who place themselves in the hands of Jesus. He will place himself in their hands.
They (the brothers) walked with joy wherever they went, speaking among themselves about the words of the Lord, and saying nothing among themselves which did not serve the glory and praise of God, and the good of the soul. (Three Companions,chpt.12) – What we usually pray to God is not that his will be done, but that he approve ours.
When they laughed, they were filled with happiness and spiritual joy, so that they no longer remembered the adversities they experienced. (Anonymous of Perugia,chpt.6) – How else but through a broken heart may the Lord Christ enter in?
Whether ill or in good health they (the brothers) were always joyful and patient. (Anonymous of Perugia,chpt.6) – Only when we learn to see the invisible, will we learn to do the impossible.
They were always joyful in the Lord, having nothing within them or among them that could in some way bring them sadness. (Three Companions,chpt.11) – The effect of our sharing in the body and blood of Christ is to change us into what we receive.
Blessed is that religious who has no pleasure and joy except in the most holy words and deeds of the Lord and, with these, leads people to the love of God with gladness and joy. (Admonitions,#20) – Nature does not know extinction. All it knows is transformation.
He himself felt great joy in the Lord when he heard the words of Sacred Scripture. (Legend of Perugia,#38) – Often the “god” that people reject is not the true God, but a mistaken notion of God that exists only in their minds.
If a servant of God always strives to have and preserve internally and externally the spiritual joy that proceeds from purity of heart and is acquired through the devotion of prayer, the evils could do him no harm. (Mirror of Perfection,#95) – Lord, help us to deal with ugly situations in a beautiful way.
Because spiritual joy springs from integrity of heart and the purity of constant prayer, it must be your primary concern to acquire and preserve these two virtues, to possess internal, as well as external joy. (Mirror of Perfection,#95) – To be ignorant of the scriptures is to be ignorant of Christ.
Whenever he used to say your name, O holy Lord, he was moved in a way beyond human understanding. He was so wholly taken up in joy, filled with pure delight, that he truly seemed a new person of another age. (1Celano,chpt.29) – Jesus came not to eradicate suffering, but to fill it with his presence.
Sometimes he used to do this: a sweet melody of the spirit bubbling up inside him would become a French tune on the outside; the thread of a divine whisper which his ears heard secretly would break out in French song of joy. (2Celano,bk.2,chpt.89) – The old law about “an eye for an eye” leaves everybody blind.
(The thieves) beat him and threw him into a ditch filled with snow, saying, ‘Lie there, you stupid herald of God!’… He jumped out of the ditch, and exhilarated with a great joy, he began in an even louder voice to make the woods resound with praises to the Creator of all. (Major Legend,.chpt.2) – The living Christ still has two hands, one to point the way, and the other held out to help us along the way.
Where there is poverty with joy, there is neither greed nor avarice. (Admonitions,#27) – If Christ were standing before me now, what would I feel, not about him, but about myself?
(Saint Francis dying, said to Brother Elias) ‘Allow me to rejoice in the Lord, Brother, and to sing His praises in my infirmities, because, by the grace of the Holy Spirit, I am so closely united and joined with my Lord, that, through His mercy, I can well rejoice in the Most High Himself.’ (Mirror of Perfection,#121) – The goal of religion is not to get us into heaven, but to get heaven into us.
(As Saint Francis lay dying the guardian) took the tunic with a cord and underwear, and offered them to the little poor man of Christ, saying: ‘I am lending these to you as to a poor man, and you are to keep them with the command of holy obedience. At this the holy man rejoiced and was delighted in the gladness of his heart, because he saw that he had kept faith until the end with Lady Poverty. (Major Legend,chpt.14) – You cannot have God for your Father, if you don’t have the Church for your mother.
Dear Sisters and Brothers in St. Francis,
The Lord give you His peace and lead you through the mystery of His Passion and Death to the joy of His Resurrection and our renewed Life in Jesus!
Our world has become more confusing than ever. Things we held dear are disrespected, contradicted, and at times even abused. Values that were the foundation of our lives are challenged, or totally disregarded. Faith and belief in a God Who is the source and destiny of all human beings is criticized as old-fashioned or ridiculous to ‘enlightened people’. We sense a subtle persecution of all that we spiritually value and that makes our lives meaningful. Sometimes the subtlety gives way to outright contradictory and derogatory statements by individuals seeking to denigrate and render foolish what has been the foundation of the lives of all believers, even those not of the Catholic tradition. Times never change! The Resurrection and what flows from that historical event and truth has always been a target of those who understand what belief in that great Mystery involves, and what belief in the Paschal Mystery of the Passion-Death-Resurrection of Christ can effect in our world through those who accept the mystery and surrender wholeheartedly to it!
Belief in the Resurrection of Jesus is itself a gift of Faith. The Resurrection confirms our belief in the Lord Jesus and all He said and did, and all He is able to continue to be and do for us. The Resurrection is also the moment that challenges us to believe the Lord Jesus, Who is the Christ and Incarnate Son of God, by living without hesitation as He told His disciples to live. One Who rises from the dead merits – to say the extreme least – our undivided attention and unconditional surrender through life. Why would anyone, who has heard of and accepted the truth of the Resurrection of Jesus, refuse to allow the Holy Spirit of God, first Gift of the Resurrection, to lead them to believe the Good News and live accordingly?!
We should not be harsh, however, on those who are still searching nor on those who want to believe but are still cautious because reason is still blocking where faith would go beyond. How did our sisters and brothers in the Faith, the original followers, act on the day of the Resurrection, some even after their companions spoke to them of having seen the Risen Lord and Savior?
– Thomas … one of the Twelve … said to (the Apostles), ‘Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger into the nail marks and put my hand into his side, I will not believe’ (John 21:24-25) … Pessimism and Disbelief
– The two disciples, speaking with Jesus whom they did not recognize as they journeyed on the road back to Emmaus from Jerusalem, said: We were hoping that he would be the one to redeem Israel … Some women from our group … reported that indeed they had seen a vision of angels … but him they did not see (Luke 24: 13-25) … Disillusionment and Discouragement
– When Mary of Magdala told the disciples she had seen the Risen Lord and that he was alive and had been seen by her, they did not believe (Mark 16:11) … Cynicism and Skepticism
– Even when the disciples followed the command to go to Galilee where they would see Him before He ascended to the Father, When they saw Him, they worshiped, but they doubted (Matthew 28:16-17) … Hesitancy and Doubt
Thomas, Cleophas and his traveling companion, the Apostles after hearing Mary Magdalene, and many of the followers who saw Him on the Mount in Galilee at the Ascension, all had difficulties and even understandable doubts concerning the ‘impossibility’ of a person rising from the dead … on his own power! We believe today after the two thousand-year-old event, and after centuries of witnessing the truth by those who believed before us, and some who even gave their lives rather than deny the Risen Lord. The power of the Holy Spirit had to shake them free to see and believe. They loved and believed Jesus, but it took an eternal power and a ‘real presence’ to lead them into the light of a new Life, rooted in a Person Who overcame execution on a cross and was alive. The death of Jesus sealed the Covenant God made with humanity; and humanity, in Christ, consumated the covenant, fulfilled the prophecies, and set free all who accepted the Gospel Message: God so loved the world that He sent His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him might … have eternal life. For God did not send his Son … to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him (John 3: 16-17). The Resurrection was, and is for many, hard to accept. The condemnation and death sentence of Jesus inflicted a mortal wound on the hearts of His followers, and on those still seeking to understand and believe today. Their hearts and minds cannot as yet make the ‘quantum leap’ of faith into the certitude of the ways of God. Jesus had prepared the disciples for this momentous experience, and many today have heard the story but they could not and cannot fully understand and accept. Why?… because His ways are not (our) ways, Whose thoughts are not (our) thoughts.
Suffering and pain are real! We experience them often in life. The lives of some persons are in continual suffering and deep in pain, whether spiritual, physical, psychological. Unless faith takes over and hope is kindled within our hearts, the love of God that conquers all things is the deepest desire of the heart but the furthest sensation we feel. Serenity and inner peace become just pious words and deep desires. We hear words of encouragement, but are overwhelmed by our own broken body and tired spirit. Even our Seraphic Father through moments like this, and so did/do his spiritual children. The human condition is common to all the children of God, saint and sinner alike.
The Passion and Death of Jesus speaks to us of the extravagant and limitless love and mercy of God for all humanity. The Resurrection of Jesus gives meaning and encouragement to life. The Eucharist is the Real Presence of the Glorified and Risen Lord Who journeys with us at every moment. It re-presents the whole Paschal Mystery and offers us the opportunity to be with the Risen Lord, Whose Sacrifice we enter, celebrate, and with Whom we seek to become one in Holy Communion. The presence of Jesus transforms lives. His bodily presence on earth centuries ago gave Him the opportunity to raise people from the dead, to heal the sick, to give hope to the downtrodden and outcast, to reassure the marginalized, to care for the various needs of those whom He encountered. His sacramental presence raises and heals souls dead and/or weak through sin, speaks to the depths of the heart of those who spend silent time with Him, and strengthens us with the grace of His Body and Blood to accept the demands that life places upon us with the realization that we are not alone but live and move and have our being (Acts 17: 28) with the Giver of all good gifts Who walks and works with and within us. His ‘Presence’ is truly ‘Real’. His is a ‘tangible presence’ that makes Himself felt according to our willingness to see with the eyes of the heart and not the eyes of the head alone.
The sacred event of Christ’s Passion-Death-Resurrection we celebrate at this season encourages us always to believe that Jesus loves us, is with us, and will always be with us, particularly in the great Mystery of the Eucharist and the celebration of the Mass. Jesus, the Victim-once-again has placed himself quietly on the altar, just as Isaac was placed on the wood by Abraham. The priest, like Abraham our Father in faith, prepares to immolate the Victim … but where is the fire ready to consume the sacrifice? The fire is the love we bring, the love we carry within us. Jesus enkindled this fire long ago in our hearts. It is a “fire” that consumes us so that nothing remains but Him in-with-through us. We place our souls on the altar of sacrifice with the Paschal Mystery of Christ Jesus and become one with Him. All we have to do is say “yes” and allow the Spirit of God to take over. The open wound in the side of Christ invites us to enter in and experience the loving embrace of the Father and the gift of His Holy Spirit. The first Gift of Easter is the continued participating presence in our life with His that fulfills each moment. We enter gradually and more deeply the reality of a Presence that can transform the world as it transforms and consumes us with Love and Mercy.
At times our Seraphic Father’s transports of sentiment may have made him seem like a person overwhelmed. He endured this experience of God being “so real” to him that the mere thought of Him made Francis weep, sing, go into ecstatic states. St. Francis of Assisi was a Eucharistic soul who found the power to rekindle his strength continually offering himself with Jesus – ‘victim with the Victim’. The Eucharist for Francis is the Living Christ, so powerfully imaged as such on the Crucifix of San Damiano, that challenged him at the beginning of his conversion. The Poverello was in love with Jesus, Who was so real to him in the Eucharist. The joy of the Mystery re-presented at Mass or re-kindled in the heart at prayer made Jesus always come alive for St. Francis. As he saw Christ present in mystery in the Eucharist, and received Him in Holy Communion, our Seraphic Father was able to recognize and serve Him in people, especially the marginalized, alienated, ostracized, and so on, of society. No one can emphasize enough how essential the Eucharist was to St. Francis and all he was able to allow God to accomplish through him … and how essential it is to all of us .. or should be for those who seek to live the Gospel after the example of St. Francis of Assisi!
Before He entered His Passion, Jesus, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end: and while they were at supper, He took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying: ‘Take this all of you and eat of it, For this is My Body’ … In a similar way, taking the chalice filled with the fruit of the vine, He gave thanks, and gave it to his disciples, saying: ‘Take this all of you and eat of it, for this is the chalice of My Blood’ … (Fourth Eucharistic Prayer) The Eucharist was a decisive moment in His relationship with the disciples, and it was the last gift before His redeeming death that He left His disciples to continue, Do this in memory of Me (Luke 22: 19; 1 Corinthians 11: 24). The Eucharist is the Easter Gift as well as the Easter Mystery. The Mystery of the Passion-Death-Resurrection of Our Lord is the heart of the Church and the “Heavenly Manna”, Who nourishes and nurtures the Holy People of God – His Church – on journey through time toward eternity.
As Spiritual Children of the Seraphic St. Father of Assisi, we pray to him, speak about him, want to know more about him. The greatest form of admiration is imitation. Do we imitate the love of our Father Francis for the Eucharist? Do we acknowledge the Eucharist not just as the re-presentation of the Passion-Death-Resurrection of Jesus, but that His glorified person is truly present among us and thus should be a source of peace, joy, and love?! Most of us are not called to the unique external signs of those particularly called by God as St. Francis and the Sacred Stigmata, nevertheless, when the Eucharist is truly the center of our hearts and lives, we share, in our ordinary lives, the graces of the saints themselves. Among all the other prayerful devotions, the Eucharist is not so much a ‘prayer’ as a ‘participation’ in the intimate life of God through Jesus in the Holy Spirit. The Eucharist is the goal to which we arrive each day, as well as the starting point from which we all find strength and direction to live the will of God at every moment. The mystery of the Resurrection is a pledge of the glory we are called to share one day. When we cannot participate at Mass, at the very least, take time to reflect on the readings for the day and sincerely and lovingly make an act of Spiritual Communion. Strive to lovingly enter a living relationship with Jesus in the Eucharist. This awe-filled Sacrament binds us together in the great family of the Catholic Church and in our own particular Franciscan Family. Thus we proclaim the Resurrection and the power of its grace not by what we necessarily say, but by how we live the Eucharist and allow it(Him) to affect our lives.
May the light of Christ’s Resurrection shine in us that we might have life, and have it in abundance (John 10: 10). May the Risen Lord Jesus shower us and our loved ones with peace, joy, and abundant blessings for a Happy Easter; may Mary, Mother of the Redeemer and our Mother, help us to live with Jesus in the light of the New Life His Resurrection offers us; and may our Seraphic Father St. Francis of Assisi watch over each one of us, his Spiritual Children, with loving care. Blessed and Joyous Easter to you and your loved ones.
Christ is Risen! He is truly risen! Alleluia!
Peace and Blessings
Fr. Francis A. Sariego, O.F.M. Cap.
Regional Spiritual Assistant
My dear Brothers and Sisters, peace and Easter joy! This is my first post as the elected Regional Minister. Thank you for your confidence in my ability to be your servant for the next three years. It is not easy to follow our Sister, Mattie Ward, OFS, who has served for the last 9 years as Regional Minister. I cannot follow in her footsteps, I can only bring my own footsteps to the job. I’m sure I will make mistakes, I’m sure I will falter, but I am also sure I will do my very best to be here for you and be available whenever a need arises.
At this moment, the next three years is a blank slate. The Regional Executive Coucil will be meeting soon to discuss plans and ideas. Our Sister, Rose Viragh, OFS, Regional Formation Director, has already started to put together a Formation Directors’ Workshop that will be scheduled for the coming year.
When the brand new Regional Executive Council met shortly after the elections, there was an agreement that we will work to strengthen the relationships in each District. We need to learn from each other……what is your fraternity doing that another fraternity can adopt? What can we accomplish together? How can we serve each other and the communities around us? Each one of us is a part of this Region and together we can make a difference whether it is to one person, one neighborhood, one opportunity that St. Francis is bringing before us.
Whatever the next three years bring, I promise you that with the help of God, I will do what is mine to do.
The Lord’s choicest blessings!
Brothers and Sisters, May the peace of the Risen Christ be with you all!
Moving forward as Regional Formation Director it is my privilege to serve you once again. I will continue to visit fraternities and ask that if you have any suggestions I am available for you. For instance, if you would like me to prepare Ongoing formation when I visit, I can do that or simply walk you through the phases of formation.
I was speaking to someone who finds it difficult using all the information in the grid going across the page. You are only to pick the most recommended text which is the Franciscan Journey or those mentioned in the Regional formation handbook which are from pages 177 to 183. In each lesson, you should include the Rule, Scripture, writing of Francis and Clare, and at times the Papal encyclicals. The Franciscan Journey book is also set up where you have reading suggestions above your questions at the end of the chapters. If time allows, you can then select some of the suggestions and the supplements in the FUN manual as well. As local Formation Director some of my lessons are from 11/2 to 21/2 hours.
At some point this year, there will be a workshop for formators. What we hope to do is have the same workshop in two different areas so that all Formation Directors will be able to attend one or the other. The dates will be announced later.
I have heard from some fraternities and hope that you will come with suggestions. This is a learning time for all. We do not teach we learn, form, but above all serve.
Pax et bonum,
Secular Franciscans from all corners of the SKD Region gathered at the beautiful St. Francis Retreat House in Easton for a Chapter of Election. After much prayerful preparation and with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, representatives from the local fraternities and the regional leadership elected a new Regional Executive Council:
- Minister: Kate Kleinert, OFS
- Vice Minister: Gretchen Bienkowski, OFS
- Formation Director: Rose Viragh, OFS
- Secretary: Frank Urso, OFS
- Treasurer: Stephanie Wiecer, OFS
- Councillor at Large: Lee Potts, OFS
- Councillor at Large: Ted Bienkowski, OFS
Our Spiritual Assistants Bro. Larry Hilferty, TOR and Fr. Francis Sariego, OFM Cap. automatically continue as members of the Regional Executive Council.
Many thanks to NAFRA Executive Council representative Mary Stronach, OFS who oversaw and lead the actual election process and to our beloved Brother Larry for serving as Ecclesiastical Witness and for providing his thoughts about Franciscan leadership.
Thanks, also, to the outgoing Committee members for their years of leadership and hard work: Mattie Ward, OFS; Madge Peroni, OFS; Kathy Agosto, OFS; and David Misilewich, OFS. Your many contributions are greatly appreciate.
Please be sure to hold the members of the new Executive Council in prayer, especially as they begin their three-year term of service to every member of the Region and to Order in general.
everlasting, just and good,
of ourselves we are nothing but poverty;
but grant, for your own sake,
that we may do what we know is your will,
and always desire what is pleasing to you…
(Conclusion of the Letter to the Entire Order)
Following are daily excerpts taken from various Franciscan writings; Daily meditative phrases from various sources
His sermons were not vain and shallow but they were filled with them power of the holy Spirit (Major Legend,chpt.2) – God’s mercy, if we only let him take over, will take us much farther and higher than our own scant justice.
He began to preach all over with great commitment and assurance. He did not have recourse to reasoning founded on human wisdom, but based his teachings on the doctrine and virtue of the Holy Spirit, faithfully proclaiming the kingdom of God (Three Companions,chpt.54) – God’s predilection for the humblest and lowest emphasizes the point that he likes to make of upsetting men’s calculations and betraying expectations based on rank, merit, age or tradition.
His style was not as one preaching but as one who is conversing…he spoke clearly and respectably (Thomas of Spalato) – Self-reliance will get us nowhere…the whole process is better looked after when placed in he hands of God than when held tight in our grip as though we were bent on seeing it through at all costs by ourselves.
His words were like and ardent fire that penetrated the depths of the heart and filled the mind with admiration; … (his preaching) had the aroma and essence of divine revelation (Major Legend,chpt.12) – The fact that we fall is not important, but the hopeful effect of the fall to make us turn to God…is such a necessary lesson that it outweighs the fall and soothes the hurt.
He always used simple and very practical examples when preaching to the uneducated people, for he realized that virtue is more important than (stylish) words (Major Legen,chpt.12) – When faith joins hands with reason, their union bears the happiest fruits of spiritual understanding and heavenly wisdom; but the way to that union is paved with difficulties.
When proclaiming the word of the Lord before thousands of people, he was calm and confident, as though he were speaking with his brother and companion (2Celano,chpt.107) – Human weaknesses do not hinder God’s work in the soul, while human pride does.
From the purity of his heart he acquired the self-assurance of his words; even when he was unexpectedly invited to preach, he spoke marvelous things that had not been heard before (2Celano,chpt.107) – Pray in faith and you will obtain all you need…Jesus never disappoints.
He did not offer excuses for those living sinful lives, but he chastised them firmly, having himself practiced what he was now asking others to do (1Celano,chpt.36) – Faith is the greatest power on earth, and prayer its exercise.
He was speaking with such fire of spirit that he could not contain himself for joy. As he brought forth the word from his mouth, he moved his feet as if dancing, not playfully, but burning with then fire of divine love, not provoking laughter but moving them to tears of sorrow. (1Celano,chpt.27) – Petitionary prayer increases faith…Grow in faith by practicing prayer; and practice prayer by asking God for what you need…
Let no brother preach contrary to the rite and practice of the Church or without the permission of his minister. Let the minister be careful of granting it without discernment to anyone. (Earlier Rule,chpt.17) – It is not easy to ask, because petition is submission, is dependence, is humility and is commitment.
Let all the brother, however, preach by their deeds. No minister or preacher may make a ministry of the brothers or the office of preaching his own, but, when he is told, let him set it aside without objection. (Earlier Rule,chpt.17) – To pray is to anticipate the parousia, i.e. May the Kingdom come today in token and in sign, so that it may come one day in its fullness.
I admonish and exhort those brothers that when they preach their language be well-considered and chaste for the benefit and edification of them people, announcing to them vices and virtues, punishment and glory, with brevity, because our Lord when on earth kept his word brief. (Later Rule,chpt.9) – The danger of prayer is that we very correctly pray for ‘the right things’, with no desire to receive them.
He wanted ministers of the word of God to be intent on spiritual study and not hindered by other duties. He said that these men were heralds chosen by a great king to deliver to the people the decrees received from his mouth. (2Celano,chpt.122) – Prayer, when made with sincerity, brings us face to face with God and makes us deal with him person to person..
The preacher must first secretly draw in by prayer what he later pours 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) – When we have some years behind us and look back on life, and come to realize how wise God was in not granting some of our prayers, we may even thank Him for not giving us what we did not know for what we were asking.
We should honor and revere all theologians and those who minister to us the words of God, as those who minister to us ‘spirit and life’. (2Celano,chpt.122) – Our view of things is of necessity short, biased and selfish, and we grab impatiently the quick relief when the true benefit would be the long endurance.
He…directed himself to invoke the grace of the Holy Spirit. Suddenly he began to overflow with such effective eloquence and to move the minds of the high-ranking men to compunction with such force and power that it was clearly evident it was not he, but the Spirit of the Lord who was speaking. (Major Legend,chpt.12) – God can well answer a prayer for escape with a grace to endure. Instead of removing the trial, God grants the strength to, go through it.
In the presence of the Cardinal, Francis addressed himself to the brothers and said: ‘Christ…has told me: ‘I want you…by word and work to preach the folly of the cross’. (Angelo Clareno) – ‘Lord, give me what is best for me’…can you pray this without conditions or hesitating?
We are mothers when we carry Him in our heart and body through a divine love and a pure and sincere conscience and give birth to Him through a holy activity which must shine as an example before others. (Letter to the Faithful,chpt.1) – The courage to pray in the face of rejection brings us close to Jesus himself in the deepest moment of his life.
A person is as learned as his actions show; and a religious is only as good a preacher as his actions show; for a good tree is known only by its fruit. (Mirror of Perfection,chpt.1,#4) – Every unanswered prayer is Gethsemane.
As you announce peace with your mouth, make sure that greater peace is in your hearts. Let non one be provoked to anger or scandal through you, but may everyone be drawn to peace, kindness, and harmony through your gentleness. For we have been called to this: to heal the wounded, bind up the broken, and recall the erring…(Three Companions,chpt.14) – Faith has to be tried in order to be itself, and the greatest trial for the believer is to feel abandoned by God.
A preacher must be wept over, as over someone without real piety, who in preaching seeks not the salvation of souls, but his own praise, or who destroys with the depravation of his life what he builds up with the truth of teaching. (Major Legend,chpt.8) – Suffering is not a problem to be discussed, but a reality, dark and painful though it is, to be lived.
The lord Pope confirmed their Rule and authorized them to preach in whatever church they so desired, after, out of respect and reverence, they requested permission from the prelate of the place. (Jacques de Vitry) – Life, whatever it is, is a test, and our reactions to its vicissitudes mark the path to our future, whatever again that may be.
He (Pope Innocent III) granted what was asked and promised even more. He approved the rule, gave them a mandate to preach penance, and had small tonsures given to all the lay brothers, who were accompanying the servant of God, so that they could freely preach the word of God (Major Legend,chpt.3) – The one redeeming trait of suffering is that it helps to bring out love.
The brothers must not have large churches built in order to preach to the people or for any other reason, for there is greater humility and better example when they go to other churches to preach.(Mirror of Perfection,chpt.1,#10) – God has come to do what he could not do in his heaven: to suffer with man. The cross of Christ is the meeting point of suffering humanity.
On Sundays and Feast Days, they leave their small dwellings and go to preach the word of life in the parish churches. (Roger of Wendover) – The infiniteness of God in the concreteness of a man, a few years that span eternity, a limited presence that fills creation…is Jesus!
The prelates of the church saw these documents (Papal documents approving the Order and the brothers’ preaching) and having verified their authenticity, generously permitted the brothers to build, live and preach in their dioceses.(Three Companions) – If the Son of Man can make the Father present, so can we, in our smallness and poverty, reflect his glory till he comes.
He 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, 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 of Perfection,chpt.3,#73) – We are signs in the Sign.
The blessed father knew through the Holy Spirit and even repeated it many times to the brothers, that many brothers, under pretext of edifying others, would abandon their vocation, that is, holy humility, pure simplicity, prayer, devotion, and our Lady Poverty…because they will think themselves to be more imbued and filled with devotion…and enlightened by knowledge of God because of their understanding of the Scriptures. (Mirror of Perfection,chpt..3,#72) – Faith is the capacity to be disturbed, to let God into one’s life, to cope with the unusual and to be surprised into glory.
He felt deeply sorry for those preachers who often sell what they do for the price of some empty praise. (2Celano,chpt.123) – Faith, in turn, is the capacity to disturb others, not in the obnoxious pride of inconsiderate manners, but in the humble role of carriers of faith…reflecting with delegated light the presence and the demands of the One Sign.
The preacher who rejoices over many as though they were born through his power will then discover that he has nothing of his own in them. (2Celano,chpt.123) – The path of God’s people across the desert into the promised land is marked by altars…remember the past in order to trust for the future.
He had little love for those who would rather be praised as orators than as preachers or for those who speak with elegance rather than feeling. He said that they divided things badly, putting everything in preaching and nothing in devotion. But he would praise that preacher who takes time to taste and eat a bit himself. (2Celano,chpt.123) – Remember, God does not do things by halves…God follows up what he begins…‘The Lord will accomplish his purpose for me. Your true love, O Lord, endures forever: do not leave unfinished the work of our hands’.