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

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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.

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June 9, 2024 - Blessed Sacrament Fraternity Chapter of Elections

Blessings of peace and all good!

On June 9, 2024, Jennifer Drees, OFS (Regional Formation Director) presided at the Chapter of Elections for Blessed Sacrament Fraternity in Whiting, NJ.  The ecclesial witness was Br. Noel Danielewicz, OFM Conv, the delegate for Fr. Francis Sariego, OFM Cap.

With great joy, we announce the next Executive Council for this fraternity for the next three years:

Minister Rose Viragh, OFS Returning
Vice-Minister Tiffany Menendez, OFS Returning
Secretary Mira Welnowska, OFS Returning
Treasurer Margaret Garvin, OFS Returning
Formation Director Maureen Fantauzzo, OFS Returning
Councilor-at-Large Theresa Langan, OFS Newly Elected
Councilor-at-Large Frank Wagner, OFS Newly Elected

Left to right: Br. Noel Danielewicz, OFM Conv (Ecclesial Witness); Tiffany Menendez, OFS (Vice-Minister); Margaret Garvin, OFS (Treasurer); Rose Viragh, OFS (Minister); Theresa Langan, OFS (Councilor-at-Large); Mira Welnowska, OFS (Secretary); Frank Wagner, OFS (Councilor-at-Large); Maureen Fantauzzo, OFS (Formation Director); and Jennifer Drees, OFS (SKD Regional Formation Director and Election Presider)

May God bless these willing and dedicated servant leaders with the Holy Spirit’s gifts to serve their fraternity and the Secular Franciscan Order with great courage and perseverance!  We thank the five members of this fraternity who have returned to Council to serve their brothers and sisters, and we welcome the two new councilors-at-large into their new responsibilities of animating and guiding their fraternity with devotion to the holy Gospel!

June 2024 – Monthly Spiritual Assistant Greeting (Fr. 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:

June 2024

Dear Sisters and Brothers in St. Francis,

The Lord give you His peace!

While Francis was still staying in (the palace of the Bishop), the most holy father was already assured of his imminent death, both by the Holy Spirit and the prognosis of the doctors. He felt himself growing steadily worse and his physical strength was waning. He had himself carried on a litter to Saint Mary of the Portiuncula, so that there the life of his body would come to an end where he had begun to experience the light and life of his soul. When those who were carrying him arrived at the hospital halfway between Assisi and Saint Mary, he asked those carrying the litter to place it on the ground. Since he could hardly see because of the serious and prolonged eye disease, he had the litter turned so that he would face the city of Assisi. Raising himself up slightly on the litter, he blessed the city.

“Lord, just as, at an earlier time, this ancient city was, I believe, the place and abode of wicked and evil men, now I realize that, because of Your abundant mercy and in Your own time, You have singularly shown an abundance of Your mercies to it. Solely on account of your goodness, you have chosen it for Yourself so that it may become the place and abode of those who, in truth, acknowledge You, give glory to Your name, exude the fragrance of a holy life, of the truest doctrine, of a good reputation, and of evangelical perfection to the whole Christian people. I ask you, therefore, Lord Jesus Christ, Father of mercies, not to consider our ingratitude. Be mindful of Your most abundant piety which You have shown to it, that it always be an abode for those who truly acknowledge You, and glorify Your name blessed and most glorious forever and ever. Amen.” (Mirror of Perfection, #124)

Francis prays these heartfelt words as he faces his birthplace knowing that he will never see it again on earth. Francis’ humanity was always, and still is, a striking sign of his holiness.  You are who you are before God and nothing more (words of St. Francis). We could add, “and nothing less than a child of God redeemed in the Blood of Jesus”. He acknowledges that the ancient city was the place of wicked and evil (M.P.#124) but that now You has shown an abundance of Your mercies to it (M.P.#124).

The beauty of our Franciscan charism (spirit) is very accessible and unattainable. It is so much a part of being human that it is called “incarnational”. We could say “earthy” or “human”.  Unfortunately, both words would be understood incorrectly and would diminish the more profound and positive meaning. The word “incarnational” is rooted in the reality of the body God created at the beginning of time and that God saw as very good (Genesis 1) and saw fit to become in the fullness of time (cfr. Galatians 4:4).  God creates all things to share in His eternal goodness and limitless being. Though infinitely less than God, we participate, body and soul, in His Spirit of Life that breathed all things into existence (cf. Genesis, 1:1). Thus, it follows that we are created inherently good, though prone to decisions that lead into what lacks goodness and thus leads into sin.

At that time, a certain priest of the city of Assisi, Sylvester by name, a man of honorable life, received of the Lord a vision not to be passed over in silence. In his finite judgment, he had looked askance at the manner of life of Francis and his Brethren, he was visited,—lest he should be imperiled by his rash verdict,—by the regard of the heavenly grace. For in a dream he beheld the whole city of Assisi beset by a great dragon, whose huge bulk seemed to threaten all the countryside with destruction. Then he saw a Cross of gold proceeding out of the mouth of Francis, the top whereof touched heaven, and its arms outstretched at the side seemed to reach unto the ends of the world, and at its glittering aspect that foul and loathly dragon was utterly put to flight. When this had been shown three times to him, he deemed it a divine portent, and related it in order unto the man of God and his Brethren; and no long time thereafter he left the world, and clave so constantly unto the footsteps of Christ as that his life in the Order rendered true the vision that he had received while yet in the world. (Legenda Major, chapter 3, par. 5, St .Bonaventure)

Evil is a reality that affects all creation. History and our lives are surrounded by the effects of evil every day, when more when less. Challenges can be good or bad. Why and how we respond or react usually determines the personal responsibility for the good or evil we choose. Though created in God’s goodness yet we are prone to sinful decisions as inheritors of Original Sin, Grace is compromised and often we distance ourselves spiritually from God by our sins. The struggle between good and evil is an ongoing reality. Original Sin brings about the disharmony of spirit and the sinful decisions we make that cry out for God’s forgiveness. The spiritual warfare being waged has been waged from the beginning of time. The reality of the battle is similar to the image brother Sylvester had during the life of our Seraphic Father. The image of the cross and the response made to its proclamation from the mouth of the Poverello, determine in the vision, what happens to the people of the city of Assisi.

 Sylvester was misled by his own bias. He already made his own conclusions about Francis without knowing the person of St. Francis well. Sylvester was a good man but who allowed his biases to control his judgement. This time the bias aimed at Francis. A basic thought of Sylvester could have been: “Why would a well-to-do young man, who had the world at his fingertips, live so foolishly?” Or there was also the dramatic moment most Assisians remembered when Francis stripped off all his clothes and laid them at the feet of his father declaring: Before I called you ‘father,’ but now I only have one Father who is in heaven. These were other moments as well that left indelible memories on the hearts and minds of the people.

 In saying he would no longer call Pietro Bernadone his “father” on earth, Francis entered into solidarity with all the children of the One who call God Our Father Who are in heaven (Matthew 6: 9-13; Luke 11: 2-4). His example and words became an invitation to some. Many, like Sylvester, thought he was an arrogant adolescent “grandstanding”. Through the vision, Sylvester began to see more clearly the simplicity, poverty, deep relationship with Christ Crucified of Francis. The conformity of Francis to Christ was reaching the moment when it is consummated (John 19: 3).  Sylvester too, like many others, was soon won-over to Francis.

In Sylvester’s vision the dragon is huge, terrifying, and encircles the city of Assisi. The dragon of the dream/vision is satan. Evil is always huge, even when one makes it seem small and insignificant “in order to rationalize it away”. Evil does not discriminate. Evil seeks anyone and everyone it can seduce and possess. This root of eternal darkness is intent on seducing others:  For the people of this world are more astute in dealing with their own kind than are the people of the light (Luke 16: 8). The people who struggle every day to be good often do not even recognize the “little things” that slowly creep in and overwhelm the unsuspecting. In the vision the dragon is surrounding Assisi, ready to devour it. Remember the words of St. Peter to the Churches: Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour (1 Peter 5: 8).

Although the dragon encircles the city, ready to devour Assisi, it seems impeded from being able to do so. Evil cannot overwhelm and overcome us unless we surrender and forget that: you belong to God, my dear children. You have already won a victory, because the Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world. (1 John 4:4).  The image of Assisi’s foremost citizen, Francis, stands his ground.  From his mouth emanates a golden Cross. The vertical beam comes from his mouth and reaches to the heavens – greater the one within the depths rising to the heavens. The horizontal beam of the cross envelopes the city. The dragon is incapable of hurting the city or its inhabitants in any way. It eventually leaves Assisi and its people in peace. Nevertheless the threat is always there when we let our guard down.

The Word of God directs its strength and power from the heart of Francis in faith, through the mouth of the Poverello in an active proclamation of faith in the grace of the Crucified. Thus, the people strengthened and instructed by God’s Word in the simplicity of Francis’ and his brothers’ manner of evangelizing overcome the lurking evil. What emanates from Francis’ mouth is the Word that comes from the depths of his heart. Francis has received, believed and is convinced of the saving power of the Word Incarnate and the Word spoken.  Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you. (Matthew 7: 7). The Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you  (John 14: 26). Don’t worry about how to respond or what to say. God will give you the right words at the right time. (Matthew 10: 19)

The golden virtue of prayer and intimacy with God reaches from earth to heaven. The golden beam of charity and fraternal love stretches its golden beams encircling all God’s children. The simplicity of the Word Francis preached with his humility and personal way of life, and the encouraging and empowering embrace the brothers lived as “universal brothers” to everyone, encouraged the people and lessened the insidiousness of satan and his power over them. The Cross of Christ and His words are the strength of our faith, conviction and relationship with God through Jesus in the Spirit. Openness to any and all people in whom we see Christ hidden and whom they see hidden in us, will always be a strength and sure sign of victory over “the dragon that encircles the city” of our heart.  We can never loosen our guard. The opponent is always stronger than we when we stand alone. The Lord must always be our Center.  We cannot afford to distance ourselves from the Lord ever.

When this vision was related to him, the man of God was not puffed up with the glorying of men, but recognizing the goodness of God in the favors shown him, he was more keenly incited to repel the craft of the ancient enemy, and to preach the glory of the Cross of Christ. And, while in a certain lonely place Francis was bitterly reflecting on the remembrance of past years. The joy of the Holy Spirit came upon him, and he was assured of the full remission of all his offences. Then, carried out of himself, and wholly wrapped into a marvelous light, the horizons of his mind were enlarged, and he clearly beheld the future story of himself and of his sons. Returning after this to the Brethren, he said Be consoled my dearest, and rejoice in the Lord, and be not sad for that ye be few in number, nor let my simplicity nor your own make you fear, for the Lord has verily shown me that God will cause us to wax into a great host, and will enlarge us in manifold wise with the grace of His blessing.  (Legenda Major, chpt.3, St. Bonaventure)

Indeed, we are also part of this vision of Sylvester. Here we are, called to play our part in the Theater of Redemption. And there’s always the “disruptor” or “heckler” – that ominous figure of the evil one – somewhere trying to foul us up and ruin the story. We can’t simply stand by and let things happen. With God’s grace we can control the outcome. The incident Sylvester saw in vision of St. Francis reminds us of the power of the Word and the strength of a willingness to open ourselves to others. Bear in mind that the profound connection between prayer and our times does not consist in a sterile condemnation of evil or regretting nostalgically a past that no longer exists.  Whether by vow or promise, recognizing our common origin as children of God strengthens our perspective of life. Today more than ever, our charism is to pray and become a living Gospel by “living Christ”. We find power in Jesus the Word and His words. The Eucharist is His Word sacramentally enfleshed in us. Thus it is no longer I who live but Christ lives in me (Galatians 2: 20) who confronts, confounds and conquers the enemy. The meeting point between hearing the Word and saving the world is our mission; it is the mission of the Church. We are the living stones who are the Church. We are the living Mystical Body of Christ. He continues to keep the evil one in His sites, and to face him empowering us with the strength of truth, mercy and love.  We can say where is your sting? where is your victory? But thanks be to God, Who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 15: 55-57)

May this month dedicated to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus keep us rooted in His Tremendous Love. May the Cross truly be our boast in the Lord and a sign of our victory over the “dragon who waits”. Through His Word that directs us and His Eucharist Who strengthens us daily, may we  be conformed ever more deeply to Christ.

May God bless us all; Our Lady and good St. Joseph guide, guard, and protect us; and our beloved Sts. Francis and Clare of Assisi watch over us with loving care.

Peace and Blessings

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

Regional Spiritual Assistant

June 2024-Monthly Spiritual Assistant Reflection (Fr. 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:

June 2024

O loving one

bear in mind your poor children for whom, without you, their one and only consolation,

there is little comfort… they still .. tearfully cry out to you:

O father,

place before Jesus Christ, son of the Most High Father, His sacred stigmata;

and show Him the signs of the cross on your hands, feet, and side,

that He may mercifully bare His own wounds to the Father,

and because of this the Father will ever show us in our anguish His tenderness.


Prayer to St. Francis from the End of the Second Book of the Life of St. Francis by Bl.Thomas of Celano

Random quotes from various sources



(taken from the Little Flowers of St. Francis)

1 – The fifth and last consideration regards certain visions and revelations and miracles God made known after the death of St. Francis, in confirmation of his most holy Stigmata, and for a declaration of the day and the hour when Christ gave them unto him. Concerning this, in the year of our Lord 1282 on the . . . day of the month of October, Friar Philip, Minister of Tuscany, at the commandment of Friar John Buonagrazia, Minister-General, in the name of holy obedience, asked Friar Matthew of Castiglione Aretino, a man of great devotion and sanctity, to tell what he knew concerning the day and the hour when the most holy Stigmata were imprinted by Christ on the body of St. Francis; because he heard that he had had a revelation about this matter. – Faithfulness in little things is a big thing.

2 – Whereupon Friar Matthew, compelled by holy obedience, answered him saying: “While I was in the community of Alvernia, last year in the month of May, I went one day to prayer in my cell, which is on the spot where it is believed that that seraphic vision took place. In my prayer I asked God most devoutly that He would reveal to some person the day and the hour and the place that the most holy Stigmata were imprinted upon the body of St. Francis; and, when I had continued in prayer the first watch, St. Francis appeared to me with very great radiance, and said unto me: ‘Son, for what are you praying to God?’ – There is nothing small in the service of God.

3 – And I said unto him: ‘Father, I pray for such and such a thing’. And he said unto me: ‘I am your Father Francis. Do you know me well?’ ‘Father,’ I said, ‘yes.’ Then he showed me the most holy Stigmata in his hands and feet and side, and said: ‘The time has come when God wills that that, which for a time the friars have not been curious to know, shall be made known  for His glory. – Accomplish the great task by a series of small acts.

4 – Know that He Who appeared unto me was not an angel, but was Jesus Christ, in the form of a Seraph, who, with his own hands, imprinted on my body these wounds, even as He received them in His body on the Cross. – Hope is the first thing to take some sort of action.

5 – And this is how it happened: On the day before the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, an angel came to me, and, in God’s name, told me to be ready and patient and to receive what God might will to send me. And I answered that I was ready to receive and to endure everything that in God’s good pleasure He desired to send me. Thereafter, on the following morning, the morning of [the festival of the] Holy Cross, which that year fell on a Friday; at daybreak I came forth from my cell, in very great fervor of spirit, and went to pray in this place where thou now are and where I often prayed, and, as I prayed, through the air, there came down from heaven, with great swiftness, a young man crucified, in the form of a Seraph with six wings; at which marvelous sight I humbly kneeled down and began to contemplate devoutly the boundless love of Jesus Christ crucified, and the boundless pain of His passion. – Hope ever urges us on and tells us tomorrow will be better.

6 – The sight of Him engendered in me such pity that I verily seemed to feel His passion in my own body; and, at His presence, all this mountain shone as the sun; and, so descending, He approached me. And, standing before me, He said certain secret words to me, which I have not yet revealed to anyone; but the time approaches when they shall be revealed. Then, after a while, Christ departed, and returned to heaven, and I found myself thus marked with these wounds. – Everything that is done in the world is done by hope.

7 – Go then,’ said St. Francis, ‘and tell these things to your minister doubting nothing; for this is the operation not of man but of God.’ And, when he had said these words, St. Francis blessed me and went back to heaven with a great multitude of youths, exceeding bright.” All these things Friar Matthew said he had seen and heard, not sleeping but awake. And he swore that he had truthfully told these things to the said minister in his cell at Florence, when he inquired of him concerning the same for obedience’ sake. – To be a sinner is our distress but to know it is our hope.


8 – At another time, a devout and holy friar, while reading the legend of St. Francis in the chapter of the most holy Stigmata, began with great trouble of spirit to consider what those so secret words could have been, which St. Francis said that he would not reveal to any one while he lived, which the Seraph had spoken to him when He appeared to him. And this friar said within himself: “St. Francis willed not to speak those words to any one during his lifetime; but now, after his bodily death, perchance he would tell them, if he were prayed devoutly so to do”.- Every child comes into the world with a message that God does not yet despair of man.

9 – And from then on, the devout friar began to pray God and St. Francis that they would vouchsafe to reveal those words. This friar continued eight years praying thus. In the eighth year he merited to be heard. One day, after eating, thanks having been given in the church, he was in prayer in a certain part of the church, and was praying to God and St. Francis concerning this matter, more devoutly than he usual wont, and with many tears; when he was called by another friar, who commanded him in the name of the Guardian to accompany him to the town for the good of the Place.  Not doubting that obedience is more meritorious than prayer, as soon as he had heard the commandment of his superior, he humbly left off praying and went with the friar that called him. – Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement, but nothing can be done without hope.

10 – And, as God willed it, he, by this act of ready obedience, merited what he had not merited by his long praying. No sooner than they had gone from the gate of the Place, they met two strange friars, who appeared to have come from a far country; and one of them seemed a young man and the other old and lean; and, by reason of the bad weather, they were all muddy and wet. Wherefore that obedient friar had great compassion for them, and said unto the companion, with whom he was going: “Mt dear brother, if the business we are going on may wait a little, since these strange friars have great need to be charitably received, I ask you to permit me first to go and wash their feet, and especially those of this aged friar, who has the greater need, and you will be able to wash those of this younger one, after we will go about the business of the convent”. – All human wisdom is summed up in two words: wait and hope.

11 – Then this friar consenting to the charitable desire of his companion, went back and received those strange friars very charitably, and took them into the kitchen to the fire to warm and dry themselves. At the fire eight other friars of the Place were warming themselves. And, after they had been a little while at the fire, they took (the two friars) aside to wash their feet, as they had agreed to do. – Love means to love that which is unlovable.

12 – And while that obedient and devout friar was washing the feet of the older friar, and removing the mud the feet, for they were very muddy, he looked and saw that his feet were marked with the most holy Stigmata and  for joy and wonder he embraced them closely, and began to cry aloud: “Either thou art Christ, or thou art St. Francis”. – Forgiving means to pardon the unpardonable.

13 – At that cry and at those words, the friars at the fire, arose and approached with great fear and reverence to see those glorious stigmata. And then, at their prayer, this ancient friar permitted them clearly to see and touch and kiss them. And, while they marveled yet more for joy, he said to them: “Doubt not and fear not, dearest friars and sons; I am your father Friar Francis, who, according to the will of God, founded three Orders. And seeing that, for eight years, I have been entreated by this friar, who is washing my feet, and to-day more fervently than ever before, that I would reveal unto him those secret words which the Seraph spoke to me when He gave me the stigmata, the words I resolved never to reveal in my lifetime, to-day, by the commandment of God, by reason of his perseverance and the ready obedience with which he left the sweetness of contemplation, I am sent by God to reveal to him, before you all, that which he asks.” – Faith means believing the unbelievable.

14 – And then, turning to that friar, St. Francis spaid: “Know, dearest friar, that, when I was upon the mountain of Alvernia, wholly absorbed in the remembrance of the passion of Christ in that seraphic apparition, I was by Christ thus marked on my body with the Stigmata, and then Christ said to me: ‘Do you know what I have done to you? I have given you the tokens of My passion, so that thou may be My standard-bearer. – If it were not for hope the heart would break.

15 – And even as I, on the day of My death, descended into Limbo, and, in virtue of these My Stigmata, drew out from there all the souls I found there, and took them to Paradise; so to you do I grant even from this hour, to the end that thou may be conformed to Me in death as thou hast been in life, that, after thou shall have passed from this life, every year on the day of your death, thou shall go to Purgatory, and, in virtue of your Stigmata which I have given youe, shall draw out from there all the souls of your three Orders, minors, sisters and continents, and, beyond this, those others whom thou shall find there, who were devoted to you, and shall lead them to Paradise.’ – Thought and feeling do not matter. We shall be judged only by our will.

16 – And these words I never spoke while I lived in the world.” And, when he had said these words, St. Francis and his companion suddenly vanished away. Many friars afterwards heard this from those eight friars who were present at this vision and at these words of St. Francis. – Don’t wait for the Last Judgment. It takes place every day.


17 – Once, on the mountain of Alvernia, St. Francis appeared to Friar John of Alvernia, a man of great sanctity, while he was praying, and stayed and spole with him for a very long time; and, at the last, desiring to depart, he said: “Ask of me what you wish”. Said Friar John: “Father, I pray you tell me what I have long desired to know: What were you doing, where were you, when the Seraph appeared to you”. – Human beings judge one another by their external actions. God judges them by their moral choice.

18 – St. Francis answered: “I was praying in that place where the chapel of Count Simon da Battifolle now is, and I was requesting two graces of my Lord Jesus Christ. The first was that He would grant me to feel, in this life, in my soul and in my body, as far as might be possible, all that pain which He Himself felt at the time of His most bitter passion. The second grace which I asked of Him was likewise that I might feel in my heart that intense love He was enkindled to bear so great passion for us sinners. – Every moment of resistance to temptation is a victory.

19 – And then God put it in my heart that He would grant I feel both one and the other, as much as was possible for a mere creature, and this was abundantly fulfilled in me at the imprinting of the Stigmata.” – No one is truly alive in the art of living till they have been well tempted.

20 – Then Friar John asked him whether those secret words which the Seraph had spoken to him had been even such as were rehearsed by that holy friar aforesaid, who declared that he had heard them from St. Francis in the presence of eight friars. St. Francis replied that the truth was even as that friar had said. – You cannot run away from a weakness. You must sometime fight it or perish.

21 – Thereupon, Friar John, encouraged by the liberality of the granter, took heart to ask yet more, and said: “O father, I beseech thee most earnestly that thou grant me to behold and to kiss your most holy and glorious Stigmata; not because I doubt in any way, but only for my consolation; for this have I always yearned”.- God is faithful and He will not let you be tempted beyond your strength.

22 – And, St. Francis freely showing them and offering them to him, Friar John clearly saw and touched and kissed them. And, at the last, he asked him: “Father, how great consolation had your soul, beholding Christ the Blessed coming to you to give you the marks of His most holy Passion? Now would to God that I might feel a little of that sweetness!” – Happiness in this life consists in the mastery of our passions.

23 – Then St. Francis made answer: “See these nails?” Said Friar John: “Father, yes”. “Touch again,” said St. Francis, “this nail which is in my hand.” Then Friar John, with great reverence and fear, touched that nail, and immediately, as he touched it, so great a perfume issued from it, as though it were a thin spiral of smoke, like of incense, and, entering through the nose of Friar John, filled his soul and body with so much sweetness, that he was rapt in God in ecstasy, and became insensible; and he remained rapt from that hour, which was the hour of Terce, even until Vespers. – A possibility is a hint from God.

24 – And of this vision and familiar conversation with St. Francis Friar John never spoke to any man, save only to his confessor, until he was about to die; but, being near his death, he revealed it to many friars. – God’s will is not an itinerary but an attitude.



25 – In the Province of Rome, a very devout and holy friar saw this marvelous vision. A certain friar, a very dear companion of his, having died one night, was buried, in the morning, before the entrance of the chapter-house; and, on the same day, after dinner, that friar went to a corner of the chapter-house to pray God and St. Francis devoutly for the soul of that dead friar his companion. And, as he persevered in prayer with supplications and tears, at noon, when all the others were gone away to sleep, he heard a great noise as of one being dragged through the cloister; whereat immediately with great fear he turned his eyes toward the grave of his companion, and saw St. Francis standing there at the entrance of the chapter-house, and behind him a great multitude of friars round about the said grave. – Prayer is no other but the revelation of the will or mind of God.

26 – He looked beyond, and saw in the midst of the cloister a very great flaming fire, and in the flames was the soul of his companion who was dead. He looked round the cloister and he saw Jesus Christ walking round the cloister with a great company of angels and of saints. And, while he gazed upon these things and marveled much, he saw that, when Christ passed before the chapter-house, St. Francis kneeled down with all those friars and spoke thus: “I beseech You, my dearest Father and Lord, that, through the inestimable charity which You showed Yourself to the human race in Your Incarnation, – What is most often asked of God is not His Will or Way but His approval of our way.

27 – Thou wilt have mercy on the soul of this my friar, who is burning in that flame”; and Christ answered him never a word but passed on. And, when He returned, the second time, and passed before the chapter-house, St. Francis again kneeled down with his friars, as the first time, and begged Him: “I pray You, merciful Father and Lord, through the boundless charity which You showed the human race when You died upon the wood of the cross, that Thou will have mercy on the soul of this my friar”. – Do not live in the past nor be anxious about the future, but quietly live the present in the hands of God.

28 – And Christ passed on as before and did not answer him. And going round the cloister He returned the third time and passed before the chapter-house, and then St. Francis, kneeling down as before, showed Him his hands and his feet and his side and said: “I beseech You, merciful Father and Lord, by that great pain and great consolation which I endured when You set these Stigmata in my flesh, that You have pity on the soul of this my friar who is in that fire of purgatory”. – If you want to disobey God, look for a place where He cannot see you.

29 – O wonderful thing! No sooner was Christ prayed that third time by St. Francis in the name of his Stigmata, than He forthwith stayed His steps and, looking upon the stigmata, gave ear to his prayer and said: “To you, Francis, I grant the soul of your friar”. And in this, of a surety, He willed to honor and confirm the glorious Stigmata of St. Francis, and openly to signify that the souls of his friars, who go to Purgatory, can in no way be more easily delivered from their pains and brought to the glory of Paradise, than by virtue of his Stigmata, according to the words which Christ spoke to St. Francis when He imprinted them upon him. – I cannot receive now what God will offer me tomorrow.

30 – Wherefore, as soon as these words had been spoken, that fire in the cloister vanished, and the dead friar came to St. Francis: and, together with him and with Christ, all that blessed company went up into heaven with their glorious King. For the which cause, this friar his companion, who had prayed for him, was exceeding glad when he saw him delivered from his pains and taken to paradise; and thereafter he told all that vision in order to the other friars, and together with them gave praise and thanks to God. – Nothing is small or great in God’s sight, whatever He wills becomes great to us.

May 2024 – Monthly Spiritual Assistant Greeting (Fr. 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:

May 2024

Dear Sisters and Brothers in St. Francis of Assisi,

The Lord grant you the gifts of Easter Joy:

The Peace of the Father’s abiding Life

The Paraclete of the Holy Spirit’s Presence

The Pardon of the Incarnate Son’s Mercy

Divine Love within and around you


The warmth of Mary’s Motherly Love

Who accepted us as Her children at the foot of the Cross

The month of May continues the joy of the Easter Good News of the Resurrected Savior. This month also celebrates the “Woman” whose total surrender to the Will of the Father allowed what we celebrate in the Sacred Triduum to happen. Simple statement.  Yes.  But true!

Scripture confirms Mary’s response to the Angel’s offer: let it be done to me as you have said (Luke 1: 38). At Mary’s let it be done, God entered the human scene as a distinct human being, a man. The Life-Ministry-Passion-Death-Resurrection-Glorification of the Incarnate Son of God, Jesus, depended on Mary’s “yes”. God sought humanity’s collaboration through Mary. Mary’s response was the beginning of a new experience of God for humanity. She, Mother of the Redeemer, stood at the foot of the Cross of Jesus. The Presentation ritual performed in Jerusalem for the Infant Jesus years before was now the reality, in fact and not in ritual, fulfilled for all humanity and every age on the Altar of the Cross. The Mother confirmed and offered the bone of her bone, flesh of her flesh, blood of her blood (Genesis 2: 23) to the Father, Whose Spirit overshadowed (Luke 1: 35) Mary that the flesh became man and dwelt among us (John 1: 14).

The Cross was a reality that followed Mary every moment of her life with Jesus. The ultimate gift of herself saw the humanity of all God’s children on the Cross in and with Christ. The Cross now signaled the consummation (John 19: 28) of the Father’s Promise to redeem us by One like us Who is also One with the Father. Mary’s life journey with Jesus offered her the time to allow her to enter more deeply into the Father’s Will that she accepted unconditionally years before. The mystery of the Cross prophesied through the prophets was now revealed in fact to Mary at Golgotha and the Empty Tomb.

As in the life of our Blessed Mother, the Mystery of the Cross for St. Francis led him gradually into a knowledge, understanding, and acceptance of the desire of his life:

My Lord Jesus Christ, I beg You to grant me two graces before my death:  first, that for the rest of my life I may experience in my soul and in my body, as much as possible, the same pain that you suffered,  O sweet Jesus, during the time of Your most cruel Passion; and second, that I may feel in my heart, as much as possible, the same love which inflamed You, the Son of God, and led You to suffer Your passion gladly for us sinners.

Eventually Francis became a living expression of the Cross that followed him his entire life. The joy of the journey of discovery was leading to the glory of total union in conformity to Christ. This ultimate gift would be conferred years later on Mount La Verna.

The Incarnation was not a static moment in history. It began a process that God envisioned from all eternity. Human in every way but sin, Jesus, the Son of God, known as son of Mary and Joseph, began a journey of fulfillment through total surrender to the Father’s Will, that was fulfilled 33 years later on the Cross when Jesus said: It is consummated  (John 19: 28). The mystery began at Nazareth in Mary’s womb, was first seen at Bethlehem in a manger, continued preaching-teaching-healing throughout Israel and Judah, and consummated triumphant on Golgotha. The empty tomb confirms the truth of Jesus’ identity and verifies the faith of the disciples in Him.

We are witnesses to that truth. We are ambassadors of the message and messenger through the centuries. The Cross! Even in the joyful periods of our Christian lives, the bright shadow of the Cross is always, and must be, present. The problem is that some portray the Cross without Jesus, and that only promotes pain, suffering, and slavery. Some want only Jesus the Resurrected One without the Cross. That is a lie. We need both together in order to express what the joy of Resurrection morning is all about. Thus, we understand more the depth of the prayer of St. Francis, Lord I beg You to grant me two graces, and so on, that we read above. The stage is now set for Francis Bernardone to encounter Jesus in the Cross of San Damiano.

One day when Francis went out to meditate in the fields, he walked near the church of San Damiano which was threatening to collapse because of age. Impelled by the Spirit, he went inside to pray. Prostrate before an image of the Crucified, he was filled with no little consolation as he prayed. While his tear-filled eyes were gazing at the Lord’s cross, he heard with his bodily ears a voice coming from that cross, telling him three times: “Francis, go and repair my house which, as you see, is all being destroyed.” Trembling, Francis was stunned at the sound of such an astonishing voice, since he was alone in the church; and as he absorbed the power of the divine words into his heart, he fell into an ecstasy of mind. At last, coming back to himself, he prepared himself to obey and pulled himself together to carry out the command of repairing the material church, although the principal intention of the words referred to that which Christ purchased with his own blood, as the Holy Spirit taught him and as he himself later disclosed to the brothers. (Legenda Major, chpt. 2, 1)

At San Damiano, the Crucified Christ challenged Saint Francis to Go rebuild My house. That task meant Francis had to transform himself first. The prayer Francis prayed before the Crucifix was from a heart ready and willing to listen and live the mystery of love the Cross conveyed to him:

O most high, glorious God,

Enlighten the darkness of my heart and give me

True faith, certain hope, and perfect charity,

Sense and knowledge, Lord, that I may carry out

Your holy and true command.

At first Francis interpreted his experience in a literal manner, doing all he could to provide the means, with stones and mortar, to rebuild the physical structure of San Damiano, which actually was in ruins. Although this may have been part of the intent of the revelation, Francis quickly realized that the rebuilding process of a building had to include also the transformation of his heart. He would have to rebuild his inner self, and in doing so, discover his true identity. A simultaneous vocation unfolded: rebuilding the place and rebuilding his person. He had to be focused on Christ so that he could rebuild, renew, restore, with the help of God, the person he was created to be. 

The story of every transformation is to rebuild and fix what is missing or broken. In so doing we add a freshness to what seemed old and useless. Thus we restore beauty, pleasure, purpose and give hope, encouragement and joy. This little phrase Francis heard three times, Go rebuild my house, affected the rest of his life and that of those who sought to live the Gospel Life as Francis envisioned.

How did Francis go about rebuilding his life? The process slowly unfolded from his gazing upon the Crucified Savior over time. What were the steps? Saint Clare of Assisi described it best in her Second Letter to Saint Agnes of Prague, when she wrote: Gaze upon Christ, consider Christ, contemplate Christ, imitate Christ. Those four steps – gaze, consider, contemplate, imitate – became the pathway into the discovery of a new heart, a new power and a new self.

Gaze to see, consider to know, contemplate to understand, and imitate as the result of a spiritual process of conviction that leads to a life to be lived. To live Jesus is to be totally conformed to Him that it is no longer I who live but He Who lives in me (Galatians 2: 20).

To imitate Christ is the key to understand what happened to Francis at San Damiano and the key to an effective rebuilding of one’s life. To imitate relates to the word image. In our context here, it means to become the image of the one upon whom I gaze. Francis learned that his self-image, that is, his identity, was to become that of Christ on the cross. Both Francis and Clare must have spent countless hours contemplating this mystery. The change that would take place within Francis’ heart was imaged by what he gazed upon, and this new self would become his tool for renewing the house of God. The key to all this is the Incarnation. The condescension of compassion (St. Leo Great sermon on Nativity of Jesus) presents the sublime humility and humble sublimity of Jesus in being human that we might share in the awesome graces of divinity.

In the Incarnation, God revealed to us Who He is. The Incarnation showed us the face of God. But what does this image portray? What do we see? What Francis and Clare saw in the person of the Incarnate Christ was humility, poverty and charity. The most visible, tangible expression of this was the cross.

In the Incarnation, Francis saw that becoming human was the basis for humility. In embracing our humanness, Jesus did not cling to being God. This choice was the epitome of humility. In so choosing, Jesus could accept everything to which human nature is prone, even death. This image of Christ as seen on the cross became an essential component of Francis’ new self.

Like Jesus, humility for Francis meant not to cling to anything or appropriate any goods, titles, honors or position. It meant to be a servant to all, even to inanimate creatures. Both the Canticle of the Creatures of St. Francis and the Laudato Si’ of Pope Francis remind us of this servanthood It means generosity of spirit and generosity of heart, the willingness to let all others be first. It means obedience to all, being subject to all, just like Jesus, the Word made flesh, who did not cling to honor, status or power. In recognizing himself in this image, Francis embraced the essence of his being and the realization that he needed nothing else to give him worth.

The poverty Francis saw in the Crucified was the poverty of being a human creature. In letting go of divinity, Jesus accepted to be dependent, powerless, helpless and empty, and to “be on his own”. This is the essence of poverty. This true picture of humanity, modeled in the Incarnation, enabled Saint Paul to write that Jesus, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness (Philippians 2:6-7). Jesus, as God, chose to become human and poor, in order to reveal God’s self, which is love, and teach us our true identity. This poverty of God was most visible by the fact of God’s Son dying on the cross. Here Jesus embraced powerlessness, emptiness and utter helplessness and opened himself to complete abandonment and trust in his Father. These were, and are, essential components of the human makeup.

The other element that the image of Christ on the cross portrayed was that of charity, compassionate love, all-embracing Love. Jesus’ outstretched arms drew in all humanity, welcoming every creature into the embrace of God’s tender love through mercy, forgiveness and acceptance of all. This meant recognizing and accepting the worth and dignity of each person.

The cross is a mirror. In seeing myself in that mirror, I see Christ Crucified, and in seeing Christ Crucified, I see my most authentic self. As I am transformed into that image, I become the person God has always intended me to be. The distinguishing marks that identify me are the same I see in Jesus: poverty, humility and charity, which are identifying marks of the face of God. Then I am my true and genuine self. This reflection is difficult to describe and I’m sure equally difficult to understand or accept. Yet it lies at the heart of Francis’ spirituality and mission.

It also ties in most intimately with his experience before the San Damiano Crucifix and the invitation to rebuild the Church. It was a transformed heart, a transformed self, into the image of Christ that became the tools by which society, the Church and all life could be rebuilt. As we embrace this process, we take a major step towards discovering who we are as a disciple of Christ.  We are also well on the way to rebuilding our inner life and ultimately rebuilding the house of God.

How can we make “God’s Project” real and concrete?  We must come to a moment in life where, like Francis, we say: This is what I want and desire with all my heart. (Words o St. Francis at the Portiuncula after hearing the gospel of the sending out of the disciples)  Once that is clear, then the rhythm of daily prayer is essential. We need to beg God for the kind of transformation of heart needed to have a dwelling place for humility and poverty and charity. We cannot achieve this on our own power. It is God’s project, God’s work, and only grace can make it happen.

The other arena is that of relationships, whether in the family, among friends, community life or one’s workplace. It is here that humility, poverty and compassionate charity are brought to life and nowhere else.

Francis’ biographers point out that, when people met up with Francis or heard him preach, it was not simply a question of listening to words of peace and joy. Nor were people merely persuaded to reflect upon reasons for forgiving each other, doing penance or thanking and praising God. Rather, they were confronted with these realities in the person of Francis. They were in the living presence of forgiveness, peace, faith and love. Francis had integrated these values into his person by taking on the image of Christ on the cross.

Francis became conformed to the Crucified to such a degree that at the end of his life he appeared like the Crucified with the wounds of Christ engraved into his flesh. This would complete what began at San Damiano when the wounds of the sacred Passion were impressed deep in his heart, though not yet on his flesh (Second Life, #10, Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, Volume 2: The Founder),

Francis sought repeatedly for ways to encourage the brothers to give birth to these essentials, to strive for purity of heart, and thus give birth to Christ in their own lives. This is the transformation that must go hand in hand with all other endeavors in proclaiming the Kingdom of God. This is the inner rebuilding that gives life and spirit to any outward effort.

This image of Christ in Francis was very real, as we read in Celano:  The brothers who lived with him know that daily, constantly, talk of Jesus was always on his lips, sweet and pleasant conversations about Him, kind words full of love. Out of the fullness of his heart his mouth spoke. So the spring of radiant love that filled his heart within gushed forth. He was always with Jesus: Jesus in his heart, Jesus in his mouth, Jesus in his ears, Jesus in his eyes, Jesus in his hands, he bore Jesus always in his whole body…. With amazing love he bore in his heart and always held onto Christ Jesus and Him crucified. (Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, Volume 1: The Saint, New City Press, p. 283)

May the Jesus we seek to imitate, truly be in our mouth, ears, lips, our whole being. The Cross that spoke to Francis is for us a reminder of the Jesus Who speaks to our hearts daily inviting us to rebuild, refresh, and restore the Christ that time, circumstance, or whatever may have distorted or covered over. The challenge of San Damiano is an offer and gift as fresh and vibrant today for us as it was for our Seraphic Father 800 years ago.

May the gift of the Holy Spirit, Whose descent into the heart of the Early Church at Pentecost, fill us with the gifts necessary to Live Jesus. We are Heralds of the Great King. In a world so desperately in need of the Good News, Who is a Person, Jesus the Christ, we preach Christ, and Christ Crucified and Risen (1 Corinthians 1: 23).

God bless you; our Lady and good St. Joseph guide, guard, and protect you; and Saints Francis and Clare of Assisi watch over all of us and our loved ones with loving care.

Peace and Blessings

Fr. Francis A. Sariego, OFM Cap

Regional Spiritual Assistant



(NB – Part of this month’s letter is taken from an article in St. Anthony’s Messenger in 2022. There are deletions, modifications, insertions not by the author, but the substance of the article from Roch Niemier, OFM. In gratitude and recognition for our brother’s article, I offer it for our consideration of the Third Cross of Saint Francis, the Cross of San Damiano, as presented by St. Bonaventure in his Legenda Major of St. Francis.)

May 2024 – Fr. Francis Sariego, OFM Cap, Monthly Spiritual Reflection

St. Katharine 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:

 May 2024

Though reflecting each month of the Jubilee Year celebrating the 800th anniversary of the reception of the Stigmata of the Christ by St. Francis of Assisi, the following prayer, composed by St. Francis, mat be recited is each day of this month to the Mother and Queen of our Seraphic Family.

Hail, O Lady,

Holy Queen,

Mary, holy Mother of God,

Who are the Virgin made Church,

Chosen by the most Holy Father in heaven

Whom he consecrated with His most holy beloved Son

And with the Holy Spirit and Paraclete,

In whom there was and is

All fullness of grace and every good.

Hail His Palace!

Hail His Tabernacle!

Hail His Dwelling!

Hail His Robe!

Hail His Servant!

Hail His Mother!

Daily excerpts from the Little Flowers of St. Francis, Fourth Consideration of the Stigmata.

Daily quotes from various spiritual writers.

Of the Fourth Consideration of the Sacred, Holy Stigmata

1 – As for the fourth consideration, it is worth knowing that, after the true love of Christ perfectly transformed Saint Francis into God and the true image of Christ crucified, the forty-day Lent in honor of Saint Michael the Archangel in the saint Mount Alverna, after the solemnity of Saint Michael, the angelic man Francis came down from the mountain with Brother Leo and a devout farmer, on whose donkey he was riding, since, because of the nails in his feet, he could not walk, but with great difficulty. – Do not have Jesus on your lips and the world in your heart.

2 – Having, therefore, descended from Mount Alverna, the fame of his holiness had already spread throughout the region and the shepherds had spread the fact of having seen Mount Alverna in flames, which was a sign that God had performed some miracle. To Saint Francis, all the people of the country, upon hearing that he was passing, came to see him. Men and women, small and large, all strove to touch him and kiss his hand with great devotion. – Carry the cross patiently and in the end it will carry.

3 – Not being able to escape the devotion of the people, although he had his palms bandaged, however, to better hide the sores, he still wrapped them and covered them with his sleeves, and only allowed the exposed fingers to be kissed. But, no matter how much he tried to hide and conceal the secret of the glorious wounds to flee from every occasion of worldly glory. – Kindness is loving people more than they deserve.

4 – It pleased God to manifest his glory with many miracles performed by the virtue of said wounds. Above all, on this journey from Mount Alverna to Santa María degli Ángeli, and later, with many others in different parts of the world, both during his life and after his death, so that his hidden and wonderful virtue and the measureless charity and mercy of Christ towards him through clear and evident wonders, of which we enumerate some here. – Which are you: a stumbling block or a stepping stone?

5 – It happened that, as Saint Francis approached a village on the edge of the Arezzo region, a woman stood before him, crying bitterly and carrying in her arms her eight-year-old son, who had been suffering from dropsy for four years; His belly was so disproportionately inflated that, standing upright, his feet could not be seen. The woman put the son in front of her, begging St. Francis to ask God for him. Saint Francis put himself first in prayer; Once this was finished, he placed his hands on the child’s belly. Immediately all the swelling disappeared and he was perfectly healthy, and he returned him to his mother, who received him with great joy and took him home, giving thanks to God and his saint. And she very gladly showed the cured son to the entire neighborhood who came to her house to see him. – Life can be understood backward but it must be lived forward.

6 – That same day Saint Francis passed through Borgo San Sepolcro. Before he reached the town, a crowd of people from the city and neighboring villages came out to meet him; Many of them went before him with olive branches in their hands and shouting loudly: — Here comes the saint, here comes the saint! – Trust in the Lord with all your heart.

7 – And people crowded and pressed on him in their desire to touch him out of devotion. But he went with his mind so elevated and absorbed in God through contemplation, that, no matter how much they touched him, pulled him, and squeezed him, as if he were insensitive, he did not feel anything that happened or was said around him, and He didn’t even realize that he was passing through the city or the region. – To repent is to take God’s point of view rather than my own.

8 – In fact, when they had passed Borgo and the crowd had returned to their homes, upon reaching a leprosarium a mile beyond Borgo, he came to himself from the celestial contemplation, and, as if coming from the other world, asked his companion: — When do we get to Borgo? – We see things not as they are but as we are.

9 – In truth, his spirit, fixed and absorbed in the contemplation of heavenly things, had not realized the things of earth, nor the diversity of places and times, nor the people he met. This also happened to him other times, as his companions could clearly verify. – How else but through a broken heart can the Lord Christ enter in?

10 – That night Saint Francis arrived at the hermitage that the brothers had in Monte Casale, where there was a brother so pitifully ill and horribly tormented by a disease, that his illness seemed more like tribulation or torment from the devil than a natural illness. He sometimes threw himself on the ground with great convulsions and foaming at the mouth; other times all the members of his body would contract, or they would distend or retract and twist until they touched the back of his neck with his heels; or else he would throw himself up and then fall on his back. – The effect of our sharing in the Body and Blood of Christ is to change us into what we receive.

11 – While Saint Francis was at table with his people, he heard them talk about this brother, a hopeless victim of such a pitiful illness, and he had compassion for him; He took a slice of bread that he was eating, made the sign of the cross on it with his holy stigmatized hands and sent it to the sick brother. As soon as he had eaten it, the patient was perfectly cured and never felt that illness again. – Knowing the truth and not doing it is as foolish as writing a love letter and not sending it.

12 – The next morning, Saint Francis sent two of the brothers who were in that hermitage to live in Alverna, and with them he sent along the farmer who had come with him, so that he could return to his home. The brothers went along with the farmer, and when they reached the territory of Arezzo, some of the inhabitants saw them from afar and were filled with joy thinking that Saint Francis was coming, who had passed through there two days before. – Our lives belong not to us alone but to all who need us.

13 – Now, the wife of one of them had been in childbirth pain for three days and she was about to die. They hoped that she would recover her health if they managed to get Saint Francis to place his holy hands on her. But, as the brothers approached, they were saddened that Saint Francis was not among them.  But although the Saint was not physically present, his power was not lacking, because the faith of those men was not lacking. Admirable thing! The woman was dying and she already had all the signs of death. They asked the brothers if they had anything that had been touched by the most holy hands of Saint Francis. – Prayer is an expression that we are living incompleteness.

14 – The brothers searched with interest, and found nothing else that Saint Francis had touched but what he was seated on while riding the donkey. They took it with great reverence and devotion and placed it on the body of the pregnant woman, devoutly invoking the name of Saint Francis and entrusting her to him with faith. As soon as the object touched the woman, she immediately felt out of danger and gave birth easily with joy and health. – When you betray somebody else, you betray yourself.

15 – After a stay of several days in the hermitage, he left there and headed to Città di Castello. Here the inhabitants presented him with a woman who had been possessed by the devil for some time, and humbly begged him to free her from the devil, because she had the entire region in an uproar with her screams, her ferocious screams, and her dog’s barking. Saint Francis, after praying, drew the sign of the cross on her and ordered the demon to come out of her. He left immediately, leaving her body and spirit healthy.- The fragrance always stays in the hand that gives the rose.

16 – When this miracle spread throughout the town, another woman with great faith brought her little boy, seriously ill with a malignant sore, to him and devoutly begged him to make the sign of the cross over the boy. Saint Francis, agreeing to his devotion, took the little boy, removed the bandage from the wound, blessed him by making the sign of the cross over him three times, and then bandaged him again with his hands and gave him to his mother. Since it was late, she simply put him to sleep in bed. In the morning she went to get the child out of bed, and found him without the bandage. He was completely cured, as if he had never had any illness. At the site of the sore the flesh had formed like a red rose, as if to bear witness to the miracle rather than as a scar from the sore. That rose, in fact, having remained with him throughout his life, often incited him to devotion to Saint Francis, who had cured him. – Courage is doing what you are afraid to do. There is no courage without being scared.

17 – Saint Francis stayed in that city for a month, acceding to the devout prayers of the inhabitants, and during that time he performed many other miracles. Afterwards he resumed the journey to Santa María degli Ángeli with Brother Leo and with a good man who lent him his little horse so that Saint Francis could ride on it. And it happened that, because of the bad roads and the extreme cold, having walked all day, they could not reach any place where they could stay. They were forced by night and bad weather to take shelter in a cave, to protect themselves from the snow and the night. – God often visits us, but most of the time we are not at home.

18 – Finding himself out in the open and poorly sheltered, the good man who owned the donkey, unable to sleep because of the cold and without the possibility of making a fire, began to lament and grumble within himself and cry, and almost murmured about Saint Francis, who had led him to that place. Then, Saint Francis, noticing him, had compassion for him, and with fervor of spirit he stretched out his hand over him and touched him. Admirable thing! As soon as he had touched him with his hand, scorched and pierced by the fire of the seraph, the cold completely disappeared, and he felt filled with so much heat inside and out, that it seemed to him that he was standing at the mouth of a burning furnace. – The age old struggle: the roar of the crowd on one side and the voice of conscience on the other.

19 – Thus, comforted in soul and body, the man surrendered to sleep, and, according to him, he slept that night among stones and snow until dawn more softly than he had ever slept in his own bed. The next day they continued their journey to Santa María degli Ángeli. When they were close, Brother Leo raised his eyes and looked towards the hermitage of Saint Mary. Then he saw a most beautiful cross, with the image of the Crucified, which was walking in front of Saint Francis, who was walking in front of him. – Knowing God is a question of opening one’s heart and loving God.

20 – That cross went in such a way before the face of Saint Francis that, when he stopped, it also stopped, and, when he walked, it walked; and its brilliance was such that it not only shone on the face of Saint Francis, but also illuminated the entire environment around it, and it remained until Saint Francis entered the hermitage of Saint Mary. – Religion is not a list of things to do but a person to be followed.

21 – Upon arriving at the hermitage, Saint Francis and Brother Leo were received by the brothers with great joy and charity. From then on, Saint Francis lived most of the time in the place of Saint Maris degli Angeli until his death. From day to day the fame of his holiness and his miracles spread more and more throughout the Order and the world, even though he, due to his profound humility, hid as much as he could the gifts and graces of God and proclaimed himself to be very great sinner. – What comes from the heart touches the heart.

22 – Brother Leo was surprised by this, and he began to think about his simplicity: This man calls himself a very great sinner in public. He entered the Order as an adult. God distinguishes him with so many favors.  Nevertheless, in secret he never confesses to carnal sin. Could he be a virgin? And a vehement desire came to him to know the truth about it, but he did not dare to ask Saint Francis; So he turned to God, begging him to assure him of what he wanted to know, and he deserved to be heard for his insistent prayer, and he received certainty that Saint Francis was truly a virgin in the body through the following vision: he saw Saint Francis sitting on a elevated and exalted place, to which no one could go or approach, and it was revealed to him that that lofty and singular place meant the height of virginal chastity in Saint Francis, as was appropriate for a flesh destined to be adorned with the sacred wounds of Christ. – All that we send into the lives of others, comes back into our own.

23 – Saint Francis seeing that, because of his wounds, his physical strength was gradually failing and that he could no longer continue to take care of the government of the Order, hastened the convocation of the general chapter. When he had gathered in full, he humbly apologized to the brothers for the impossibility in which he found himself of continuing to care for the Order as general minister, although he did not renounce the office of generalship. This, in fact, he could not do, because he had been appointed general by the pope, for which reason he could neither leave the office nor establish a successor without express permission from the pope. But he appointed brother Peter Cattani as his vicar. – God is much more anxious to communicate with us than we are to listen.

24 – Once this was done, Saint Francis, comforted in spirit, raised his eyes and hands to heaven and said:  To you, Lord and my God, I recommend this your family, which you have entrusted to me until now, and of which I can no longer continue taking care of myself due to my illnesses that you well know, my sweet Lord. I also recommend it to the provincial ministers. They will be obliged to report to you on the day of judgment if, due to their negligence, or their bad example, or their rigor in correcting, any brother is lost. – God dwells wherever we let Him in.

25 – God wanted all the brothers to realize that with those words he was referring to the wounds when excusing himself because of illness; and none could contain themselves without crying out of devotion. From then on he left all the care and government of the Order in the hands of his vicar and the provincial ministers; and he said: Now, having left the care of the Order because of my illnesses, I pray to God for our Order that I may give a good example to the brothers. And I know very well that, if weakness allowed me, the best service I could do to the Order would be to continually pray for it to God, so that He may govern, defend and preserve it. – The same fence that shuts others out, shuts us in.

26 – Even though, as has been said, Saint Francis tried, as far as he could, to hide the most sacred wounds and always walked, from the moment he received them, with his hands bandaged and his feet shod, he could not prevent many brothers from seeing them. They could see and touch them in different ways, especially the wound on his side, which he tried to hide with greater care. Thus, a brother who assisted him once induced him, with a pious trick, to take off his habit to shake off the dust; and, as he took it off in front of him, the brother clearly saw the wound on his side, and, quickly passing his hand over his chest, he touched it with three fingers, being able to measure its greatness and dimensions. – Hope is putting faith in work, when doubting would be easier.

27 – His vicar also looked at that time. But Brother Rufino verified it even more clearly, who was a man of great contemplation. Saint Francis even said about him that there was no one in the world holier than him. Because of his great holiness, he professed an intimate love for him and pleased him with everything he desired. – Where the human spirit fails, the Holy Spirit fills.

28 – This brother Rufino was able to verify and assure others in three ways about the truth of the wounds, and especially the one on the side. The first was that, having to wash his pants, which Saint Francis wore so big that he could stretch them at the top until covering the sore on the right side, Brother Rufino looked at them and observed them attentively, and always found them bloody on the right side, with which he realized with certainty that it was blood flowing from that wound. – If God loves us as much as we love God, where would we all be?

29 – Therefore, when Saint Francis saw that he spread his pants to observe that footprint, he reprimanded him. The second occasion was once when Brother Rufino was rubbing the back of Saint Francis. He intentionally took his hand and put his fingers on the sore on his side. Saint Francis then gave a cry of pain and said: God forgive you, brother Rufino. Why did you do that? – Without love and compassion for others , our own apparent love for Christ is fiction.

30 – The third occasion was the time when he asked Saint Francis, with great insistence and as a particular grace, to give him his habit and keep his out of love of charity. Condescending, although not willingly, to such a request, the charitable Father took off his habit, gave it to him, and put on his. With that taking off and putting on, brother Rufino clearly saw the wound. Likewise, brother Leo and many other brothers saw the wounds of Saint Francis while he lived. And although these brothers, due to their holiness, were men worthy of giving faith and credit to their word, yet, to remove all doubt in their hearts, they swore on the holy book that they had seen them clearly. – Faithfulness in little things is a big thing.

31 – Some cardinals who treated him with great familiarity also saw them, and, in veneration of the wounds of Saint Francis, they composed beautiful and devout hymns, antiphons and prose. The Supreme Pontiff, Pope Alexander, preaching to the people before all the cardinals, among whom was the holy brother Bonaventure, who was a cardinal, said and affirmed that he had seen with his own eyes the sacred wounds of Saint Francis when he still lived. – Nothing here below is profane for those who know how to see. On the contrary, everything is sacred.



St. Francis Fraternity (Easton) Chapter of Elections – March 17, 2024

Greetings to all from St. Francis Retreat House in Easton, PA, where St. Francis Fraternity held a Chapter of Elections on St. Patrick’s Day.  The fraternity had 100% attendance, with 21 members present to cast their votes.


With great joy, we introduce the new servant leaders of this fraternity:

Minister Mark Shedden,, OFS
Vice-Minister Andrea Olock, OFS
Secretary Joan Hilstolsky, OFS
Treasurer Stephen Puccino, OFS
Formation Director Rosemary Rossner, OFS
Councilor-at-Large Thomas Coleca, OFS
Councilor-at-Large Mandy Gero, OFS
Presider Teresa Redder, OFS

St. Katharine Drexel Regional Minister

Ecclesial Witness Fr. Loren Connell, OFM (Delegate)

Our Lady of Guadalupe Province

Secretary of Elections Rosemary Rossner, OFS
Tellers of Election Thomas Coleca, OFS

Malia Dillard, OFS

Top row (l-r): Br. Loren Connell, OFM (Spiritual Asst), Rosemary Rossner, OFS (Formation Director), Tom Coleca, OFS (Councilor-at-Large), Mandy Gero, OFS (Councilor-at-Large), Steve Puccino, OFS (Treasurer)

Bottom row: Andrea Olock, OFS (Vice-Minister), Mark Shedden, OFS (Minister), & Teresa Redder, OFS (SKD Regional Minister)

Not available for the photos: Joan Hilstolsky, OFS (Secretary)

May God bless the outgoing council members for their long and dedicated service and may the Holy Spirit animate the new leadership council to serve the Lord with gladness for the next three years with fidelity and humility!


March 2024 – Fr. Francis Sariego, OFM Cap – Monthly Spiritual Reflection

Saint Katharine Drexel Regional Fraternity Spiritual Assistant

St. Francis of Assisi Friary

1901 Prior Road

Wilmington, Delaware 19809

tel: (302) 798-1454      fax: (302) 798-3360      website: skdsfo     email:

Alleluia!  He is Risen!  He is Truly Risen!  Alleluia!

March 2024


Wherever we are, in every place, at every hour,

at every time of the day, every day and continually,

let all of us truly and humbly believe, hold in our heart and love, honor, adore, serve,

praise and bless, glorify and exalt, magnify and give thanks

to the Most High and Supreme Eternal God, Trinity and Unity,

Father, Son and Holy Spirit,

Creator of all, Savior of all who believe and hope in Him, and love Him, Who,

without beginning and end, is unchangeable, invisible, indescribable, ineffable,

incomprehensible, unfathomable, blessed, praiseworthy, glorious, exalted,

sublime, most high, gentle, lovable, delightful,

and totally desirable above all else forever.


(Prayer of Saint Francis taken from the Earlier Rule, chapter 23)

Daily excerpts from Franciscan Sources and brief daily sayings from various spiritual writers

From Little Flowers of St. Francis


1 – The second consideration is touching the conversation of St. Francis with his companions upon the said mountain of Alvernia. And as to this it is to be known; that, when Messer Orlando had heard that St. Francis with three companions had gone up into the mountain of Alvernia to dwell there, he had very great joy thereof; and, on the following day, he set out with many of his retainers and came to visit St. Francis, bearing bread and wine and other victuals for him and for his companions; and, coming to the place where they were, he found them in prayer; and drawing nigh unto them he saluted them.

Carry the Cross patiently and in the end it will carry you.

2 – Then St. Francis rose up and with very great charity and joy welcomed Messer Orlando and his company; and, when he had thus done, he entered into conversation with him; and, after they had talked together and St. Francis had thanked him for the holy mountain which he had given him and for his coming there, he asked him that he would cause a poor little cell to be made at the foot of a very beautiful beech-tree, which was distant a stone’s throw from the Place of the friars, because that spot seemed to him most apt and to dedicate to prayer.

Kindness is loving people more than they deserve.

3 – And straightway Messer Orlando caused it to be built; and, when it was finished, because the evening drew nigh and it was time for them to depart, St. Francis, before they went, preached unto them a little: and, after he had preached and given them his blessing, Messer Orlando, since he could no longer stay, called St. Francis and his companions aside.

Life can be understood backward, but it must be lived forward.

4 – (Messer Orlando) said unto them: “My most dear friars, I do not want you, in this savage mountain, to suffer any bodily want, that might hinder you from spiritual things; and therefore I desire (and this I tell you once for all) that you do not hesitate to send to my house for all that you need; and, if you do not do so, I shall take it very ill of you”. And, having thus spoken, he departed with his company and returned to his castle.

To repent is to alter one’s way of looking at life.

5 – Then St. Francis made his companions sit down and instructed them concerning the manner of life which they, and whoever desires to live religiously in hermitages, must lead. And, among other things, he especially laid upon them the observance of holy poverty, saying: “Do not consider over the charitable offer of Messer Orlando too much, that in may not offend our lady and mistress, holy Poverty.

To repent is to take God’s point of view instead of my own.

6 – Be sure that the more we shun Poverty the more the world will shun us; but, if we shall closely embrace holy Poverty, the world will follow after us and will abundantly supply all our needs. God hath called us to this holy religion for the salvation of the world, and hath made this covenant between us and the world; that we should give to the world a good example and the world should provide for us in our necessities. Let us continue, therefore, in holy poverty, because that is the way of perfection and the pledge and earnest of eternal riches.

Feed your Faith and your doubts will starve to death.

7 – And, after many beautiful and devout words and admonishments touching this matter, he concluded, saying: “This is the manner of life which I lay upon myself and upon you; for I perceive that I draw nigh unto my death, and I am minded to be solitary, and to turn all my thoughts to God and to bewail my sins before Him; and Friar Leo, when it shall seem good to him, shall bring me a little bread and a little water; and in no way are you to permit any layman to come to me; but you speak to them for me”.

We become that which we think.

8 – And when he had said these words he gave them his blessing, and went to the cell beneath the beech-tree; and his companions abode in the Place, firmly resolved to observe the commandments of St. Francis. A few days later, as St. Francis was standing beside the said cell, considering the conformation of the mountain, and marveling at the huge chasms and clefts in those tremendous rocks, he betook himself to prayer; and then was it revealed to him of God that those wondrous fissures had been made miraculously in the hour of Christ’s Passion, when, even as the evangelist says, “the rocks were rent”.

Character may be manifest in great moments but it is made in small ones.

9 – And this, as God willed it, was singularly manifested in that mountain of Alvernia because it was pre-ordained that, in that place, St. Francis must renew the Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ, in his soul through love and pity, and in his body through the imprinting of the most holy stigmata.

The more we depend on God, the more dependable we find God is.

10 – Now, when he had received this revelation, St. Francis straightway shut himself up in his cell, and, closing his mind to all earthly things, disposed himself to await the mystery of this revelation. And from then on, because he continued always in prayer, St. Francis began, more often than befpre, to taste the sweetness of Divine contemplation; whereby he was often so rapt in God that he was seen by his companions uplifted from the ground and rapt from out himself.

Strong beliefs win strong people and make them stronger.

11 – In these raptures of contemplation, not only were things present and future revealed to him by God, but also the secret thoughts and desires of the friars, even as Friar Leo, his companion, on that day, proved in his own person. For the said Friar Leo being bothered by the devil with a very grievous temptation, not carnal but spiritual, there came upon him a great desire to have some holy thing written by the hand of St. Francis; for he thought that, if he had it, that temptation would leave him, either altogether or in part; nevertheless, albeit he had this desire, for shame and reverence he lacked the courage to speak thereof to St. Francis; but what Friar Leo did not tell him, was revealed to him by the Holy Ghost.

You can’t lead anyone further than you have gone yourself.

12 – Wherefore St. Francis called him unto him and made him bring inkhorn and pen and paper, and with his own hand wrote a laud of Christ, according to the desire of the friar, and at the end thereof made the sign of the Tau, and gave it to him saying: “Take this paper, dearest friar, and keep it diligently until your death. God bless you and preserve you from every temptation. Be not dismayed that you have temptations, for then do I hold you more my friend and a truer servant of God; and I love you the more the more you have fought against thy temptations. Truly I say to you that no man may call himself a perfect friend of God until he has passed through many temptations and tribulations.”

Love is the only force that can make things one without destroying them.

13 – And when Friar Leo had received this writing with very great devotion and faith, every temptation left him; and, returning to the Place, he related to his companions, with great joy, what grace God had done him as he received that writing from St. Francis; and he put it in a safe place and preserved it diligently; and therewith, in after-time, the friars wrought many miracles.

Not to decide is to decide.

14 – And from that hour the said Friar Leo commenced to scrutinize and to consider the life of St. Francis, with great purity and goodwill; and, by reason of his purity, he merited to behold how many times and often St. Francis was rapt in God and uplifted from the ground, sometimes for the space of three cubits, sometimes of four, and sometimes even to the height of the beech-tree; and sometimes he beheld him raised so high in the air, and surrounded by such radiance, that scarcely could he see him.

When character is lost, all is lost.

15 – And what did this simple friar do when St. Francis was so little raised above the ground that he could reach him? He went softly and embraced his feet and kissed them with tears, saying: “My God, have mercy upon me a sinner; and, for the merits of this holy man, grant me to find Thy grace.”

Let us be paths to be used and forgotten.

16 – And, one time among the rest, while he stood beneath the feet of St. Francis, when he was so far uplifted from the ground, that he could not touch him, he beheld a scroll inscribed with letters of gold descend from heaven and rest above the head of St. Francis, and upon this scroll these words were written: “QVI È LA GRAZIA DI DIO—Here is the grace of God; and, after that he had read it, he saw it return again to heaven.

It is never a question of faith or no faith, the question always is:

In what or whom do I put my faith?

17 – By reason of this grace of God which was in him, not only was St. Francis rapt in God through ecstatic contemplation, but also he was sometimes comforted by angelic visitations. Thus, one day, while St. Francis was thinking of his death and of the state of his Religion after his life should be ended, and was saying: “Lord God, what after my death shall become of Your mendicant family, which through Your goodness You have entrusted to me a sinner? Who shall console them? Who shall correct them? Who shall pray to You for them?”

When you consider anyone or situation hopeless,

you are slamming the door in the face of God.

18 – While he spoke these and such-like words, there appeared unto him the angel sent by God, who comforted him, saying: “I tell you in God’s name that the profession of your Order shall not fail until the Day of Judgment; and there shall be no sinner so great that, if he shall love your Order from his heart, he shall not find mercy with God; and no one who persecutes your Order maliciously shall live long. Moreover no one, in your Order, who is very wicked and who does not amend his life will be able to remain long in the Order.

An honest person is the noblest work of God.

19 – Therefore do not grieve if you see in your Religion certain friars who are not good, and who do not observe the Rule as they ought to do; neither think that for this reason your Religion will decline; for there will always be very many in the Order who will perfectly follow the life of the gospel of Christ and the purity of the Rule; and such as these, as soon as ever their earthly life is done, will go to the life eternal, without passing through purgatory at all; some will follow it, but not perfectly; and these, before they go to paradise, will be in purgatory: but the time of their purgation will be remitted to you by God.

–  We must learn to live together as brothers or we will perish together like fools.

20 – But for those who do not observe the Rule at all, do not be concerned, says God, because He does care about them.” And when the angel had spoken these words he departed, leaving St. Francis consoled and comforted. Thereafter, when the feast of the Assumption of Our Lady drew nigh, St. Francis sought to find a fitting spot, more secret and remote, wherein in greater solitude he might keep the forty days’ fast of St. Michael the Archangel, which commences on the said feast of the Assumption. Wherefore he called Friar Leo and spoke to him saying: “Go and stand at the doorway of the oratory of the Place of the friars; and, when I shall call you, do return to me”.

  • Walk one step toward God and God will run ten steps to you.

21 – Friar Leo went and stood in the said doorway; and St. Francis called loudly. Friar Leo, hearing him call, returned to him; and St. Francis said: “Son, let us search for another more secret spot where you shall not be able to hear me when I shall call you”; and, as they searched, they saw, on the southern side of the mountain, a lonely place exceedingly well suited for his purpose; but it was impossible to reach it, because there was in front of it a rocky chasm, horrible and fearful, and very great. Wherefore, with much labor they laid a tree across the same, after the fashion of a bridge, and passed over to the other side.

A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle.

22 – Then St. Francis sent for the other friars and told them how he purposed to keep the forty days’ fast of St. Michael in that solitary place; and therefore he asked them to make him a little cell there, so that they would not hear him crying out; and, when the little cell of St. Francis was finished, he said to them: “Go to your own Place and leave me here alone; for, with the help of God, I mean to keep this fast in this place without any trouble or disturbance of mind; and therefore let none of you come here to me, nor allow any layman to come to me. But you, Friar Leo, alone shall come to me, once a day, with a little bread and water, and at night once again, at the hour of matins; and then shall you come to me in silence; and, when you are at the head of the bridge, you shall say to me: Domine, labia mea aperies; and, if I answer you, pass over and come to the cell and we will say matins but if I do not answer you, leave immediately.”

Lord, help me never to do the right thing for the wrong reason.

23 – And this St. Francis said because he was sometimes so rapt in God that he heard not nor perceived anything with the bodily senses; and, when he had thus spoken, St. Francis gave them his blessing; and they returned to the Place. Now, the feast of the Assumption was approaching. St. Francis began the holy fast with very great abstinence and severity, mortifying his body and comforting his spirit with fervent prayers, vigils and flagellations; and in these prayers, ever growing from virtue to virtue, he prepared his mind to receive the Divine mysteries and the Divine splendors, and his body to endure the cruel assaults of the fiends, with whom often he fought bodily.

Life is a voyage that’s homeward bound.

24 – And among the other times was one when, on a day, as St. Francis came forth from his cell in fervor of spirit, and went to a place difficult to reach, to pray in the cavity of a hollow rock, where from down to the ground there is a very great height, and a horrible and fearful precipice; suddenly the devil came in terrible shape, with tempest and with very great uproar, and smote him to cast him down from there.

If your faith cannot move mountains, it ought to at least climb them.

25 – Wherefore, St. Francis, not having any place to flee to, and being unable to endure the passing cruel aspect of the demon, forthwith turned himself round, with his hands and face and with all his body against the rock, commending himself to God, and groping with his hands if, perhaps, he might find something to lay hold of. But, as it pleased God, who never allows His servants to be tempted beyond that which they can bear, suddenly the rock to which he clung miraculously hollowed itself to the form of his body and so received him into itself; and even as if he had put his hands and face into liquid wax, so was the shape of the face and hands of St. Francis imprinted upon the said rock; and, in this way, being helped of God, he escaped from the devil.

What great thing would you attempt if you knew you would not fail?

26 – But that which the devil could not then do to St. Francis, namely to cast him down from there, he did a good while after, when St. Francis was dead, to a dear and devout friar of his, who, in that same place, was adjusting certain pieces of wood to the end that it might be possible to go there without peril, for devotion toward St. Francis and toward the miracle which was wrought there; and one day the devil pushed him, when he had a great log on his head which he wished to set there, and caused him to fall down from there with that log on his head; but God, who had saved and preserved St. Francis from falling, through his merits saved and preserved that devout friar of his from the peril of the fall; for, as the friar fell, he commended himself with very great devotion and with a loud voice to St. Francis, who straightway appeared to him and took him and set him on the rocks below, without permitting him to suffer any shock or hurt.

We see things not as they are but as we are.

27 – Then, the friars, having heard his cry as he fell, and believing that he was dead and dashed to pieces, by reason of the great height from which he had fallen upon the sharp rocks, with great sorrow and weeping took the bier and went from the other side of the mountain to search for the fragments of his body and to bury them. Now, when they had already come down from the mountain, the friar who had fallen met them, with the log wherewith he had fallen upon his head; and he was singing the Te Deum laudamus, in a loud voice.

An empty meaningless faith may be worse than none.

28 – And, because the friars marveled greatly, he related unto them in order all the manner of his falling, and how St. Francis had rescued him from every peril. Then all the friars accompanied him to the place, singing most devoutly the psalm, Te Deum laudamus, and praising and thanking God together with St. Francis for the miracle which he had wrought in his friar.

They stand best who kneel most.

29 – St. Francis, then, continuing (as has been said) the fast, although he sustained many assaults of the devil, nevertheless he received many consolations from God, not only through angelic visitations but also through the birds of the air; for, during all the time of that fast, a hawk, which was building its nest hard by his cell, awakened him every night a little before matins, with its cry, and by beating itself against his cell, and departed not until he rose up to say matins; and, when St. Francis was more weary than usual, or weak or sick, this hawk, after the manner of a discreet and compassionate person, into uttered its cry later than it was wont to do. And so St. Francis took great joy of this clock, because the great diligence of the hawk drove away from him all sloth, and urged him to prayer: and besides this, sometimes, in the daytime, it would familiarly sit with him.

Do not have Jesus Christ on your lips and the world in your heart.

30 – Finally, touching this second consideration, St. Francis, being much weakened in body, both by reason of his great abstinence, and of the assaults of the devil, and desiring to comfort his body with the spiritual food of the soul, began to meditate on the immeasurable glory and joy of the blessed in the life eternal, and therewith he began -to pray God that He would grant him to taste a little of that joy.

There’s a hole in every heart that only God can fill.

31 – And, as he continued in this thought, an angel appeared to him there, with very great splendor, bearing a viol in his left hand and in his right a bow; and, while yet St. Francis was all amazed at the sight of him, the angel drew his bow once across the viol; and straightway St. Francis heard so sweet a melody that it filled all his soul with rapture and rendered it insensible to every bodily feeling; insomuch that, according to that which he afterward told his companions, he doubted whether, if the angel had drawn the bow back again across the viol, his soul must not have departed out of his body by reason of the intolerable sweetness. And this suffices for the second consideration.

Christ changed the dark door of death into the shinning gate of life.


Alleluia! He is Risen! He is Truly Risen! Alleluia!

We are an ‘Alleluia’ People.

Live His Resurrection – it is ours – Live In-With-For – The Risen Lord Jesus

Through The Cross To The Light



March 2024-Fr. Francis Sariego, OFM Cap – Monthly Greetings

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:

March 2024

Dear Sisters and Brothers in St. Francis,

The Lord grant us the gift of His peace.

A prayer card honoring the Holy Family portrayed St. Joseph at his work bench, our Blessed Mother Mary preparing something in the background, and the Boy Jesus in the doorway of the house. Jesus was standing with His arms wide open and smiling at Joseph and Mary. Mary and Joseph looked at Jesus with subtle joy. There seemed also to be a meditative glance they both had as they looked at Jesus. The brightness of the sun caused a shadow to be formed in the house. The shadow was in the form of a cross that started at the feet of Jesus and extended toward Joseph and Mary. From the beginning of His earthly life the shadow of the cross followed Jesus, it was “fastened” to His Person. In fact it was at the very “root” of the Incarnation. The Word became flesh and dwelt among us (John 1: 14) with the mission to preach the Gospel of God’s love and mercy and to show the extent of His love even to death and death on a cross (Philippians 2: 8).

The fact is that the Word is one of us in all things but sin (Hebrews 4: 15). He began His public ministry preaching, teaching and openly preparing His disciples that the Son of Man must first suffer and be put to death, and then be raised on the third day (Luke 9: 22-27). People search for meaning and purpose to their lives: why am I here? Why was I born? What am I expected to do” Who am I? It sounds like psychotherapy. These questions come from the depths of a searching heart.

Our objective in life is to become one with the One in Whose image and likeness we are created. The Incarnation speaks to us of the humility of God willing to become an integral member of humanity as a human so that humanity, through-with-in Him might become one with God more intimately. Collaborating with God’s grace we are “conformed” to Christ – more deeply. As St. Paul states: It is not I who live, but Christ who lives in me (Galatians 2: 20). Some, more privileged are given a share in the life of grace through the “Mystical Union” we read so often about in the spiritual writings of many saints. The mystical union, a unique divine gift of God alone, transforms the person in various ways. For St. Francis of Assisi, the reception of the Stigmata of Jesus was the ultimate sign of his “one-ness” with Christ. The fullness of this union, begun years before, took a lifetime of willingly surrendering to God’s will.

The conformity of St. Francis with Jesus the Christ was made visible only two years before his death. What began in his heart at San Damiano (Go Francis rebuild my Church, for as you can see it is falling into ruin) was visibly imprinted on his body for the world to see and reflect upon years later on Mount La Verna.


The stages of this process/journey are traditionally referred to as the purgative, illuminative, and unitive ways. Terminology may differ, but the gradual transformation follows the same order. St. Augustine reminds us, when speaking to God in his Confessions: You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you. The “restlessness” initiates a dialogue with God that leads to a more profound awareness of our relationship with Him.  God’s word penetrates more deeply than a two-edged sword (Hebrews 4: 12). A difficulty often encountered is recognizing and understanding God Who speaks to our hearts. Our response is vital. It determines whether we continue along the road offered or seek another path. God breathed us into life and created us to the image and likeness (cfr.Genesis 1: 26) of Himself. The image remains alive and develops as we cooperate with grace.

Thus: A journey of a thousand miles begins with a small step. Immeasurably more than a thousand miles is life’s journey from time to eternity. We must set priorities, overcome obstacles, and trust enough to let go of fear.  Fear is useless. What is needed is faith (Mark 5: 36). Do we understand the gift of being alive as God’s gift to Himself and to us? Have we ever considered the fact that if we are that “gift”, we must share our gifts with others who themselves are “gifts”. Even the height of “conformity” to Jesus, is not solely for the gifted one, but intended to encourage others on the road to divine intimacy.

The Cross, always seen as a symbol of hatred and death, is also a sign of love, hope and challenging transformation. The cross indicates, embraces, determines, explains, challenges, nourishes, fills, fulfills, calls, distances, and much more.The cross elevates and presents to the whole world the depth of God’s love in Jesus, His Incarnate Son. Viewing and accepting the events and encounters of our lives, from the perspective of the cross of Christ, leads us to a greater conformity with Christ. The “one-ness” we desire, according to our collaboration with grace, conditions us to be prepared for God to enter a mystical union with us, should God so will. This is for anyone, but definitely for the one blessed with the charism (gift) to live as a witness for everyone.

The early years of St. Francis’ life journey spoke to him so candidly of the power riches wield over others. He experienced how easily we are possessed and controlled by our wealth and possessions. He saw how often society distances and rejects its own who have fallen into dire straits of any kind. He was paralyzed by his own fear of lepers, a fear that haunted him until he embraced the leper on the road and overcame the last hurdle he needed to overcome in order to let go and let God form him into the new man the old having passed away (cfr.  Corinthians, Romans, 1 John, and others). Realizing, understanding, accepting and responding to the challenge of “being Jesus” – being a “living Gospel” – St. Francis took the road of conformity to Christ more deliberately.

The Little Poor Man became the “Universal Brother”. He embodied the image of a Christ Whose cross as a symbol of total giving for the sake of the other, was the support of his life. The cross of the naked crucified Jesus was a vivid reminder to him of those “crucified” each day by the distorted values of society. Like the image of the Byzantine Christ of San Damiano the poor are nailed to their crosses yet they are fully alive to the demands of a world that fails to acknowledge their value as equals. It is the contradiction of the cross: image of hatred indicates love, image of death indicates life. It is a love that overcomes hatred and violence (Pope Francis).

Francis, whom is it better to serve the master or the servant? The Master, Lord. Then why do you run after the servant. Return home. The “dialogue” with the God within his very soul encouraged him to face humiliation, criticism, parental punishment and public ridicule of being a coward so that he might surrender to God rather than his dreams of a confused greatness. Until we break with what keeps us bound, we are still a slave. The Seraphic Mother, St. Theresa of Avila, tells us that whether it be with a cord or a thread as long as a bird does not break the bond that keeps it from flying away, the bird is still bound.

Unless we break with what keeps us from letting go, we are still a “prisoner”.  The “old self” is not necessarily evil. We often become prisoners of complacency, and that keeps us from becoming better or even the best we can be. That is what “perfection” is all about.  Faith reminds us that perfection is achieving the purpose for which we were created. You are who you are before God and nothing more (St. Francis), The acceptance of this truth is a most liberating awareness. Thus, with St. Clare, we can gratefully say: Thank you, God, for creating me.  

Grateful and available to God introduces us to a journey that accompanies us to total “Journey into God”. “Oneness” with God brightens our every moment: good, less good, challenging, and so on. Regardless of the external challenges, the heart is at peace. St. Francis’ early life and the individuals who opened his eyes and heart to the Christ within them – beggar, knight, leper, and others – encouraged detachment, selflessness, and unconditional love beyond his greatest fear. It is the agony of Gethsemane by participation: Father if it is possible, let this chalice pass from me. However, not my will but Yours be done.  (Matthew 26: 39) 

Running through the streets of Assisi with his friends Francis began feeling a tension to something else, something more, Someone better. The secret affection and love he was beginning to feel for the “love of his life” confused him and took hold of his heart. The struggle and confusion, the fear and final “plunge” into the baptism of a new life created the new man, the old having passed away, a new creation (2 Corinthians: 5: 17) The tension to “live” or “die”,  is the story of most sincere people. It is the challenge of the cross. The challenge of the cross directs our spiritual sights from bottom to top vertically and our horizontal awareness of what surrounds. The conjunction of the two beams is Christ. In Him we find balance in our lives. The Cross maintains everything in the perspective of eternity and accompanies us on our journey through time to eternity.

During prayer before the Byzantine Crucifix of San Damiano, St. Francis heard a voice addressed to him: Francis, go and repair my Church, which, as you can see, is falling into ruin. The message was clear enough. How was he to do this? There were still hurdles to overcome. Growing requires moving forward and leaving things of the past in the past. We break with the “way it was” and move forward to “the way it must be”. Now Francis’ vision of life was seen and decided in the light of the “voice of God” he heard.  He was beginning to understand the more intimate yearnings of his heart and soul.

St. Francis knew and believed God was leading him. Nonetheless, he needed strength and decisiveness to go beyond the “line of demarcation”. We could even call it the “red line”. It placed him at odds with so many, including his loved ones. The first move in the direction of conformity is a wrestling match, not with God but within ourselves. The first big step into the “wholeness of perfection” can be painful and confusing. The cross is vivid and true, and can be frightening.

On the feast of the Apostles, Mass was being celebrated in the Portiuncula Chapel. The celebrant read the Gospel. The words struck Francis so deeply that he requested the priest explain them to him.  On receiving the explanation Francis’ reply was This is what I want. This is what I desire with all my heart. The goal of his heart now empowered his desires to will with all his heart and strength to walk the walk of intimacy with God. The focus of his life would always be the Cross, sign of the sublimity and humility of God. These words expressed the condescension of compassion (St. Leo the Great) at the Incarnation, birth, ministry, Passion-Death-Resurrection, and the Eucharist. At each moment the greatest of all God’s children, loved by St. Francis and always in his heart, is present. She is there with Her “yes” to the impossible to the foot of Cross to Her “yes” to the unthinkable and horrific ingratitude, to the joy of new life at the Resurrection.

Focus on the Crucified. The love of Jesus enlightens us to see more clearly who we really are. We are impassioned to love Him more dearly, empowered to follow Him unconditionally, almost as His “other self” if that were possible.  We learn to Love that continues loving (Hymn Pescador). Surrendering ourselves to the One Who surrendered Himself for us on the Cross leads to a growth in the spirit and a conversion of heart thus making Easter a true Resurrection Day.

We fail so often to surrender ourselves to God Who speaks to us in and through His Word and His Church. Love is expressed fully in the total surrender of those who surrender to each other totally and unconditionally without counting the cost. Total surrender allows us to investigate and question, without doubting. Total surrender strengthens us when we are suffering or burdened, so that we persevere in trust. Total surrender gives us courage in the face of persecution of any kind and even death, with serenity, peace and joy. There is so much that we could enumerate, but the basic truth that makes the rest meaningful is as the Apostle John states in his letter: God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him (1 John 4: 16). Isn’t that what conformity and mystical union is? We become, as it were, the Other.

The first followers of our Seraphic Father were known as ‘The Penitents of Assisi’.  The true spirit of penance guides us during this season that seeks to help us be more conformed to Christ and the Paschal Mystery.  The moment of our Baptism begins the road of conformity to Christ, gradually, through life, with the help of the Holy Spirit. Penance is a gradual liberating experience that leads us to a “re-forming” in the person of Jesus, as we strive to live the Gospel – “Live Jesus” – each day more deeply. During Lent the Church us to take more time to reflect on God’s words and inspirations, to do the necessary to reform our doubtful, questionable, or even grace-less ways we may have acquired, so that we may renew our lives becoming more like Jesus. Thus, we may re-establish a deeper relationship with God and all creation. 

This is a season of joy-filled expectations. We live in the awareness of the reality of the Death and Resurrection of Jesus.  ‘Reconstruction’ and re-birth are for those who seriously take advantage of the spiritual opportunities available.

Lent can lead us, who seek to be conformed to Christ as best we can, to a renewal, of the ‘edifice of the Spirit’, ‘the Temple of God’ that we are ‘. We come alive’ in the Resurrection of Christ Jesus and our greater conformity to Him. Spiritually signed with the Sacred Marks of His Passion on our hearts and soul, the power of God’s loving grace allows us to truly become the “Alleluia People” we are called to be..

May God bless you; may Our Lady and  good St. Joseph guide, guard, and protect you; and may our Seraphic Father St. Francis of Assisi and our Mother St. Clare of Assisi look over each one of us, their spiritual children, with loving care.


Peace and Blessings
Fr. Francis A. Sariego, O.F.M. Cap.

Regional Spiritual Assistant

Saint Katharine Drexel Region Feast Day Prayer (March 3rd)

A Prayer Service for St. Katharine Drexel – March 3

(Canonized October 1, 2000)

Leader: Let us pray…

Ever loving God, You called Saint Katharine Drexel to teach the message of the Gospel and to bring the life of the Eucharist to the Black and Native American peoples. By her prayers and example, enable us to work for justice among the poor and oppressed. Draw us all into the Eucharistic community of your Church, that we may be one in You. Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Side 1: Eucharist

The Eucharist is a never-ending sacrifice.  It is the Sacrament of love, the supreme love, the act of love.  Help us each moment today and always to communicate myself to You by doing Your will.  – Saint Katharine Drexel

Brief pause for reflection

Saint Katharine Drexel, lover of the Eucharist, pray for us


We look up in wonder at God’s wonderful ways and thought how little we imagine what may be the result of listening and acting on a desire He puts into the heart.  Nourish before Him great desires…May our desire be to bring Him hearts, for all are His by right, having been purchased by every drop of His blood.  – Saint Katharine Drexel

Brief pause for reflection

Saint Katharine Drexel, model for those who evangelize, pray for us.

Side 1:  PEACE

Peacefully do at each moment what at that moment ought to be done.  If we do what each moment requires, we will eventually complete God’s plan, whatever it is.  We can trust God to take care of the master plan when we take care of the details.  – Saint Katharine Drexel

Brief pause for reflection

Saint Katharine Drexel, steadfast in trust, pray for us.


Kindness is the natural fruit of goodness of heart.  He (Jesus) loved every human being as the image of God…and so all that came within range of His benevolence were treated kindly for God’s sake and their own.  – Saint Katharine Drexel

Brief pause for reflection

Saint Katharine Drexel, lover of the poor, pray for us.


Often in our desire to work for others we find our hands tied, something hinders our charitable designs, some hostile influence renders us powerless.  My prayers seem to avail nothing, my kind acts are rejected, I seem to do the wrong thing when I am trying to do my best.  In such cases I must not grieve.  I am only treading in my Master’s steps.  – Saint Katharine Drexel

Brief pause for reflection

Saint Katharine Drexel, follower of the suffering Christ, pray for us.

Side 2:  THE CROSS

(Christ) may be leading me out to a cross.  If so, I can have no hesitation about following Him!  I must follow Him closely, so that…I shall be near Him, my good Shepherd, Who will help me to carry it, for He still bears His Cross in each one of His children.  – Saint Katharine Drexel

Brief pause for reflection

Saint Katharine Drexel, bearer of the cross, pray for us.


Teach us, O my dear Mother, the lesson of sacrifice.  Help me, Mother, to take from the hands of Jesus, in the spirit of humble love, devotion to my daily crosses. – Saint Katharine Drexel

Brief pause for reflection

Saint Katharine Drexel, daughter of Mary, pray for us.


Out of our common todays and yesterdays, we are building for eternity.  No thought, no work of ours ever dies.  We shall meet them all again, and in the world to come shall find our gathered harvest.  – Saint Katharine Drexel

Brief pause for reflection

Saint Katharine Drexel, woman of vision, pray for us.


The active life to be productive must have contemplation.  When it (contemplation) gets to a certain height it overflows to active life and gets help and strength from the heart of God.  This is the way the saints produced so much fruit, and we’re all called to be saints.  – Saint Katharine Drexel

Brief pause for reflection

Saint Katharine Drexel, model for the union of prayer and work, pray for us.


We wish to be one who conscientiously takes part in the unfolding of God’s plans, and eventually have a glorious part in the final unfolding of time into the glory of God’s Kingdom in heaven.  If we are disciples of Jesus, we shall be happy to spend ourselves and be spent for the salvation of souls.  – Saint Katharine Drexel

Brief pause for reflection

ALL: Saint Katharine Drexel, pray for us.


Edited/Captured from the St. Katharine Drexel Church (Mechanicsburg, PA) Website – Prayer and Novena

Cindy Louden, OFS (Vice Minister, SKD Regional Council & Minister, Living Word Fraternity

March 3, 2024

Joyful Gospel Living – February 2024


Brothers and sisters,

At our Region’s November gathering, we distributed Franciscan Solitude calendars to the Fraternity Ministers and Formation Directors to provide Franciscan inspiration for 2024.

For the month of February, the picture was of the sanctuary of La Foresta in the Rieti Valley, a place very special to St. Francis.  The calendar urged us to read Chapter XIX of the Little Flowers of St. Francis.  In many respects, this story is similar to the loaves and fishes, requiring patience and faith when our senses are challenged.  A great crowd had followed Francis to this property where grapes had been planted.  The host priest had doubts that the grape crop could survive this great crowd.  This story is a powerful reminder to us of how we must place our trust in God.  I would like to share some of my photos with you from my 2019 pilgrimage to La Foresta as you read the story; the last photo is from the calendar…

Little Flowers of St. Francis – Chapter XIX


St Francis at one time being grievously tormented with a disease in his eyes, the Cardinal Ugolino, protector of his Order, who loved him dearly, wrote to him to come to Rieti, where there were excellent oculists. St Francis, having received the Cardinal’s letter, set off first to San Damiano, where was Sister Clare, the devout spouse of Christ, to give her some spiritual consolation, intending afterwards to go on to the Cardinal. On arriving at San Damiano, the following night his eyes grew so much worse that he could not see the light, and was obliged to give up going any further. Then Sister Clare made him a little cell of reeds, in order that he might repose the better; but St Francis, owing partly to the pain he suffered, and partly to the multitude of rats, which much annoyed him, could rest neither day or night.

After suffering for several days this pain and tribulation, he began to think that it was sent to him by God as a punishment for his sins, and he thanked the Lord in his heart and with his lips, crying out with a loud voice: “My God, I am worthy of this, and even worse. My Lord Jesus Christ, thou Good Shepherd, who hast shown thy mercy to us poor sinners in the various bodily pains and sufferings it pleaseth thee to send us; grant to me, thy little lamb, that no pain, however great, no infirmity nor anguish, shall ever separate me from thee.” Having made this prayer, a voice came from heaven, which said: “Francis, if all the earth were of gold, if all the seas and all the fountains and all the rivers were of balm, if all mountains, all hills, and all rocks were made of precious stones, and if thou couldst find a treasure as much more precious again as gold is more precious than earth, and balm than water, and gems than mountains and rocks, if that precious treasure were offered to thee in the place of thy infirmity, wouldst thou not rejoice and be content?” St Francis answered: “Lord, I am unworthy of such a treasure.” And the voice of God said again: “Rejoice with all thy heart, Francis, for such a treasure is life eternal, which I have in keeping for thee, and even now promise to thee; and this thine infirmity and affliction is a pledge of that blessed treasure.”

Then was St Francis filled with joy at so glorious a promise; and calling his companion, he said to him: “Let us go to the Cardinal.” He humbly took leave of Sister Clare, after having comforted her with holy words, and took the road to Rieti. When he approached the town, such a multitude came out to meet him, that he would not go into the city, but went to a church which was about two miles of. But the people, hearing where he was gone, went thither to see him; so that the vine which surrounded the church was greatly injured, and all the grapes were gathered; at which the priest, to whom it belonged, was very grieved in his heart, and repented of having received St Francis in his church. The thought of the priest being revealed to the saint, he called him to him and said: “Dearest father, tell me, how many measures of wine does this vine produce when the year is a fertile one?” He answered: “Twelve measures.”

Then said St Francis: “I pray thee, father, have patience and endure my presence here a few days longer, as I find great rest in this church; and, for the love of God and of me his poor servant, let the people gather the grapes off thy vine; for I promise thee, in the name of my Savior Jesus Christ, that it shall produce every year twenty measures of wine.” And St Francis remained there for the benefit of the souls of all who went to see him, for many went away filled with divine love, and gave up the world. The priest, having faith in the promise of St Francis, left the vineyard open to all those who came to see him. And, wonder of wonders! although the vine was entirely ruined, so that there scarcely remained, here and there, a few small bunches of grapes, when the time of vintage arrived, the priest gathered the few bunches which were left, and put them into the winepress; and according to the promise of St Francis, these few little bunches did not fail to produce twenty measures of excellent wine.

This miracle teaches us that as, in consequence of the merits of St Francis, the vine, though despoiled of its grapes, produced an abundance of wine, so in the same way many Christians, whose sins had made them barren of virtue, through the saint’s preaching and merits, have often come to abound in the good fruit of repentance.

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Let us find strength and joy in this story no matter what challenges we face in our daily lives!

Peace and all good,

Teresa S. Redder, OFS

St. Katharine Drexel Regional Minister