THE JOY OF GETTING IT RIGHT
WHERE: SAINT JOSEPH OBLATES SEMINARY
1880 Highway 315, Laflin, PA 18640
DATE: SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 12TH
TIME: 9:00 A.M. – 3:00 P.M.
PRESENTERS: ROSE VIRAGH, OFS
STEPHAINIE WIECER, OFS
RSVP: BY OCTOBER 24TH to
Rose Viragh, OFS
This is a “brown bag lunch” event, so please bring your lunch with you. A continental breakfast will be provided as well as beverages for lunch. A free will offering will be taken to help defray the cost of the day.
Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. But how can they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how can they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And can they hear without someone to preach? And how can people preach unless they are sent? Romans 10: 13-15
Pour out your Spirit, so that I might be strengthened to go forth and witness to the Gospel in my everyday life through my words and actions.
In moments of hesitation, remind me:
If not me, then who will proclaim the Gospel?
If not now, then when will the Gospel be proclaimed?
If not the truth of the Gospel, then what shall I proclaim?
We have been sent. The day we said “Yes, this is what I want”, the Lord sent us out. It is probably no further than your own home, neighborhood, church, work place. During this Year of Mercy, how about shaking it up a little? Bring something new to the table. Maybe make a greater effort to be God’s mercy to someone in desperate need of it.
The Lord resides within you. We all believe that. But why is He there? Not just because He loves you, but to be present to other people. You are the instrument. You are extending God’s hand in comfort every time you put your arm around someone in need. You are God’s joy every time you smile at someone or say something nice. You are God’s love every time you wipe away someone’s tears. No one understood this better than St. Francis. Make me a channel of your peace, not give me peace. Let me provide peace to other people. St. Francis also said: Preach the Gospel, use words if necessary. We are constant examples to those around us.
There are so many ways to do small things with great love. It’s more than just comforting someone in need or lifting up the spirits of someone who is ‘down’. How about not dragging someone down by gossiping, telling them how terrible someone else is, being a constant critic. It’s much easier to comfort another person than to look at ourselves to see what damage we are doing. It is the harder path to take. But imagine what a gift it would be to St. Francis for him to see us at least try.
We evangelize by wearing our Tau cross – telling the world we have chosen this path. But then do we act as if we are the Lord’s agents on this earth? In this year of mercy, let us ask to be better Franciscans and all the rest will fall into place! I wish you much joy!
Let us desire nothing else, let us wish for nothing else,
let nothing else please us and cause us delight, except our Creator and redeemer and Savior,
the one true God, Who is fullness of Good, all Good, every Good, the true and Supreme Good,
Who alone is merciful and gentle, delectable and sweet, Who alone is holy, just and true, holy and right,
Who alone is kind, innocent, pure, from Whom and through Whom and in Whom
is all pardon, all grace, all glory … Therefore, let nothing hinder us, nothing separate us or come between us.
Let us all, wherever we are …
Glorify and exalt, magnify and give thanks to the Most High and supreme eternal God ..
(Saint Francis of Assisi)
Following are excerpts taken from: A Letter on the Passing of Saint Francis (attributed to Elias of Assisi)
Daily reflections are taken from various sources
Before I begin to speak, I sigh, and rightly so… For what I reared has overtaken me and has overtaken you. What I dreaded has happened to me and to you. Our consoler has gone away from us and he who carried him in his arms like lambs has gone on a journey to a far off country. – God is with you, God is within you, dwell for a moment in God’s presence.
He who was beloved of God and of man, who taught Jacob the law of life and of discipline, and gave to Israel a covenant of peace has been received into the most resplendent of dwellings. We would rejoice exceedingly on his account, yet for our own part we must mourn, since in his absence darkness surrounds us and the shadow of death covers us. – Holiness is where we are.
It is a loss for all, yet it is a trial singularly my own, for he has left me in the midst of darkness, surrounded by many anxieties and pressed me down by countless afflictions. For this reason mourn with me, brothers…For we are orphans without our father and bereaved of the light of our eyes. – If you have the virtue of obedience you have all the other virtues.
(Taken from the later part of the Letter of Elias) On the fourth day before the nones of October, the Lord’s day, at the first hour of the preceding light, our father and brother went to Christ. I am sure dearest brothers, that when this letter reaches you, you will follow the footprints of the people of Israel as they mourned the loss of their great leaders, Moses and Aaron. Let us, by all means, give way to tears for we are deprived of so great a father. – From silly devotions and sour-faced saints, may the good Lord deliver us!
The presence of our brother and father Francis was a light … He was a light shed by the true light to give light to those who were in darkness and sitting in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace… The true Daystar from on high shone upon his heart and enkindles his will with the fire of His love. – Union with God is perfect when our will has become free of all things and clings to God alone.
By preaching the kingdom of God and turning the hearts of fathers to their children and the rebellious to then wisdom of the just, he prepared for the Lord a new people in this world. His name reached distant coasts and all lands were in awe at his marvelous deeds. – The best way of praying is the way in which you can pray the most fervently.
Do not mourn beyond measure. God, the father of orphans, will give us comfort by his holy consolation. If you weep, brothers, weep for yourselves and not fr him. In the midst of life we are caught in death, while he has passed from death to life. – Do not allow aridities in prayer to trouble you, for perfection does not consist in having delights but in possessing virtue.
Rejoice, for like another Jacob, he blessed all his sons before he was taken from us and forgave them all the faults which any one of us might have committed, or even thought of committing, against him. – Devotion is devotedness: lifting our thoughts to God, loving Him, living with Him.
And now, after telling you these things, I announce to you a great joy and the news of a miracle. Such a sign that has
never been heard of from the dawn of time except in the Son of God, who is Christ the Lord. – No heart can ever be empty when God is in it. And He will always be in the heart when we pray!
Not long before his death, our brother and father appeared crucified, bearing in his body the five wounds which are truly the marks of Christ. His hands and his feet had as it were the openings of the nails and were pierced front and back revealing the scars and showing the nails’ blackness. His side, moreover, seemed opened by a lance and often emitted blood. – If there has been any good in me, and if any fruit has grown from my littleness, it was due entirely to the help of the grace of God.
As long as his spirit lived in the body, there was no beauty in him for his appearance was that of a man despised. No part of his body was without great suffering. – To do good without God’s help is as im possible as to make the sun shine at night.
His limbs were stiff, much like those of a dead man. But after his death, his appearance was one of great beauty gleaming with dazzling whiteness and giving joy to all who looked upon him. – God is a generous spender, tossing the coins of His grace everywhere with Divine abandon.
His limbs, which had been rigid, became marvelously soft and pliable, so that they would be turned this way and that, like those of a child. Therefore, brothers, bless the God of heaven and earth and praise Him before all, for He has shown His mercy to us. – Grace ignored ultimately means grace withheld, grace repudiated, grace denied.
Hold fast the memory of our father and brothers, Francis, to the praise and glory of Him Who made him so great among people and gave him glory in the sight of angels. – Self-reform is impossible, at least difficult and disheartening, without sel-knowledge.
Pray for him, as he begged us, and pray to him that God may make us share with him in his holy grace. Amen. – Knowledge of self is a life-long study. It embraces all that is ours…enlightened by faith.
Indeed, it is in keeping with our love for him that we rejoice with Francis. Still, it is right to mourn him! It belongs to us to rejoice with Francis, for he has not died but gone to the fair in heaven… – Lord, grant that I may know You, grant that I may know myself.
At the same time, it is right for us to weep for Francis. He who came and went among us, as did Aaron, who brought forth from his storehouse bot the new and the old and comforted us in all our afflictions, has been taken from our midst. Now we are like orphans without a father. – A saint is person like us who gets what he wants by working for it…a life-time.
Because it is written, the poor depend on you and you are the helper of orphans, all of you dearest brothers, must earnestly pray that, though this earthen jar has been broken in the valley of Adam’s children, the Most High Potter will deign to repair and restore another of similar honor, who will rule over the multitude of our race and go before us in battle like a true Maccabee. – We must speak to those in need with our hands before we speak to them with our lips.
Francis the servant and friend of the Most High, founder and leader of the Order of Lesser Brothers, the practitioner of poverty, the model of penance, the herald of truth, the mirror of holiness, and exemplar of all Gospel perfection, foreordained by grace from heaven, in ordered progression, from the lowest level arrived at the very heights. – The shortest road to heaven is the way of the cross.
The Lord made incomparably more brilliant in death this marvelous man, whom he had made marvelously bright in life… – To persevere bravely in spite of the lack of sweetness and relish in prayer – this is the sign of the spirit of God.
(He made him) rich in poverty, exalted in humility, vigorous in mortification, ,prudent in simplicity, distinguished in the integrity of life. – Holiness is a process of slow steady and growth: of trying, failing, trying, failing, and still undaunted, trying again.
After this blessed man left the world, that sacred spirit … left certain signs of future glory imprinted on his body; so that his holy flesh … bore the likeness of Christ’s passion by a singular privilege and would offer by the newness of a miracle a glimpse of the resurrection. – We cannot become good by wishing for it but by working for it.
In his blessed hands and feet could be seen the nails that had been marvelously fashioned by divine power of his flesh, and thus embedded in the flesh. – If we are to reach heaven by a devout life, sky-gazing and daydreaming will not help. We must come down to earth, plant our feet firmly on the ground, and take one step at a time, like a child learning how to walk.
The wound in his side could be clearly seen, which was not inflicted on his body nor produced by human means; it was like the wound in the Savior’s side… – The most crippling obstacle to holiness is our expecting too much too soon…A great saint said: I shall be very happy if I am free of all imperfections only fifteen minutes before I die.
His sons were weeping at the loss of so lovable a father but were filled withy no little joy while they kissed the seal marks of the Supreme King in him. – God who has promised pardon to the penitent sinner, has nowhere promised him who delays his conversion a tomorrow to do penance in.
So unique and so remarkable was the sight to all who observed it that it confirmed their faith and incited their love. – If we are determined to do good and become holy, if tomorrow, why not now!
When the people heard of the passing of our blessed father and news of the miracle had spread, they hurried to the place to see with their own eyes so that they could dispel all doubt and add joy to their love. – Too late have I loved You, O Beauty ever ancient and ever new, too late have I loved You.
A great number of the citizens of Assisi were admitted to contemplate the sacred marks with their own eyes and to kiss them with their lips. – Without penance we shall never advance beyond mediocrity.
The venerable father left the shipwreck of this world in the 1226th year of the Incarnation of the Lord, on the fourth day of the nones of October, a Saturday evening, and was buried on Sunday. Immediately, the holy man began to reflect the light radiating from the face of God … – Too many people are curious to know the lives of others, but careless to amend their own.
in different parts of the world, his glorious miracles and the abundant benefits obtained through him, inflamed many to devotion to Christ and incited them to reverence for his saint. – Without repentance there will be nom reform of self; without reform of self there will be no progress in virtue; and without progress in virtue we shall never come closer to God.
The wonderful things which God was working through his servant Francis – acclaimed by word of mouth and testified to by facts – came to the ears of the Supreme Pontiff, Gregory IX…(who) was fully convinced of Francis’ remarkable holiness: not only from hearing of the miracles after his death, but also from his own experience during his life…He had no doubt that Francis was glorified in heaven by the Lord … – Live the Gospel without compromise, live like Christ…
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: email@example.com
Dear Sisters and Brothers in St. Francis,
The Lord give you his peace!
Two years before his death, already very sick and suffering especially from his eyes, (St. Francis ) was living in a cell made of mats near San Damiano. … During his stay, for fifty days and more, blessed Francis could not bear the light of the sun during the day or the light of the fire at night. He constantly remained in darkness in his cell … One night, as he was thinking of all the tribulations he was enduring, he felt sorry for himself and prayed interiorly: ‘ Lord help me in my infirmities so that I may have the strength to bear them patiently”… (A voice spoke to him and said): …be glad and joyful in the midst of your infirmities and tribulations; as of now, live in peace as if you were already sharing my kingdom”… The next morning on rising, he said to his companions: … I should be full of joy in my infirmities and tribulations, seek my consolations in the Lord, and give thanks to God the Father, to His Only Son Our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the Holy Spirit … Therefore, for His glory, for my consolation, and the edification of my neighbor, I wish to compose a new “Praises of the Lord,” for His creatures … He called these “Praises of the Lord” which opened with the words: “Most high all-powerful, and good Lord, the “Canticle of the Sun”… He often intoned this canticle and had his companions take it up; in that way he forgot the intensity of his sufferings and pains by considering the glory of the Lord. He did this until the day of his death. (Legend of Perugia, 42-43)
The Poverello of Assisi was one of the wealthiest persons to ever live. His wealth went far beyond the treasures that human beings consider desirable. The power he wielded over thousands of his day and millions over the centuries make him also one of the most influential and effective individuals to ever live. He was simple, surely not what the authoritative and commanding seek. He was poorly dressed, surely not what attracts the people of this world. He was not much to look at, surely not a figure that imposed himself by physical stature. He had a basic education for his times, surely not an intellectual ‘giant’ to dialogue with the ‘learned’ and prominent of his day. He had not bands of armed guards and militant forces, surely not what the dominant forces sought out. What he had was a ‘treasure’ that far surpasses all others: He was a man in love with God, and God’s image and presence in all creation; he was passionately in love with life. His spirit was contagious. Many originally considered him out of his mind, most believed him to be eccentric, but all eventually recognized the uniqueness of a soul in love with God, life and all people. Our Seraphic Father, St. Francis of Assisi, is a constant reminder and image of a life in love with Life.
In the beginning, when God created the heavens and the earth … God said, ‘Let there be…’And so it happened. God looked at everything He had made, and He found it very good. (Genesis 1: 1-30) The Lord God formed man out of the clay of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and so man became a living being. (Genesis 2:7) Life is the first gift of God’s Eternal Love. Goodness, of its very nature, cannot be contained; it must overflow limits set and reach out in all directions. Eternal Goodness offers the greatest gift of Himself: the gift of being. During a lifetime conditioned and limited by time, we who share the ‘breath of God’, His Holy Spirit, enter a journey that leads us from living in the mystery on earth to living its fulfilment in eternity. In Christ Jesus we recognize Him Who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. What seemingly begins as a merely natural process is now transformed into a ‘Journey of Faith’ that places us in a relationship with our Creator and eternal Life-giving Father, Who continues to ‘breathe’ His Holy Spirit into our hearts, because of the Redemptive Life-Death-Resurrection of His Incarnate Son, Jesus, Who made the Father ‘real’ for us.
Men and women are on a journey of discovery which is humanly unstoppable – a search for the truth and a search for a person to whom they might entrust themselves. Christian faith comes to meet them, offering the concrete possibility of reaching the goal which they seek. (Pope St. John Paul II – Relationship Between Faith and Reason, Encyclical of September 14, 1998). Life is that period of time we have been allotted to know, love, and serve our God both in Himself and in each other. We follow Jesus Who invites us to walk this journey of faith as ‘pilgrims and strangers’. St. Francis of Assisi’s ‘Canticle of the Creatures’ is his prayer of praise to God Who can be seen in all creation, and at every moment of life’s journey. Many ‘cradle Catholics’ often take their Christianity too much for granted. There is a tendency to forget that external religious practices, to be authentic, must be an expression of the greater gift of Faith in fused at Baptism and to which they are called to be convinced and committed. Faith is not a list of dogmas to believe, but a Person to accept and follow. Faith, strengthened through Scripture, Tradition and the Magisterium of the Church, accompanies and encourages life, in the midst of a world that hears the words of Jesus but often closes its heart to the message that must be personally accepted and lived to be effective and fruitful. Although we are all called to be saved, there is no such thing as ‘global salvation’. Jesus died for all humanity and His redemption is once-for-all; it is ‘global’ in that sense. However, it is the personal responsibility of each individual to cooperate with the graces he/she receives from the Redemptive Sacrificial Blood of Jesus poured out for us all, if that person hopes to be ‘saved’ and share in Eternal Life.
St. Francis’ desire to live the Gospel ‘without gloss’ is his way of reminding us that Jesus’ words must be taken to heart and lived. We cannot just believe and not do. Faith that stands, and is not backed up with a life that verifies the ‘principles’ and ‘values’ preached, is nothing more than an intellectual exercise of themes and slogans. Faith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead. Demonstrate your faith to me without works, and I will demonstrate my faith to you from my works. (James 2: 17-18)
Our journey of faith begins in the accounts of the Old Testament Scriptures with the call of Abraham, when he responded in faith to God’s urging to leave Ur of the Chaldeans. Abraham may not have completely understood his unique relationship with God and the role he was called to fulfill, nonetheless he had all the necessary elements for faith. He promptly responded ‘yes’ to God’s call, a divine call that more often than not turned Abraham’s own plans upside down. Abraham was even ready to offer his only son to God, against all human logic and expectations for the future. Faith believes and gives one’s self to God unconditionally. Even when God seems to be ‘absent’ from us, in faith we sense an unexplainable presence and strength leading us through and beyond the limits that our difficulties and doubts place in the way. It is this faith that becomes a power house working and welling up within us. It is this faith that becomes the very root of our daily life. Our life becomes an act of faith.
Faith reaches its fulfillment in the New Testament in the Son of God Who manifested Himself and proclaimed the kingdom of God. This proclamation of God’s will and invitation to believe requires the same response as that of Abraham, our ‘Father in Faith’. This acceptance is a decisive act of a loving will that moves our human minds to look beyond the expected human calculations and to trust totally in God. Faith is not an intellectual acceptance of a number of abstract facts; it is an unconditional acceptance of a person, God, as we have come to know Him in the Person of Jesus the Christ. Faith accepts God Who proposes His love for Christ Who died and was raised from the dead. Faith is obedience to God, communion with Him, openness to all God reveals because He can neither deceive nor be deceived. Faith opens our eyes to see life from the perspective of eternity and God’s love. Our own Seraphic Father, when confronted with friars who had decided to mitigate his expectations for the Order, heard God asking and reminding him that the Order was God’s; he was not to worry if matters seemed not what he expected, as long as they followed God’s plans.
Faith becomes victory over the isolation we create in our lives when we close ourselves to the ‘Other’. Faith helps us to gratefully accept life as a marvelous experience. Filled with challenges that may try us to the limit of our strength, life is supported, nourished, and ennobled by a faith that trusts in an ever-loving and all-providing God. From the very beginning of our existence, God calls each one of us from the nothingness of ‘not being’ to an existence that bursts into time and is ultimately transformed into the immortal gift of unending Life for all.
We learn to live tranquilly, always, as regards our spirit, because God reigns supreme. Life is given to us in order for us to acquire the eternal. Due to a lack of reflection, we often base our affections on what pertains to the world through which we are passing, so that when we have to leave it, we are frightened and agitated. In order to live happily while on pilgrimage we must keep before our eyes the hope of arriving at our Homeland where we will stay for eternity. It is God who calls us to Himself, He watches how we make our way to Him, and will never permit anything to happen to us that is not for a greater good. He knows what we are. He offers His loving providence to us especially while we are going through rough stretches. Nothing will prevent us from running quickly to Him, but in order to receive this grace we must have total confidence in Him. Life is also a journey of trust.
One of the greatest Gospel witness we can give others as sisters and brothers in St. Francis of Assisi flows from living in the Presence of God. Truly convinced of this, we must be tranquil and at peace within ourselves because God is in control. We journey together, focused on the Lord Who calls us to share Life in our Eternal Homeland after having sought to restore all things in Christ during our earthly pilgrimage that should be a “Canticle of Praise” to the Lord for every facet of life. Each step we take is a step forward surrendering ourselves unconditionally to the ever-loving providence of God, Who never leaves His children unaided.
Pope John Paul II tells us that men and women are on a journey of discovery in search for the truth and a person. Words like these sound like some philosophical theme until we examine our hearts and realize how true and meaningful they are for our lives. Our Seraphic Father St. Francis encountered that ‘Person’, Jesus, on the Cross at San Damiano who impressed His words on his heart, then he met that ‘Person’ again at La Verna, Who impressed His ‘Word’ on his body. The living image of the Crucified spoke to the world of an emptying love that accepted life to die that me might enter Life.
Every life has its disconcerting events and fears. Even the greatest of saints had their difficulties. Many went through moments of spiritual darkness and dryness. They continued to believe and hope in God, encouraging and empowering others to be joy-filled in the midst of their challenges as well as their successes, while they themselves cried out to their ‘absent’ and Loving God who asked that they pass through the desolation of the Cross. Our Seraphic Father St. Francis of Assisi, Mother St. Teresa of Calcutta, Pope St. John Paul II, and many others whose lives we have come to know more intimately now that they have entered eternity, went through these moments. Faith and life walk hand-in-hand. It is our Faith that strengthens our spirit and nourishes our life. Jesus reminds us: It is the spirit that gives life … The words I have spoken to you are spirit and life. (John 6:63) When we allow the Spirit of Faith to fill our minds and hearts, when we accept the words of Jesus in truth, when we live today where God and we encounter one another … we live in hope, free from fear, trusting in divine providence that clears all intimidating imaginings from our minds and hearts. Peace, joy, and serenity become a reality. And, they become ‘contagious’ for those whom we encounter.
Spiritual Children of St. Francis of Assisi live every moment of life fully! The spirit of prayer that enveloped our Seraphic Father who ‘became prayer’ encourages us to pass through whatever crucible of life we encounter. Thus we become one with the Suffering Servant Who became One with us. Let us be grateful to God for the life He has called us to live, and make our prayer You are my God…I trust in You…be my refuge…I fear nothing…(for I seek to be in You as You are within me).
May God bless you; my Our Lady guide, guard, and protect you; and may our Seraphic Father, St. Francis of Assisi, look upon each one of you, his Spiritual Children, with loving care.
Peace and Blessings
Fr. Francis A. Sariego, O.F.M. Cap.
Regional Spiritual Assistant
Highlighting the Formation Workshop
It was a great joy to see so many brothers and sisters who attended the formation workshop. I called this workshop as a result of difficulties and problems in some fraternities in our Region.
Our first presenter, Stephanie Wiecer OFS, talked about the necessary guidelines that are our governing documents along with our formation resources that explain the process of formation and especially how Canon law dictates the universal law of the church following that law.
Being loving and compassionate to people coming into the order is very important; however, we must be aware of those Red Flags which would say to us that the person may not be a right fit for the Order. A few examples: those who refuse to go through formation because they were in a Religious order. We also know that they have to have a dispensation from the Order they were in. We must make sure that a person is fully initiated into the Catholic church and get a letter from their pastor that they are in good standing with the Catholic church. In addition to that we should get copies of the certificates issued when they received the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and Matrimony (if married) and if it applies, a copy of annulment papers. This should be done before the Inquiry phase or at least at the beginning of Orientation.
I also wanted to share with you the three quotes which I think are very important to all of us, that “Fraternity is a privileged place”, “Yes this is what I want” the words we promise at our Profession and important and most profound “a true nuptial alliance”
Do you believe that your fraternity is a privileged place” to gather with members to build up the Kingdom of God? Is participation in fraternal life essential?
We need to read and re-read Father Felice Cangelosi’s “The Profession in the SFO.” How profound, “a true nuptial alliance with Jesus Christ aimed at a further consecration to God, to accomplish a closer bond to the church to reach the perfection of love and realization of Francis mission.
Our Order by its very nature was constantly confirmed by the Sovereign Pontiffs (Benedict XV encyclical “Sacra Propedium”, On the Third Order of Saint Francis. Pope Pius Xll said Francis could be called “a second Christ”.)
Let us pray daily and reflect on our Franciscan vocation and spirituality to keep it fresh and enlivening and for our entire Order. (Resources: The Lark, newsletter St. Bonaventure frat. ,The Formation Workshop and Felice Cangelosi’s “The Profession in the SFO”)
We will be having a workshop hopefully on November 12th not the 19th said previously, there was a conflict in the calendar with the 19th. The place TBD STAY TUNED!
This will not just be for PA North but for those who could not make the first workshop in Hammonton, NJ. ALL ARE INVITED!!
Peace and every good,
Dear Brothers and Sisters, may the Lord give you peace! A few years ago, my parish merged with another local parish and we got a new pastor. Shortly after the merger, Labor Day weekend was upon us. Labor Day has several meanings – the “un”official end to summer, the last of the summer barbecues, the end of wearing white shoes and carrying a white purse – OK, I’m showing my age on that one! Having been married to a trucker/shop steward/union man, I also know that in the early 19th century, the Trade Unions and Labor movements asked to have a day set aside to celebrate labor. It’s easy to lose that meaning when we are enjoying that last grilled hot dog of the season.
That first Labor Day with the new pastor, changed my outlook completely. After the homily, he asked everyone attending Mass to come forward as they would when receiving Communion. When each of us approached Father, he asked that we stretch out our hands and he anointed them. He blessed the work of our hands for the coming year. It was very moving and of course, made you think.
What work would I do for the Lord in the coming year? How can I give that blessing away? And more than that, will I remember that my hands have been blessed to the Lord……..when I’m angry and gesturing at someone; when I’m throwing something out that could be recycled, when I sit on my hands as I’m being asked to accept a nomination?
This Labor Day, consider blessing your own hands to the Lord for the coming year. Ask St. Francis how your hands can be used to do Franciscan work and then be willing to listen! As in the picture above, remember one hand does not complete the picture.
At one time a tempted brother asked Francis to pray for him, the holy man said: Believe me, son, I believe you are more a servant of God because of this. No one, he said, should consider himself a servant of God until he has passed through temptations and tribulations… – We must work for peace and pray for peace.
A temptation overcome is like a ring which the Lord betroths the soul of his servant. Many flatter themselves over their many years of merit and rejoice at never having suffered any temptations. But sheer fright would knock them out before a battle even started. So they should know that the Lord has kept in kind their weakness of spirit. Hard fights are rarely fought except by those with the greatest strength. – Peace is above all a gift of God: it requires prayer.
And another brother was vexed for a long time by a temptation of the spirit, which is worse and more subtle that the prompting of the flesh. He came to Saint Francis … with bitter tears … The saint, however, realized that he was tormented by wicked spirits. I command, he said, from this moment stop assailing my brother. Immediately the brother became free. – The soul that lives in habitual contact with God … knows how to guard without difficult against the temptation of particularism and opposition, which create the risk of painful divisions.
Tempted himself, he learned to suffer with those who were sometimes tempted. For at times he endured a very great temptation of the flesh … At another time a very serious temptation of spirit came upon him … because of it he was filled with anguish and sorrow … He was under attack in this way for several years … – The Eucharist is placed at the center of the life of the great human family.
One day while praying at Saint Mary of the Portiuncula, he heard in spirit a voice: Francis, if you had faith like a mustard seed, you would tell the mountain to move from here, and it would move … The mountain is your temptation. And (Francis) said, sobbing: Lord, be it done to me as you have said. At once, the whole temptation was driven away, he was set free. – The Eucharist is the great instrument for bringing men closer to one another.
He used to tell (his brothers): As you announce peace with your mouth, may you keep it in your heart, thus no one will be provoked to anger or scandal, but rather to kindness and gentleness. For we have been called to this: to cure the wounded, to bind up the broken, and to recall the erring. Many who seem to us to be members of the devil, will yet be disciples of Christ. – God becomes converted to us through the Cross of Christ.
To his brothers he would speak compassionately, not as a judge, but as a father to his children and a doctor to the sick … Great was his compassion toward the sick and great his concern for their needs … He was truly endowed with outstanding discernment and the grace of simplicity, so that with a true dove-like simplicity, he possessed the prudence of a serpent. – Let us open ourselves to God who wants to open himself to us.
He depended on the divine foresight according to the word he spoke to the Lord Pope who argued that it was difficult to live without possessions. My Lord, I trust in my Lord Jesus Christ. Since He has promised to give us life and glory in heaven, he will not deprive us of our bodily necessities when we need them on earth. – Conversion is before all else acceptance … (of) God in all the riches of his ‘conversion’ toward man.
He was well aware that the Lord took care of him even in the smallest matters … He did not want to be involved with the world through temporal things. – Christ says to the suffering person: ‘Come follow me!’
He responded (to the Bishop of Assisi regarding possessing nothing): Lord, if we had any possessions, we would need to have arms to protect them, because they cause many disputes and lawsuits. Possessions usually impede the love of God and neighbor. – The Church is built up through communion with the Son of God.
He would frequently say: As far as the brothers will withdraw from poverty, that far will the world withdraw from them. They owe the world an example, and the world owes the food they need. When the brothers withdraw good example, the world withdraws from them its support. – The most precious gift the Church can offer today’s disoriented and disquieted world is to form Christians who are securely and humbly joyous in their faith.
He wanted the brothers to be content with a few things, and not to possess these few things, whether places or things, as their own. He wanted to own nothing so that he could possess everything more fully in the Lord. – The Church is realized in the Sacrifice of Christ.
With the greatest zeal he cultivated poverty’s companion, the virtue of humility. Because of this he wanted the brothers to be clothed in a humble habit, girt with a rope, to be called Lesser Brothers, and never to exalted in this world. – Each of us must regard our own lives and the history of humanity in a certain way with the eyes of Mary.
Blessed Dominic … clung to Blessed Francis by such devotion that he most devotedly wore under is inner tunic a cord which he had given him, and said that he wished that Francis’ religion and his own could be one, and stated that he should be imitated for his holiness by other religious. – Everyone welcomes within himself the Word of God.
(Regarding the humility and charity between the two Fathers, the passage continues) Oh, how this humility and mutual charity of their Fathers must be imitated by their sons! Truly, it would be profitable to them and to God’s Church. – Let the soul of Mary be in everyone to magnify the Lord (St. Ambrose).
(Saint Francis) used to say: We have been sent to help clerics for the salvation of souls so that we may make up whatever may be lacking in them. Each shall receive a reward, not on account of authority, but because of the work done. Know then, brothers, that the good of souls is what pleases God most … – Let the spirit of Mary be in everyone to exult in the Lord (St. Ambrose).
As he thought humbly of himself, he was, in his own eyes, a great sinner, while actually he was in every was a mirror of holiness, and also a virgin in the flesh, as he revealed to that very holy man, Brother Leo, his confessor, and then disclosed to the General Minister. – If, according to the flesh, only one is the mother of Christ, according to the faith all souls generate Christ for everyone welcomes within him the Word of God. (St. Ambrose)
Virginal purity was fitting for flesh adorned with the sacred stigmata. If some ordinary people of the world, by the working of grace and nature, preserve the integrity of the flesh even to old age, who would wonder that Francis preserved it, when God was disposed to exalt him with such a grace? – Procreation is rooted in creation.
The holy man always insisted on progress in doing good, remembering that the lukewarm, who do not apply themselves constantly to some work, would be quickly vomited out of the Lord’s mouth. No idler could appear in his presence without feeling the sharp bite of his criticism. – If you really accept the loves that comes from Christ, it will lead you to God.
He wished his brothers to apply themselves always to prayer or to some good work … The saint used to speak against the disease of acedia: When a servant of God gets disturbed about something, as often happens, he must get up at once to pray and remain before the Most High Father until he gives back to him the joy of his salvation. – Whatever you make of your life, make sure that it is a reflection of Christ’s love.
(St. Francis commented on a passage from Ezekiel) A servant of God should be burning with life and holiness so brightly, that by the light of example and the tongue of his conduct, he will rebuke all the wicked. In that way, the brightness of his life and the fragrance of his reputation will proclaim their wickedness to all of them. – In everything that you do, remember that Christ calls you, in one way or another, to a service of love.
The saint was brilliant with great power in expelling demons and the grace of healing … Through the sign of the cross he gave sight to the blind, cast out demons, and healed various illnesses. – There is need of a coherent and courageous testimony of faith.
The Lord said to (a brother who prayed 50 psalms a day that the Lord would guard him from the pains of purgatory): Work confidently and do penance, for while I was in the world, I always labored. Let us, therefore, follow Christ and Saint Francis in labor, that we may be joined to them in rest. The industrious Lord does not love a lazy servant. – We must first of all abandon the worldly and pagan mentality.
The Three Orders
Francis’ teaching produced fruit especially in the three Orders that he established. The first is the Order of Lesser Brothers whose purpose is to serve the Lord according to the Gospel in poverty and humility, and to preach penance … this is acceptable to God … – We must transform the worldly mentality into the mentality of Christ.
(The emperor Jean died in the habit of the Order as God’s answer to his earnest prayer) O my most sweet Lord, Jesus Christ, would that I who have lived elegantly in the pomp of the world, clothed in priceless garments, could, as a truly poor and humble man, follow you, who are poor and humble, by seeking alms in this habit with a sack hanging from my neck. – We must accept the whole message of Christ without reductions of convenience and in accord with his example.
We should not be silent in our praise for Christ who exalted the humble. – (Rely on the action of grace) which can give to each of us the generosity to accept the responsibility for our own actions in terms of eternity and for the good of society.
The second Order founded by blessed Francis is that of virgins and continent women, whose proposal is to serve God in the enclosure, in perpetual silence, and in mortifying the flesh. The first member of this Order was the blessed Clare, a most devout disciple of blessed Francis. – To be a Christian means to be a witness to Christ.
The Third Order is of the Brothers and Sisters of Penance, shared by clerics, laity, virgins, widows, and married couples. Their purpose is to live uprightly in their own homes, to devote their attention to works of piety, and to flee the world’s allurements. – Without God, what remains of human beings!?
From the beginning a brother was assigned to them as minister, but now, in each region, they are released to their ministers, but who, as confreres begotten by the same father, are still encouraged by the brothers with counsel and assistance. – We live in times when God is forgotten … a world deprived of God … a world snatched away from its Creator.
The saint was busy giving to every class of people a way of penance and salvation. One time when a parish priest told him he wanted to be his brothers while still retaining the church, after he gave him a way of living and acting, he is said to have told him that each year, when the income of the church had been collected, he should give for God whatever was left from the preceding year. – The need to proclaim God is a sign peculiar to the times in which we live. If we separate ourselves from the Creator and cancel God, what remains of the creature?
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: firstname.lastname@example.org
Dear Sisters and Brothers in St. Francis,
The Lord give you His peace!
We recognize ourselves in the Church’s prayers for God’s People who journey in time towards eternal life. We pray for ourselves and especially for the one whom the Eternal Father has appointed Father and Shepherd of Christ’s Family, Vicar of Christ Jesus, and voice of the Spirit’s prompting for God’s People. Many, down through the ages, like our Holy Father today, stand in the waters of life’s calm as well as turbulent currents, and actively participate in all our experiences encouraging, supporting, interceding for us. They share in the ministry of Jesus – Jeshua of Nazareth, God’s Son and our Savior.
Moses, the great leader of Israel, a nation in formation, was called to eternity before Israel’s entrance into the Promised Land. He saw the Land from a distance. He appointed Joshua, his faithful assistant, as his successor and leader of the People of God. Joshua’s name means the Lord is salvation, and he truly was a saving presence that directed by his example as well as by his words. God worked wonders through Joshua, and the People were reaffirmed in their faith and encouraged in confronting the continued challenges they had to face to achieve the ultimate goal set for them by God. In the Church, we too have “Joshuas” whom the Lord calls to continue a work of re-affirmation and encouragement for all God’s People in the universal call and mission to holiness.
Our Seraphic Father was a living example of the mission and ministry of Jesus. Like Joshua, he entered the calm and turbulent waters of the Church and society of his century. He stood in those waters like the levites in Moses’ time. He was bearer of the Ark of the New Covenant, the Gospel of Jesus the Lord, bearing within himself and eventually on his body, the image of the One Whose voice he heard and Whose life he sought to live. He served as Deacon of the Church and founding Father and Brother of those who took up the challenge he accepted that they might follow in his steps and stand in the turbulent waters of their times for all to pass through them securely. In the overwhelming waters of his day – religious and philosophical ideologies, seductive allurements of a newly-forming consumer society, moral relativism lacking basic values or principles that flow from God’s law, and so much more – St. Francis stood out as a catalyst and transforming presence. He was a “Gospel Activist”. His presence, prayer, and power of God working through him and his brothers and sisters who accepted the Gospel challenge he was called to live, stemmed the tide that would have otherwise destroyed so many souls. The “Gospel activism” of love and mercy were a hallmark of the Franciscan fraternity then, just as it is still expected of us today, we who are the spiritual descendants of the Poverello.
The first obstacle the freed slaves of Egypt had to face was the Red Sea. Moses split the Sea and the Israelites passed on dry land. But, having passed through the Red Sea, the People wandered in the desert for forty years. Finally, as they approached the Promised Land, another barrier lay before them. It had to be overcome before they could enter their new and definitive home as free children of the One Great God. The success of their endeavor depended on overcoming this obstacle. Knowledge of the great wonders God worked so His People could achieve their goal would reach the neighboring towns and cities. All would know that Israel was back in Canaan after more than four centuries of exile and slavery. Israel was there to stay in fulfillment of God’s Promise. But the obstacle had to be overcome first.
The second obstacle was the Jordan River. Like the Red Sea of forty years before, the River was the line of demarcation between hopeful dreams and fulfillment. They had to face the present challenge and meet it head on. Following the command of the Lord God of Israel, Joshua commanded the priests of the People who were walking before Israel to come to a halt at the edge of the Jordan River. Then, he said: The Ark of the Covenant of the Lord of all the earth will precede you into the Jordan. When the soles of the feet of the priests carrying the Ark of the Lord…touch the water of the Jordan, it will cease to flow… No sooner had the priestly bearers of the Ark waded into the waters,…then the waters flowing from upstream halted…while those flowing downstream…disappeared entirely. Thus the people crossed … the priests carrying the Ark remained motionless on dry ground in the bed of the Jordan …(and) remained in the bed of the Jordan until everything had been done that the Lord had commanded Joshua to tell the People. (Cfr. Joshua 3; 4: 1-10). Their mission was to stand firm until all the people had crossed over.
God took the initiative to save His People and it was God Who promised to get them to its fulfillment. God keeps His word, but, since God gives us life without our help but will not save us without our cooperation, we must do our part as well. The People were assembled with the Promised Land just within their reach, across the Jordan. Thousands of people ready, after forty years of hope-filled wandering through the desert, to settle down. Many experienced and hardened warriors, defenders of Israel from the enemy nations that assailed them during their desert trek, dreamt of enjoying a quiet and productive home and family life without having to put their lives on the line every day to protect Israel from unfriendly peoples seeking their destruction. There were the families dreaming of stability for their children and for a plot of land they could cultivate to make the desert flourish. Then there were the youth – young men and women – who had known only a nomadic life of uncertainty and looked forward to all the opportunities that the young hope for in a more structured life: security, family, friendship, love, and all the rest. Nothing happened! There was one thing that had to be done! They had to cross the Jordan! How often in life do we stand and look ahead of us desiring what is within our reach, but are always hesitant or afraid to take the step and pass through the obstacle to the other side.
It was not until the priests carrying the Ark got their feet wet that the Jordan stopped in its course. Until those who were the shepherds and leaders of Israel, carrying the sign of the very presence of God with them, entered the waters first, nothing happened. They had to get their feet wet! This act showed Israel that they believed with their lives that God was with them, and their faith in His Promise would make the miracle happen. And it did! Our lives have so many Jordan Rivers that we have to wade through at low tide with difficulty, or maybe, because we cannot fight the strong currents of a raging river, need someone who can help us cross over on dry ground in the more demanding and challenging times. Each experience requires an act of faith and trust that God will again work His miracle for us. All we have to do is trust and “get our feet wet”. And, there is always a Joshua present to encourage us and indicate the way.
Human beings have conquered the sky and probed the depths of space. Nevertheless, there are many problems which endanger our existence: pollution, natural disasters, tragedies caused by human error, attempts on human life and freedom, attacks against the family, social injustice, intolerance due to prejudice of any kind (race, color, religious belief, culture, ideology, and the like). Like the waters of the Red Sea or the Jordan River, they threaten to overwhelm us and even destroy us, unless someone continues to hold back the waters. Jesus came to give meaning to life and strength to all who would accept to “Live Jesus” and be a counter-cultural prophetic presence in the world of today. Living the Gospel, they live the example of Jesus and they stand in the river bed for us all to pass safely. We Franciscans are called to be that “counter-cultural presence”.
St. Francis of Assisi was a living example of Gospel love. As Joshua continued the mission of Moses as leader and protector of Israel, the Poverello was imprinted with the marks of Jesus and commissioned with His Spirit to stand with and for the People. St. Francis was a leader and protector in our troubled world. Chosen from among them, he instilled hope in those who accepted his message of “Pax et Bonum” (Peace and Good) and encouraged all to wade into the waters of everyday demands, and to trust in God’s powerful Providence and his loving care and protection. He ardently loved everyone. He often wept, we are told, because “Love was not loved”. Whether with the lepers, Assisians, Turks, or any of God’s children and creatures, the greatest anguish and burning desire was to “Restore all things in Christ” (motto of St. Pius X).
We are the Spiritual Children of the Seraphic Father St. Francis of Assisi. He was a man of action as well as of prayer. His prayer made him aware of the needs of his sisters and brothers in the world, and he brought their needs back to his prayer. He lived a “virtuous circle” that continually went from earth to heaven and back. His prayer was concrete and effective. Whether it transformed interiorly or produced results exteriorly, St. Francis was a man always “in the thick of things”.
As Franciscans we consider it an honor to associate ourselves with his memory. We speak of him and can even speak and teach about him. We pray to him. We call on his powerful intercession in our needs. How many “things” do we try to do as fraternities or individuals to make the name and spirit of St. Francis of Assisi known and loved! But do we follow his example? Are we willing to take the step that enters the waters of uncertainty each day and trust in Divine Providence? Are we willing to forget ourselves for the sake of another and give some of our time, talents or even treasure to make someone in need realize that they are not alone?
The priests in the Jordan River not only got their feet wet so the waters would separate for Israel to pass through, but they also stayed in the river bed until everyone had passed over safely. Are we willing to witness our faith and trust in God to encourage others to do the same, especially those whose faith may be uncertain? The Poverello was even willing to risk death at the hands of the Turks for the sake of God’s glory and the good of souls. Are we willing to accept anything from God for the sake of His glory and the salvation of even one soul? Do we remember that St. Francis shared in the suffering of Christ in a concrete way his entire religious life?! Just remember that the Cross was imprinted on his heart when the Crucifix spoke to him at San Damiano years before it was visibly imprinted on his body at La Verna two years before his passage into eternity. As sons and daughters of St. Francis, have we allowed that spirit to take over our lives?
As we celebrate the Feast of the Impression of the Sacred Stigmata of the Wounds of Jesus on the body of our Seraphic Father St. Francis of Assisi this month, September 17, let us remember that “words come cheap”, but a true sign of admiration and veneration is imitation. Let us imitate our Father’s love and open our hearts and lives to one another. We must not forget that the person who seems not to deserve to be loved is precisely the one who needs to be loved. Often that love is shown when we are willing to enter the rough waters that endanger them so they might pass safely.
May God bless you. May Our Lady guide, guard, and protect you. And may our Seraphic Father St. Francis of Assisi watch over each one of us, his Spiritual Children, with loving care.
Peace and Blessings
Fr. Francis A. Sariego, O.F.M. Cap.
Regional Spiritual Assistant
Brothers and Sisters,
Peace be with you!
One of the talks presented at the Q was entitled Violence and Peacemaking given by Fr. Dan Horan O.F.M. I found it interesting that he used the Canticle of Brother Sun telling us that this was the journey of Francis’ life in creating the Canticle.
Francis dreamed of being a knight, but then became a prisoner of war. His transformation then took the path he chose to live, “the Gospel life” sound familiar? Father Dan noted “how can humans be true to themselves and get beyond the “original sin” of not being what God wants us to be. It is the non-violence & peacemaking that is the heart of the Franciscan Tradition.
Once a person recognizes the “divine dignity” of every created being he or she has a responsibility to give glory to God by respecting, caring, promoting and a sense of “being in this together” that life is one and each of us brings a special contribution.
Saint Francis Canticle is not just a flowery song about how we should live with nature. It is a challenge to revise our entire way of living. Our rule dictates that we are to be instruments of peace. We do not think like the world in its poor example but to live in peace. This is our call as Franciscans and sons and daughters of God. We are to be brother and sister to one another and part of a family that embraces all creation.
We can compare the struggles of life to Blessed Theresa of Calcutta who will be canonized on September 4th. In her letters that were written we read that she went through such darkness in her life and so even in all of the turmoil she like our Father Saint Francis became the mercy of God which illuminated the whole world radiating God’s love. “Let there be peace on earth”……..and let it begin with me.
“Jesus, teach me to choose peace rather than conflict.”
May the Lord give you his peace!! Your sister in Christ, Rose
(Resources: Fr. Dan Horan O.F.M., National Catholic Register and Rosie)
I bend my knee to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ
so that, through the prayers and merits of the
holy and glorious Virgin Mary, His Mother,
and of our most blessed father Francis and of all the saints,
the Lord Himself, Who has given a good beginning,
may give increase and may also give final perseverance.
(The Testament of St. Clare of Assisi)
The following are excerpts taken from early documents that speak of St. Clare of Assisi.
from the Acts of the Process of Canonization (1st and 2nd Witnesses).
Daily reflections are taken from various sources
Saint Clare, while that holy woman was in the world…was considered by all who knew her to be a person of great honesty and of very good life; and she was intent upon and occupied with works of piety. (1st Witness) – The danger of indifference demands we do battle with triteness, shallowness, and dullness, and that we have to resist and begin to go in the other direction.
Saint Clare began the Order that is now at San Damiano through the admonition of Saint Francis. She entered it as a virgin, and always remained such a virgin. (1st Witness) – Truly good people are always unconscious of their goodness.
Lady Clare very much loved the poor, and all the citizens held her in great veneration because of her good manner of life. (1stWitness) – When we compare ourselves with other people, we seem good; when we compare ourselves with God, we are nothing.
After Saint Clare had been in the Order, at the prayers and insistence of Saint Francis, who almost forced her, she accepted the direction and government of the sisters. (1st Witness) – Love quickly decays. Has our love grown cold?
The blessed mother (Saint Clare) kept vigil so much of the night in prayer, and kept so many abstinences, that the sisters lamented and were alarmed. (1st Witness) – The closer we get to Christ, the less certain we are of any merit of our own.
Lady Clare lay on the ground and had a rock from the river for her head…She was so very strict in her food that the sisters marveled at how her body survived. (1st Witness) – The older we get, the better we see ourselves.
Blessed Clare fasted much of the time. Three days of the week, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, she did not eat anything…Saint Francis together with the bishop of Assisi commanded her to eat on those days at least a half a roll of bread… (1st Witness) – The psychology of mediocrity seeks rather to ease the problem than cure it.
When she came from prayer, she admonished and comforted her sisters always speaking the words of God Who was always in her mouth, so much so that she did not want to speak or hear of vanities. (1st Witness) – Life had to be forfeited for our sins, and no life is more precious than that of God who became man. His blood … paid the infinite price.
When she (Saint Clare) commanded her sisters to do something, she did so with great fear and humility and more often than not she wished to do what she had commanded the others. (1st Witness) – Even if we claim not to believe, we still experience the moral effects of guilt.
When she was sick that she could not get up from bed, she had herself raised to sit up and be supported with some cushions…She spun thread so that, from her work, she made corporals and altar linens for almost all the churches of the plains and hills of Assisi. (1st Witness) – The great sin of the human race is rebellion. We are rebels against God.
The blessed mother was humble, kind, and loving to her sisters, and had compassion for the sick. (1st Witness) – We need to resolve to change, because when we fall into a pattern of ordinariness, we are loath to change.
While she was healthy, she (Saint Clare) served them and washed their feet and gave them water with her own hands. Sometime she washed the mattresses of the sick. (1st Witness) – You will always know the dark days of the Church (and our own) when there is a walking away from the cross of Christ.
She particularly loved poverty, but she could never be persuaded to desire anything for herself, or to receive any possession for herself or the monastery. (1st Witness) – There is no such thing as capturing the passing glory. You have to go down the hill and climb the hill of Calvary to come to perfect glory.
Lady Clare was as careful about the regular observance of her Order and the government of the sisters as someone might be in safeguarding his temporal treasure. (1st Witness) – The modern world is very fond of denying responsibility; it began in Eden. The denial of responsibility stops at the cross of Christ.
When five sisters were sick in the monastery, Saint Clare made the sign of the cross with her own hand over them and all of them were immediately cured. (1st Witness) – The Cross without Christ is tyranny; Christ without the Cross is a lie.
Lady Clare, former abbess of the monastery of San Damiano, had marvelous humility and so looked down on herself … that those tasks which she knew were more degrading she herself performed. (2nd Witness) – Like vines, we must be pruned by the gardener, that we might be more fruitful.
She (St. Clare) was eighteen years old or so (when she entered religious life)…She was a virgin in spirit and in body and held in great veneration by all who knew her even before she entered religion…because of her great honesty, kindness, and humility. (2ndWitness) – After we have embraced discipline, then we will be prepared to change others.
She was also so severe toward her body that she was content with only one tunic of ‘lazzo’ (i.e. home-spun cloth made of inferior wool and used by the country folk) and one mantle. (2nd Witness) – Softness of character comes about when we desire to accommodate ourselves to the world, shrinking away from sacrifice, self-denial.
If she (St. Clare) ever saw that the tunic of another of the sisters was worse than what she was wearing, she took it from her for herself and gave the better one to that sisters. (2nd Witness) – The Lord heals, but not always. There will not be a complete healing until the whole cosmos is renewed.
Clare at one time had a certain shirt made of boar’s hide. She wore it secretly under her woolen tunic with the skin and its bristles close to her skin. (2nd Witness) – Christ solved pain by making it a condition of life. He conquered pain by using it as a means of attaining glory.
She used such rough haircloths and shirts for herself, but was very merciful to the sisters who could not endure such harshness, and willingly gave them consolation. (2nd Witness) – God chooses us not for what we are, but for what God knows we can become.
Blessed Clare, before she was sick, practiced great abstinence: the greater Lent, of Saint Martin, she always fasted on bread and water, except on Sundays when she drank a little wine when there was some. (2nd Witness) – Love knows no limits.
At about midnight she woke the sisters with certain signs in silence to praise God. She lit the lamps in the church and frequently rang the bells for Matins. Those sisters who did not rise at the sound of the bell she called with her signs. (2nd Witness) – Sometimes the only way the good Lord can get into some hearts is to break them.
Her speech was always about the things of God. She did not wish to talk about worldly things or for the sisters to remember these things. (2nd Witness) – The crucifix is my autobiography. The blood is the ink. The nails the pen. The skin the parchment. On every line of that body I can trace my life.
If it happened at times that some worldly person did something contrary to God, astonishingly she wept, reproached such a person, and exhorted that one anxiously to turn to penance. (2nd Witness) – Instead of a question of superiority or inferiority (in the Church and in fraternity) it is a question of the different roles we fulfill.
Lady Clare frequently confessed, and, with great devotion and fear, frequently received the holy sacrament of the Body of our Lord Jesus Christ, trembling all over as she did so. (2nd Witness) – We are all thieves. We cheat God in our lives; we cheat Him in our worship; we cheat Him in our relationships with others. In us Jesus is reputed among the wicked.
Concerning the corporals made from her spinning…she had paper boxes lined with silk made to hold them and had them blessed by the bishop. (2nd Witness) – Scripture never speaks of reconciliation except through the death of Christ. We are saved by the cross and resurrection.
(One sister) had lost her voice so that she was barely able to speak even softly. She had a vision on the night of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary in which Lady Clare, while making the sign of the cross with her hand over her, cured her. It was done in such a way that on the same day she was cured since she did make the sign of the cross over her. (2nd Witness) – Peter and Judas both betrayed Jesus and both repented. One repented to the Lord and the other repented to himself. One lived in hope and the other died in despair.
A certain brother of the Order of Friars Minor, Stephen, was mentally ill. Saint Francis sent him to the monastery of San Damiano, so Saint Clare would make the sign of the cross over him. After she had done this, the brother went to sleep…Upon waking, he ate a little and then departed cured. (2nd Witness) – In the Garden of Gethsemane, the Lord suffered not so much from pain, as from evil.
When certain Saracens scaled the wall and climbed down into the part within the cloister of San Damiano, holy mother Saint Clare, then seriously ill, got up from her bed, called her sisters, comforting them not to be afraid. After she prayed, the Lord delivered the monastery and the sisters from the enemy. Those Saracens, who had already entered, departed. (2nd Witness) – The sufferings of our blessed Lord were finished in Him as the head of the church, but they are not finished in his body (the Church – us).
Through the virtues and grace that God had placed in her, all who knew her considered her a saint. She especially had a great love of poverty. Neither Pope Gregory nor the Bishop of Ostia could make her consent to receive any possessions. (2nd Witness) – Nothing gives us so much understanding of the love of God, the sacrificial love, as God coming down to this world from heavenly headquarters and saying: ‘I will take the pain as my own’…This is the agape love of Christianity.