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

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

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

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

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

About our region

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

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Father Francis

Excerpts taken from: A Mirror of Perfection, Rule, Life and True Calling of a Lesser Brother

Daily reflections are taken from various sources

1

Francis began to say: Even a perfect religious very often sins in ignorance. Consequently if he does not realize his sin, he is punished … so that he may see and carefully reflect internally and externally … how he may have offended. – Do not be afraid! Open, indeed, open wide the doors to Christ!

2

In this life the Lord leaves nothing unpunished in those whom He loves tenderly … Indeed the Lord in His mercy granted me this gift. He makes me understand through prayer any way in which I please or displease Him. – With humility and trust I beg and implore you, allow Christ to speak to the person in you.

3

I am bound always to give good example; because I was given to them (the brothers), especially for this. When they hear that I am carrying the same trials they endure they endure theirs with greater patience. – Everything within us urges us to transcend ourselves, to overcome the temptation of superficiality or despair.

4

Blessed Francis was always sickly … He nevertheless considered that he should show a good example to the brothers and always take away from them any occasion for complaining about him… – Left to ourselves we could never achieve the ends for which we have been created. » Click to continue reading “Father Francis’ Reflections for February 2017” »

Father Francis' Greetings for February 2017

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

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

 

Dear Sisters and Brothers in St. Francis,

May the Lord grant you peace!

In the the Spring of 1207, while in the woods of Monte Subasio, Saint Francis was accosted by several thieves. They asked Francis who he was and he replied simply, I am the herald of the great King! We know the story: they stripped him of his tunic, threw him into a ditch, and went away amused at the self-engrandizing words of this ‘lunatic’. Untroubled at the harsh treatment given him, our Seraphic Father, truly an example for all his children-to-be got up and cheerfully continued his way. Eccentric to say the least! … but truly in love with God and life so that even harsh treatment could not destroy the inner peace and joy he was discovering more deeply every day.

St. Francis’ immediate response to the brigands was based on a profound conviction: the Lord had spoken to him from the Cross of San Damiano, and charged him to rebuild my Church, for as you can see it is falling into ruin. St. Francis understood these words literally and set out at once to begin his divinely appointed commission, his ‘job’, rebuilding churches; he was the divinely-appointed ecclesiastical architect and general contractor. Actually, it is not far-fetched to give him these titles. The day would come when he would be the ‘architect’ of a whole new way of life and build the Family of the Penitents of Assisi with the lives and love of the ‘living stones’ who eventually joined him and followed his example. The Providence of God took care of his needs. The good people of Assisi and so many others were the all- providing hand of God for this young ‘penitent’ who had embraced his fears, kissed the leper, and given all that ‘possessed him’ back to the world. He threw himself with abandon into the loving arms of his Father in heaven. » Click to continue reading “Father Francis’ Greetings for February 2017” »

Thoughts from the Regional Formation Director

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Let us begin again.

It was in the third Sunday of Ordinary time that we listened to the reading of Isaiah 9:1

The people who walked in darkness have a seen great light; upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom a light has shone.

Now we are celebrating this month the Presentation of the Lord celebrated 40 days after Christmas, almost as though we don’t want the joy of Christmas to be forgotten and really it should not. It is like a post Epiphany. Christmas should be everyday with joy hope and the light of Christ in our hearts.

Here we are recalling Simeon’s words calling Christ “the light to the nations” We have the custom of blessing the candles for Church and in the home. The popular day was called Candlemas. The candles that are blessed are a symbol of the offering of Christ, they are consumed by the flame and so light is spread about.

This feast is also a meeting where we come to meet Christ the light so that we can become as St. Paul puts it to become “children of the light”

As the Church joyfully celebrates this feast she reminds us that we are to share in the mission of bringing God’s peace and good news to all people as Catholics and especially in our Franciscan vocation. Mary our Mother and patron of the order, Joseph and the faithful priest Simeon and Anna give us examples of joy and hope in God’s plan.

If we meditate on these events we can apply them to our lives as Franciscans. We also can look to the Prayer Intention of our Holy Father Pope Francis for the month of February, COMFORT FOR THE AFFLICTED especially the poor, refugees, and marginalized may they find welcome and comfort in all our communities.

We also know St. Clare (named Chiara which means light) as a young child followed her mother Ortolana feeding the hungry and caring for the sick.

Let us pray: Most high, glorious God, enlighten the darkness of my heart and give me, Lord a correct faith, certain hope, a perfect charity, sense and knowledge, so that I may carry out Your holy and true command.

From the Heart of the Minister

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair….

Sounds like how we all are feeling, doesn’t it? These opening words from A Tale of Two Cities were written in 1859. But they feel like they were written last week.  The world is in an uproar and we are swept along.  It isn’t easy to keep a firm Franciscan stance when so many are angry, accusing and very, very sure they stand on the side that is correct.

 

One night last week, I was speaking with our brother, Ted Bienkowski, OFS, who is our Regional JPIC Coordinator and he said, “We cannot be politically divisive and spiritually effective.”  Powerful words.  It is the perfect time to put those words into action.  Lent will begin in a few short weeks. Be spiritually effective for Lent! What exactly does that mean? Stay out of the firestorm of political opinion and use that energy to visit the immigrant family in your neighborhood. Make them feel welcome here. Smile at people! You have the Tau cross around your neck – show the joy that comes from being a Franciscan. Sow the seeds of kindness – you are rebuilding the church stone by stone, smile by smile. When those around us are nervous and fearful of what will happen, show them that we know God has our backs.

 

Try something new for Lent. Earn those bricks to rebuild the church.  By the time Lent is over you will have some wonderful new habits! May we walk together through these troubling times, and may God continue to smile on our efforts!

From the Heart of Our Minister January 2017

holy-family-sleeping

A very happy, healthy and blessed New Year! May God’s choicest blessings be ours in 2017.

I recently saw the above picture on the internet and loved the rendition of Joseph, Mary and their newborn son and God. Their love is holding them together. Joseph is protecting Jesus and Mary, even in sleep.

This morning at Mass, the Recessional Hymn was God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen. A few minutes before Mass started, Sister Linda, our Music Director, gave some background on this Christmas Carol.  She wondered why there is a comma after the word Merry. So she traveled through Google until she found an answer.  This Carol has been used in church back to the 15th century.  The original Old English title meant something different than what we think of today. The word ‘rest’  meant surround or hold close.  ‘Merry’ came across as joyful / peaceful. God, surround us with joy and peace;  how Franciscan does that sound?? And how needed in today’s world! A phrase from Rule 19 reads:  they should strive to bring joy and hope to others.  We can’t give it to others if we don’t have it to offer.

Lord, may we surround ourselves in Your mantle of joy and peace in the coming year. Help us to nurture it and when we feel low, help us to come back to You for a refill – an abundant refill with enough to give a share to every child of Your’s that we encounter. Keep us near, Lord; it’s where we want to be!

Blessings,

kate

Father Francis’ Reflections January 2017

1
Blessed Francis held that to beg for alms for the love of the lord God was of the greatest nobility, dignity, and courtesy before God and before this world … blessed Francis would say that a servant of God must beg alms for the love of God with greater freedom and joy … –  In order to love Jesus, we must offer to others the gift of ourselves.
2
I must be a model to your poor.  Especially because I know that in the life and religion of the brothers there are and will be Lesser Brothers, in name and in deed, humble in all things, obedient and of service to their brothers. –  It is only in the giving of ourselves through charity, service and compassion that we can experience true joy.
3
At…Rivo Torto, there was a brother…who prayed little, did not work, and did not want to go for alms…blessed Francis…told him:  Go on your way, Brother Fly, because you want to feed on the labor of your brothers, but wish to be idle in the work of God…he went away…and did not ask for mercy. –  Suffering is transformed and elevated when, in those moents, we become aware of God’s closeness and solidarity.
4
When blessed Francis lay gravely ill…he often asked his companions during the day to sing the Praises of the Lord which he had composed a long time before his illness. –  There is something of the apostle Thomas in every human being.  Each one is tempted by unbelief.
5
(Blessed Francis said to Brother Elias) Allow me to rejoice in the Lord, Brother, and to sing His praises in my infirmities, because, by the grace of the Holy Spirit, I am closely united and joined with my Lord, through His mercy, I can well rejoice in the Most High Himself. –  We have to open our eyes and our heart to the light of the Holy Spirit.
6
Blessed Francis did not want to address anyone called ‘Good’ by their name, out of reverence for the Lord, who said: No one is good but God alone.  –  May every family truly rediscover its own vocation to love!
7
(Blessed Francis) did not want to call anyone ‘father’ or ‘master’, nor write them in letters, out of reverence for the Lord who said:  Call no one on earth your father nor be called masters, etc. –  Do not separate your faith from your daily life and your daily life from your faith, as so many people do today.
8
(Blessed Francis said to the doctor): Tell me the truth. How does it look to you?  Do not be afraid,  for, by the grace of God, I am not a coward who fears death… –  The life and the whole being of each Christian must be unified around a central axis: fidelity to Jesus Christ.
9
With the Lord’s help, by His mercy and grace, I am so united and joined with my Lord that I am equally as happy to die as I am to live –  In every circumstance, the starting point is to intensify prayer (in order) to increase one’s faith and make it more vigorous.
10
At the beginning of the religion, when blessed Francis would go with a brother who was one of the first twelve brothers, that brother would greet men and women along the way as well as those in their field, saying: May the Lord give you peace. –  God alone is our true and unfailing support.
11
Blessed Francis instructed all the brothers … that they should not abandon holy and devout prayer. Going for alms, and working with hands like the other brothers, for good example and for the benefit of their souls as well as others –  Love and prayer are the only sure spiritual levers with which it is possible to lift up the world.
12
(Blessed Francis said): The brothers who are subjects are very edified when their ministers and preachers devote themselves freely to prayer; and the subjects are inclined to humility, when they see the prelates and the greater ones co-operating in their enterprises and labors. –  We are all called to live a life of holiness.
13
That faithful disciple and imitator of Christ (Blessed Francis), while he was in good health, practiced what he taught the brothers. –  In baptism God has chosen each one of us ‘to be holy and spotless and to live through love in his presence’.
14
From the time of his conversion till the day of his death, blessed Francis, whether healthy or sick, was always concerned to know and follow the will of the Lord. – The Holy Spirit makes man realize his own evil and at the same time directs him toward what is good.
15
Blessed Francis praised God with great fervor of spirit and joy of body and soul, and told (the brother who informed him of his terminal condition): If I am to die soon, call Brother Angelo and Brother Leo that they may sing to me about Sister death. – Thanks to the multiplicity of the Spirit’s gifts, every kind of human sin can be reached by God’s saving power.
16
From the beginning of his conversion blessed Francis, with God’s help, like a wise man, established himself and his house, that is, the religion, on a firm rock, the greatest humility and poverty of the Son of God, calling it the religion of ‘Lesser Brothers’ –  Love nothing more than Christ who reveals to the world the mystery of divine love and true human dignity.
17
After the brothers grew in number, he wanted the brothers to stay in hospitals of lepers to serve them…whenever nobles and commoners came to the religion, they were told, among other things, that they had to serve the lepers and stay in their houses. – True relationships are rich in inner depth, gratuitousness, and self-sacrifice.
18
Let the brothers remain as strangers and pilgrims in the houses in which they stay.  Let them not seek to have anything under heaven, except holy poverty, by which, in this world, they are nourished by God with bodily food and virtue, and, in the next, will attain a heavenly inheritance. – Love Christ present in those burdened by illness.
19
The bishop (of Terni) said: …God has beautified his Church with this little poor man, lowly, unlettered…And because of this you should live and honor the Lord and avoid sin for He has done thus for every nation. – Call with faith on the name of Jesus (and experience the power that flows from that Name).
20
Blessed Francis bowed down before the Lord Bishop and fell down at his feet, saying to him … (People) attribute glory and holiness to the creature, not to the Creator.  You, however, like a discerning man, have separated what is precious from what is vile. – Provided that we approach the word of God and listen to it as it really is, it brings us into contact with God himself.
21
If at any moment the Lord wanted to take back the treasure He has loaned to me, what would I have left except just body and soul, which even non-believers have? – The word of God brings us into contact with Christ, the Word of God, the Truth, who is at the same time both the Way and the Life.
22
I must believe, rather, that if the Lord had granted a thief and even a non-believer as many gifts as He has given me, they would be more faithful to the Lord than I. – The Holy Spirit is the author of our sanctification.
23
… a servant of God … must not attribute anything to himself, but give all honor and glory to God.  He should not attribute anything to himself while he is alive except shame and trouble, because, while he is alive, the flesh is always opposed to God’s gifts. – The Holy Spirit transforms us deep down, divinizes us, makes us participants in divine nature, just as fire makes metal incandescent, just as spring water quenches thirst.
24
A few years after his conversion he resigned the office of prelate (superior) before all the brothers during a chapter held at Saint Mary of the Portiuncula.  From now on, he said, I am dead to you.  But here is Brother Peter di Catanio: let us all, you and I, obey him. –  Christians need reconciliation with one another; we need mutual forgiveness.
25
I want you to put one of my companions in your place regarding me, so that I may obey him as I would obey you.  For the sake of good example and the virtue of obedience, in life and in death I always want you to be with me. –  – (We should not be afraid) of openly and courageously expressing our faith in Christ in our daily lives, especially in works of charity and solidarity with those who are in need.
26
Among other favors, the Most High has given me this grace: I would obey a novice who entered our religion today, if he were appointed my guardian, just as readily as I would obey him who is the first and the eldest in the life and religion of the brothers. –  Be men and women of integrity and sound moral character worthy of the respect and trust we seek from others.
27
A subject should not consider his prelate, a human being, but God, for love of Whom he is subject to him… But the Most High gave me this grace: that I want to be content with all, as one who is lesser in the religion. – We must enrich the world not only by the gifts God has entrusted to us, but also by our goodness.
28
Frequently, when some of he brothers did not provide for his needs, or said something to him that would ordinarily offend a person, he would immediately go to prayer.  On returning, he did not want to remember it … – The first step in evangelization is to accept the grace of conversion into our own minds and hearts, to let ourselves be reconciled to God.
29
The closer he approached death, the more careful in complete perfection he became in considering how he might live and die in complete humility and poverty. – Our relationship with God demands times of explicit prayer, in which the relationship becomes an intense dialogue, involving every dimension of who we are.
30
A few years after he began to have brothers, (Clare) was converted to the Lord through his advice…Her conversion not only greatly edified the religion of the brothers, but also the entire Church of God. – O Lord of life, when the moment of our definitive ‘passage’ comes,  grant that we may face it with serenity, without regret for what we shall leave behind.
31
Saturday evening before nightfall, after vespers, when blessed Francis passed to the Lord, many birds called larks flew low above then roof of the house where blessed Francis lay, wheeling in a circle and singing.  We, who were with blessed Francis, have written about this … – Jesus asks us to follow him and to imitate him along the path of love, a love which gives itself completely to the brethren out of love for God.

Father Francis’ Greetings January, 2017

St. Katherine Drexel Regional Fraternity
Regional Spiritual Assistant
St. Francis of Assisi Friary
1901 Prior Road
Wilmington, Delaware 19809
tel: (302) 798-1454      fax: (302) 798-3360      website: skdsfo      email: pppgusa@gmail.com
January,  2017
Dear Sisters and Brothers in St. Francis,
May the Lord grant you peace!
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came to be through him, and without him nothing came to be.  What came to be through him was life, and this life was the light of the human race; the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it … He came to what was his own, but his own did not accept him. But to those who did accept him he gave the power to become children of God … And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us, and we saw his glory, the glory of the Father’s only Son full of grace and truth. (John 1: 1-14)
The society in which we live is filled with words.  Everyone seems to have something to say.  Those who speak these ‘words’ often remind us that we are ‘entitled to their opinions’.  In fact, we are more often than not expected to take their words to heart and do whatever is proposed.  Commercials expect us to buy the product advertised.  Millions of dollars are spent to ‘push’ some medical ‘breakthrough’ or pharmaceutical remedy as a miracle drug for what ails you; even when the counter warnings that must legally be presented are quite disconcerting not to say frightening; still these products are bought to the billions of dollars, regardless of the possible dangerous, harmful or even fatal effects. Newspapers and news broadcasts saturate us with information, often about less important, insignificant matters or even opinionated editorials, when we would rather want to be made aware of more significant events and objective comments of pressing  local, national and worldwide interest that in fact do or most possibly will affect our lives.  Friends may offer suggestions or ideas, solicited or not, and will be easily offended if we opt to follow another opinion or, maybe even our own.  Sermons and homilies are delivered in a manner that captivates the listeners’ attention and opens their hearts to remember what was presented to them, but the words many times are knowledgeably and beautifully delivered but do not challenge the listener; no one wants to ‘make waves’, so something good, correct and ‘nice’ is spoken, but often a word that will not set the soul afire with enthusiasm to be a ‘living gospel message’.
There is nothing essentially wrong or sinful with speaking with one another, having an opinion that one believes firmly, marketing products, researching and ‘experimenting’ medicines intended to help better our human condition, informing people of current events, suggesting solutions to problems and difficulties, following one’s own informed and formed conscience, speaking with people of faith in an encouraging and uplifting manner … or even writing monthly circular letters intended to inform, instruct and, God willing, inspire others to accept the challenge each day to improve our relationship with God and others.  All these, and many other examples you are undoubtedly able to list, are intended for good.  How we cooperate with what we hear or read will determine the good or not so good, or even the bad effect our response will have on our lives.  The Word is necessary to communicate, and it seeks a response; even silence can be a very powerful response.
Scripture class in Seminary was always an interesting event.  One of the basic facts conveyed to us was that We are People of the Word. We may not have heard this specific title given us Catholics and Franciscans, but it truly expresses who we are. The faith we share was first spoken to both the simple as well as educated people.  They listened to a message, reflected upon it, and ultimately committed themselves to accept it.  Once the words spoken were accepted, the next step was to concretize them in everyday life. As time passes, if we are not careful to safeguard the authenticity of what we hear and read, we fall into the danger of losing the integrity of the message.  We no longer are who we say we are, nor live what makes us stand out as a People of God, founded on His Words, followers of the Word Who became one with us that we might one day share Life with Him.
There was an amusing game I remember seeing on TV a good number of years ago; TV programs were few and still in black and white. A group of ten or more people stood shoulder to shoulder.  The first person in the line was told a joke to be whispered in the ear of the person next to them so that no one else present could hear what was being said.  Then that person was to whisper the same joke, exactly as told them, into the ear of the person next to him/her.  Well, by the time the last person heard what was being ‘whispered down’, the joke was totally different than the original.  This is what happens when we are not attentive to what we hear and read.  We are called to be faithful in proclaiming and spreading God’s Word and His words.  We must not use or manipulate the Word to foster and/or promote our own personal issues and agendas. It was amusing to hear the final ‘joke’, now totally different, that emerged from the line of people who had ‘faithfully repeated’ what they had heard. When a distortion of this magnitude happens to the truth in real life, when misunderstandings and exaggerations are passed on as truth, and this ‘truth’ directs lives, the consequences can be quite serious.
Often, even innocently, individuals hear what they are ‘tuned’ to hear. This happens in religious organizations, political gatherings, social groupings, churches, and even in The Church.  In the Church it is the guidance of the Holy Spirit that gives the grace of infallibility in matters of faith and morals to the Holy Father, Successor to St. Peter and Vicar of Christ for the sake of Christ’s Body, the Church. Our Seraphic Father placed such trust and confidence in the presence of the Holy Spirit and His holy operation that St. Francis told the brothers that the Holy Spirit was the true Minister General of the Order (cfr. 2 Celano, chpt. CXLV).  Notwithstanding, the words proclaimed in their original form, when ‘translated’ to meet the ‘needs of the times, persons, places, or things,  can easily undergo an alteration that affects their integrity.  There are many safeguards in the Church to avoid error and ‘misunderstandings’. What happens when we read but do not perceive? What happens when we hear but do not listen? What happens when we proclaim and promote but do not live?  What happens when we, like sounding gongs and clashing cymbals, repeat correctly all the proper words that indicate what we have been taught, but then live as though we have heard nothing, nor have allowed our lives to be transformed by the power of the Word, Whose words are spirit and life?
St. Francis was an advocate of respect for the Word.  Let the names and written words of the Lord, whenever they are found in inconvenient places, be also gathered up and kept in a becoming place (Letter to the Custodians, 1220). This respect for Sacred Scripture of St. Francis was rooted in his awareness that all he had become, and all he had offered thousands of others to become in response to God’s call, had its beginning in the words he read, heard and had explained to him by one who represented for him the official teaching of the Church (the Magisterium) … and he accepted without gloss, and gave himself wholeheartedly to a life that would change the world as it changed millions of people down through the centuries.  Our Seraphic Father listened to the words of Sacred Scripture so intently that he remembered them,  pondered them, and assimilated them into his life.  They were the true Form of Life he accepted to follow.  To follow Jesus is to follow the Gospel; and to follow the Gospel is to be a living image of Jesus. Living the Word without gloss, as St. Francis expected  his spiritual children to do, allows the Word to come alive in, with, and through us who believe It and believe in It.
The Rule, Constitutions, Regulations and even simple organizational suggestions offered by the legitimate leadership of any jurisdiction of our Franciscan Fraternity are all based on the life and teachings of the one Great Word Who is Jesus, and His words in Scripture, and how our Seraphic Father accepted them in his life. Franciscans, true to their Seraphic Father, have always considered Sacred Scripture their first and basic rule of life and guide. In a letter to the whole Order, Our Seraphic Father wrote: Because whoever belongs to God hears the words of God, we who are more especially charged with divine responsibilities must not only listen to and do what the Lord says but also care for the vessels and other liturgical objects that contain His holy words in order to impress on ourselves the sublimity of our Creator and our subjection to Him.  I, therefore, admonish my brothers and encourage them in Christ to venerate, as best they can, the divine written words wherever they find them … For many things are made holy by the words of God and the sacrament of the altar is celebrated in the power of the words of Christ (Letter to the Entire Order).
As spiritual children of St. Francis of Assisi we have accepted the call to live the Gospel, according to our state in life, following Jesus Christ after the example of St. Francis of Assisi.  As People of the Word, if we have not already done so, we must let the Word of God written for us to read and meditate, and the Word of God, Jesus the Christ, enfleshed in human nature in all things but sin for us to follow, be the guiding force of our lives.  The Rule and Constitutions studied and approved by Holy Mother Church are Spirit and Life for us all. To disregard them for convenience or human respect, is to betray our Franciscan vocation.  The pondered and promoted decisions of the leadership of our regional and even the single fraternities in union with our national and international councils are expected to be reflected upon and then followed with fraternal trust in those elected to leadership.  Often our ‘human nature gets in the way’, and can keep the person and even the fraternity from moving forward.
What makes us Franciscans is our ability to be sisters and brothers not intimidated nor intimidating, ready and trusting enough to be able to express our feelings – happy, sad, annoyed, contrary, and so forth. However, a true Franciscan is also expected to live the essence of Franciscan Poverty, manifested in true Obedience.  Self-centered negative criticism of others, refusal to accept in humility what is asked of us in the spirit of Sacred Scripture, the Magisterium, the Rule and Constitutions, devious behavior, antagonistic ‘feelings’ towards another, and much more are not only contrary to our Franciscan charism but also contrary to our Catholic Christian calling.
By ‘Catholic’, I do not refer to the Catholic ‘card holder, baptized in the Roman Catholic Church’.  By ‘ Catholic’ I refer to the person baptized into the Roman Catholic expression of Christianity who seeks to be faithful to Scripture, Tradition, the Magisterium of the Catholic Church, and willingly strives to be an affirming presence in the world, wherever and however God has asked that person to be.
We have begun the New Year.  What lies ahead of us is in the hands of God.  May we take on the commitment because of our faith-filled conviction and Franciscan profession to read Scripture more often and intently. To do so daily is not an exaggerated expectation for People of the Word, who we Franciscans are. Just as His own did not receive Him, as St. John tells us, there are those who do not accept the challenge of their profession to live the Franciscan-Gospel life with joy and surrender to the Word of God and heart of St. Francis of Assisi.  The Word was made flesh and must be enfleshed in each one of us.  As He came and dwelled among us, so that others might be able to see Him through us. So that to those who come to believe in Him through the example of our Franciscan Gospel Life, may receive from Christ the power to become the children of God.  These children of God will see His glory, the glory of the Father’s only Son, full of grace and truth, alive in their hearts and transforming the lives of others.
May that Word, who entered time with us that we might enter eternity with Him, be our guiding force each day. And may the Eucharist, great gift of the Word through the Spirit, allow the Mystery of the Incarnation we celebrate and receive to fill us with the graces of the Holy Spirit and always give us peace in the Father’s love, mercy and providence.
My prayers are with all of you and your loved ones for a most blessed and peace-filled New Year 2017.  May God bless you; Our Lady guide, guard, and protect you; and our Seraphic Father St. Francis of Assisi watch over each one of you, his Spiritual Children, with loving care.
Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ (St. Jerome),  No Christ, No Peace!  KNOW CHRIST, KNOW PEACE!  May we make this a Year of the Word for us to get to Know Christ that we may Know His Peace in our hearts, homes, and the world around us. May the Peace, Joy, Blessings … and Love of this Season fill your hearts and those of your loved ones.  Happy New Year to all!
Peace and Blessings
Fr. Francis A. Sariego, O.F.M. Cap.
Regional Spiritual Assistant

Thoughts from the Regional Formation Director January 2017

francis-and-blesssed-mother

Brothers and Sisters Joy and Peace to you!

We remember the words which Elizabeth spoke to the Virgin Mary “Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of you womb, and why has this happened to me”…Luke 1:42-43

As Franciscans being guided by our Rule, we realize that Mary was a humble servant of the Lord. Francis embracing the Virgin Mary with great love declared her protectress and advocate of his family. We should express our love for her by imitating her complete self-giving by praying confidently.

Our Blessed Virgin Mary was open to every word and call of the Lord. May we especially implore her intercession that the Lord may grant peace in hearts, peace in families, peace among nations and in particular peace in our Franciscan family.

This January our Holy Father’s prayer intention is for Christian Unity, being faithful to the Lord’s teaching by striving with prayer and fraternal charity to restore ecclesial communion and by collaborating to meet the challenges facing humanity.

Let me close with an inspired Peace Prayer attributed to St. Francis – Poor Clares of Chesterfield

Prayer for Creation

Lord, make me a steward of creation. Where there is violence, let me bring peace; Where there are scars, let me bring beauty. Where there is destruction, let me plant Seeds; Where there is waste let me reuse; Where there is domination, let me nurture; Where there is want, let me give away; Where there is pollution, let me be a healer; Where there is exploitation, let me be reverent;

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to control as to let go and let God; To be powerful as to protect; To be rich as to be poor in spirit; To be indifferent as to love deeply. For it is in giving away that we receive, it is pardoning that we are pardoned.

And it is in dying to self that we are reborn to eternal life.

Did you know?

That in the Old Testament Hannah, Anna, Deborah and few others all prayed a similar Magnificat as Our Blessed Mother?

 

From the Heart of the Minister - December 2016

The Franciscan Gift

May the Lord give you peace! Most of us grew up being taught to think of others first. We take care of everyone else and see to their needs before taking care of ourselves.  That really was our first brush with Franciscanism!  This time of year is especially filled with thinking of others.  What gift shall I buy for Johnny, don’t forget to bake those special cookies that Grandmom likes so much, make sure you write a note to your old neighbors before you send their card.  If we ever make time for ourselves it surely isn’t at this time of year!

Although it goes against the grain, this year we need to give ourselves a gift…..a Franciscan gift. Do something different at your prayer time.  That’s it, that’s the gift.  If you have a particular space where you say your prayers, change it up somehow;  place a nativity scene where you can see it.  Light a candle. Doing even the smallest thing differently will (hopefully) make you stop, take a breath, shake off the demands of the world for just 20 minutes and enter into the presence of God.  If you do the Office from your cell phone and text messages and/or phone calls intrude, go back to using your prayer book. Leave the phone outside your prayer space.

During our Advent journey, ‘place’ yourself in the manger while you are praying. Be part of the wonder and joy that took place there. Feel the love that Mary and Joseph have for each other. Surely God chose them to be His Son’s parents because they did have a great love for each other. And by Christmas morning, may you be so close to the new born King, that you can smell the hay on which He lays!

May the Lord bless each of us with a happy and holy holiday!

Reflections from Father Francis - December 2016

December 2016
Let every creature
in heaven, on earth, in the sea and in the depths,
give praise, glory, honor, and blessing
to Him Who suffered so much,
Who has given and will give in the future every good,
for He is our power and strength,
Who alone is good,
Who alone is almighty,
Who alone is omnipotent, wonderful, glorious
and Who alone is holy,
worthy of praise and blessing
through endless ages.
Amen.
(From the Later Admonitions and Exhortation of Saint Francis of Assisi)
Daily excerpts from Franciscan Sources
Daily reflections taken from various sources

1

The holy man Francis, beloved of God, had already, in his holy way of living, portrayed the life of Jesus the Redeemer, which the world had consigned to oblivion, and had set it out in his evangelical Rule, so that it should be truly evident to all the world that what he was illustrating, both in the Rule and in the life he led, was the life of Jesus the Savior himself. – While we are pilgrims on earth, we look toward heaven, our definitive homeland.

2

Jesus in his exceeding goodness and mercy knew what the evangelical Rule of Francis and the perfect transformation he had brought about would have to endure from future generation’s persecutions, unfortunate expositions, and infringement … Within a short time after the Rule’s institution, He would furnish the seal of His high priesthood both the life of Francis and the established Rule, through a miracle unheard of in previous ages …  – Where hatred and the thirst for revenge dominate … there the grace of mercy is needed … to bring about peace.

3

Christ’s standard-bearer was Francis as he carried (the wounds of the Savior) on his sacred body for two years.  Defying nature, he lived with his side opened; blood flowed from it; a memorial of blood of the living God, shed for us.  Breathtaking are these signs … – For Christians, being the light of the world means spreading everywhere the light that comes from on high.

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