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

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

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

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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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From the Heart of Our Minister – November 2018

This truly comes directly from my troubled heart………

Several months ago I started one of these posts with that famous quote “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times”. Right now all I can say is “It is the worst of times”.

The entire world is in such turmoil and the news has to be followed not day by day, but hour by hour. Who has been shot, what has been said, who is supporting whom in the mid-term elections, how close is the caravan today? All of these scenarios can set off sparks between any two given people (or more) and set brother against brother and sister against sister.  And it has been hitting me in the face for several weeks.  And by that, I mean the actions and behaviors of some has cause a great deal of heartache.  Certainly only a small number. but as usually happens, that small number of folks bang the gong loudly. And the din has risen to the top, obliterating the peaceful voices of most of us.

“Christ accepted you, so you should accept each other, which will bring glory to God” (Romans 15:7).

Why is this so hard? Why do we feel so righteous and superior to any other group of God-created people? And how, being a professed Secular Franciscan do we allow the hate to grow and fester?  We are called to be better than that but that means better than the other’s bad behavior not ever superior. We who remain silent when comments are made and bigoted e-mail messages are forwarded are just as guilty

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

Edmund Burke

It is always easier to let someone else step up.  Being peacemakers doesn’t mean keeping it peaceful for ourselves. No ripple in the water here!  I’m not going to aggravate either side! We are called to make that ripple and on the day of our profession, we said “This is what I want”. Going from Gospel to life and life to Gospel has no room for ‘I’ll live the Gospel as long as I can still hate all Muslims’…..or make snide remarks about those who don’t speak English…..or decide who I want in my fraternity.

We are all human, I get that.  And at some point in our lives we have harbored ill feelings or thoughts against another group of people.   But those who have matured in their faith and vocation have seen the error of that thinking and done something about it. Those who haven’t are holding onto their misconceptions like a badge of honor;  not only wearing it proudly but advertising it whenever and wherever they can.

“If you hate someone, you are defeated by them” – Confucius

Our faith is our anchor in these terrible times. But we upend that anchor with every hate-filled work and action.  These actions damage not only our relationship with each other, but greatly damage our relationship with Jesus, His Holy Mother and Saints Francis and Clare.  Who are we if we have thrown them away?

I saw this poem and felt it ties in with what I am trying to get across:

Always be kind,

If you see someone falling behind, walk beside them.

If someone is being ignored, find a way to include them.

If someone has been knocked down, lift them up.

Always remind people of their worth.

Be who you needed when you were going through hard times.

Just one small act of kindness could mean the world to someone.

That next to the last line: Be who you needed when you were going through hard times, speaks volumes to me. We have all been in some tough situations where some small act of kindness changed everything.  When I was in that bad car accident in July, a man opened the driver’s door and reached in and took my hand.  I never did see his face because all the airbags had deployed and I was inside that cocoon of plastic sheets, wires and broken glass.  He calmly talked to me until the ambulance arrived and then slipped away when the EMT’s were trying to get me out of the car.  I don’t know if he lived in the neighborhood and came out when he heard the crash or if he was driving by and stopped to help.  When he reached into the car for my hand, he had no idea if I were black, white, Muslim or Jew. I don’t know his name, but I can tell you this, I still pray for him. And I pray that someday I might give that gift to someone else in need.  That’s how it works, brothers and sisters.  God shows us how and then helps us accomplish it.   He is not present when we are spewing hurtful remarks or belittling a group of folks who are different than us……not better or worse………just different.

We have tremendous opportunities these days to be the peacemakers, to light the darkness in someone’s life. We have asked to be instruments of peace.  Can we allow God to play His healing melody through us?  Take some time to ask Him.  Both of you will be glad you took the time to visit.

 

 

 

Thought for the Day by Fr. Francis Sariego, OFM Cap – November 2018

November 2018

 

Most High, all-powerful, good Lord,

Yours are the praises, the glory, and the honor, and all blessing,

To you alone, Most High, do they belong,

and no human is worthy to mention Your name.

Praised be You, my Lord, with all Your creatures,

especially Sir Brother Sun, …  Sister Moon and the stars, …Brother Wind, …

Sister Water, … Brother Fire, … our Sister Mother Earth, …

Praised be You, my Lord, through those who give pardon for Your love, …

Praised be you, my Lord, through our Sister Bodily Death,

from whom no one living can escape.

Woe to those who die in mortal sin.

Blessed are those whom death will find in Your most holy will,

for the second death shall do them no harm.

Praise and bless my Lord and give Him thanks and serve Him with great humility.

Amen.

(Canticle of the Creatures [abbreviated] by Saint Francis of Assisi)

 

Following are excerpts taken from: A Book of the Praises of Saint Francis

Daily reflections are taken from various sources

 

1

Blessed Francis, like the rising sun, brightened the world by his life, his teaching and his miracles.  He had a father intent on worldly affairs, but a very upright mother. – Our objective in life is to become a saint.

2

Like another Elizabeth, at the sacred font she called him John, and, in spirit, she predicted that, by the grace of his merits, he would become a son of God. – On the first rung of the ladder to holiness are written the words: ‘Who does not carry his cross and follow me, cannot be my disciple’.

3

The boy grew up … until he was twenty-five years old.  Then he left all things and followed in the footsteps of Christ.  He renewed the old life of the Apostles… –Stubbornness is one quality incompatible with sanctity; purpose and persistence are necessary.

4

We have heard that of Francis’ first twelve disciples, for whom he also wrote a rule … and all were holy men except for one … (so that) even in his disciples the similarity of Francis to Christ might not be wanting. – Live the Gospel without compromise; live like Christ.

5

After blessed Francis returned from the Supreme Pontiff from whom he received the authority to preach, gathered his brothers around him near the city of Assisi in an abandoned hut that was so confined that (they) … were hardly able to sit or rest in it. – To progress in virtue, we need a plan and to stick to it.

6

There was no complaining…no grumbling, but with peaceful heart, the soul filled with joy, preserved patience. Under the tutelage of the holy father, the increased number of brothers later grew in perfection. – Be a creature of character, for character means reliability, dependability, self-discipline.

7

They were truly lesser, in name as in humility of mind, who…always sought a place and position of humility…they loved one another in a remarkable way… –Without humility all others virtues are either impossible, or tarnished and vitiated.

8

They poured out all their affection in common, hiring themselves out to provide for the other’s need, seeking not their own interests but those of Christ and of their neighbors. – The greater a person is esteemed in the eyes of people, the less he/she should be esteemed in his/her own.

9

But truly obedient soldiers, they never dared to place anything before holy obedience, knowing nothing about distinguishing precepts.  They almost ran headlong, to carry out what they were asked with no thought of contradicting it. – A humble person is not disturbed by praise, for it all belongs to God.

10

Wherever they met people on the roads or in the piazzas, the brothers would encourage them to love and to fear their Creator. – The humble receives praise the way a clean window takes the light; the truer and more intense the light is, the less you see of the glass.

11

All their senses were so subdued that … there was a simple appearance, a modest bearing, and, with their eyes fixed on the ground, there minds were set on heaven. – Scripture reminds us that God resists the proud.

12

The brothers strove diligently to fulfill not only what he told them as by brotherly advice or by fatherly command, but also what by some sign they recognized he wanted. – We are not merely to prize our Faith but profess it with our life.

13

They were totally ignorant of duplicity of heart.  For just as there was in them one faith, so there was one spirit, one will, one charity, continual unity of spirit, harmony in living, cultivation of virtues, agreement of minds, and piety in action. – Just what are we doing today with the Faith God has given us?

14

At one time, when 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 should consider himself a servant of God until he has passed through temptations and tribulations.’ – Never forget a kindness, and never remember an injury.

15

To his brothers, he would speak compassionately, not as a judge, but as a father to his children and as a doctor to the sick … 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,. – The most powerful remedy against sudden movements of impatience is a gentle and friendly silence.

16

Francis’ zeal to observe poverty and humility and to be continually engaged with virtuous things was unusual. He rejoiced in poor little dwellings…As for ‘necessity’ not based on reason but on pleasure, he declared that it was a sign of a spirit that was extinguished … He wanted few books … He did not want the brothers to have money or handle it … – Today, right now, this very moment, is the time to start being what God wants me to be.

17

…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’. – The strength of the saints lies in their weakness through which God manifests Himself.

18

(Francis) 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’. – Love incites imitation.

19

With the greatest zeal he cultivated poverty’s companion, the virtue of humility. – Sometimes love is too superficial and non an inner, all-consuming love, the kind of true love that makes one a captive, ready to serve, willing to forego, prepared to sacrifice.

20

(Francis) used to say: ‘We have been sent to help clerics for the salvation of souls so that they may make up whatever may be lacking in them … Be subject to prelates so that as much as possible on your part no jealousy arises’… – Cultivate resignation to God’s Will in all things.

21

He was, in his own eyes, a great sinner, while actually he was in every way a mirror of holiness, and also a virgin in the flesh, as he revealed to that very holy man, Brother Leo, his confessor … – Pray humbly each day for divine guidance to reflect rather than rush into something we may later have to regret.

22

The holy man always insisted on progress in doing good, … No idler could appear in his presence without feeling the sharp bite of his criticism … He rejoiced upon hearing that the brothers in a hermitage in Spain had divided their time, that one part of the week was dedicated to household chores, and the other to contemplation. – What benefits a garden or orchard is not a sudden storm but the gentle, steady force of a lingering all-day and all-night rain.

23

(The first Order established by Francis) is the Order of Lesser Brothers whose purpose is to serve the Lord according to the Gospel in poverty and humility, and to preach penitence. Innumerable signs in the professed testify that this is acceptable to God… – Real charity is warm, spontaneous, quickly responsive, never letting then left hand know what the right hand is doing.

24

Some religious are said to have been shown under the mantle of the Blessed Virgin.  Thus the Mother of God herself showed brothers to be under the protection of the wings of the Son of God … – The more we love God, the more we will want to love His creatures, especially those less favored and fortunate than we.

25

The Second Order…is that of virgins and continent married women, whose proposal is serve God in the enclosure, in perpetual silence, and in mortifying the flesh.  The first member of his Order was the blessed Clare … living …under the profession of the mot exalted poverty … – If you desire that God should hear your prayers, hear the voice of the poor.

26

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. – Humility is a sincere distrust of self, on the one hand, and a firmly clinging reliance upon God, on the other.

27

The Lord made his servant, Francis, grow into a great nation, thus He gave him the blessing of all nations. – It is not a question of who you are or where you are, but of what you do with what you have!

28

When the time of Francis’ warfare in this life finally came to an end, the holy father departed happily to Christ in the year of the Incarnation of the Lord 1226 … A most illustrious Roman matron, Lady Jacoba dei Settesoli, very devoted to the man of God, came to visit him… She administered whatever seemed necessary for his funeral … – When you can’t pray on your knees (in church), pray on your feet (in fulfilling your daily duties).

29

(Francis) named her Brother Jacoba because of the vigor of her virtues, (and) wished to see her before he died … when the saint saw her, he rejoiced that, as he had hoped, she had been sent by God … It was thought the saint would live longer … The saint (said): ‘I will depart on Saturday evening.  You can leave with your retinue on the following day’. – Prayer is being on terms of friendship with God, often raising our minds to Him.

30

On the day and at the hour which he predicted, the saint was gathered to the Lord to live with Him … His most holy body was buried at Assisi in the Church of Saint George … After a few years a church was built in the saint’s honor … The site is called the Hill of Paradise… So great a multitude of people had come together for the celebration that the city was not able to contain them… – All for you, my God, because I love you.

 

Monthly Meditation by Fr. Francis Sariego, OFM Cap – November 2018

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

 November, 2018

Dear Sisters and Brothers in St. Francis,

The Lord give you peace!

November, dedicated to the Holy Souls in Purgatory, reminds us that God loves us into life, and calls to the fullness of life. The journey of life is so wonderful.  The many challenges we encounter help us grow in God’s love.  This gift is also dangerous because of the many allurements and seductions that can entice us to deviate from the path marked out for us.  Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.  If we follow His Way, listen to His Word of Truth, we can expect ultimately to share in the fullness of His Life. He Himself says: I came that they may have Life and have it abundantly  (John 10: 10).  Jesus gained Life for us, once for all, on the Cross of Calvary … Life and the Cross!

There it is again, the Paradox of the Cross!  The Paradox of Christianity! We are always facing these choices, these opposites: positive-negative, good-bad, light-darkness, grace-sin, heaven-hell.  We always have that responsible and awesome option placed before us.  Adam and Eve were offered a test as a requisite to continue living in Eden. In the Old Testament, before the People of Israel entered the Promised Land, Joshua read the Law of the Covenant God made with His People and told them to choose between life and death … I for my part will serve the Lord  (cfr. Joshua 24: 2, 15).  The people responded in unison that they would serve the Lord, but history for them, and also for us who have opted to follow Jesus, tells us how fickle our commitments can be. Perhaps this is why we have difficulty in reflecting on that most solemn moment in life when we are called to encounter the Source of all Life and see ourselves in His Light.

Our Christian Faith is nourished by the Sacramental Life of the Church. We are redeemed in the Blood of Christ. He constantly encourages and invites us to follow me. In this life of faith we are always speaking of positive values while focusing in on what at first glance seems ‘negative’.  We speak about Life, but refer to it through the Death of Jesus.  We speak about Love, but recognize it through the symbol of hatred, torture, and death, The Cross.  We hope in Heaven, but experience its beginnings through the challenges and pitfalls of life’s earthly journey.  Our humanity is constantly affected by the changing attitudes of nature. We learn how to ‘see’ beyond the barriers that daily seek to impede our forward steps. A faith-filled heart and hope-filled life help us to live life to the fullest.  In this faith and hope we cannot help but recognize how grace offers us the opportunity to “live life and love it”.

Our Seraphic Father Saint Francis of Assisi was a unique and inspired prophet for all times.  His approach to life and all creation has earned for him the title ofUniversal Brother. His example instills in the hearts of his spiritual children an attitude of joy and gratitude for every moment of life.  He was a man imbued with a spirit of wonder that made him rejoice even during the most challenging times for him. Several years before his brief life ended – he died at 44 years of age – his body began to succumb to all the effects of the penances he had imposed upon himself.  He even apologized to ‘Brother Ass’, as he called his body, for treating one who was so faithful to him in such an unappreciative manner.  With the knowledge of his terminal condition and the pains of the Stigmata of Jesus he had received two years before, informed that he was soon to pass from this life to the next, he asked that a new stanza be added to the Canticle of the Creatures. The brothers sang:  Praise be You, my Lord, for Sister Bodily Death, from whom no one living can escape.  Woe to those who die in mortal sin.  Blessed are those whom death will find in Your most holy will, for the second death shall do them no harm.  Praise and bless my Lord and give Him thanks and serve Him with great humility.  When he was told that Death was imminent, he called out Welcome, Sister Death!

When we see life as the gift it is, and live life and love it, then even death cannot disturb our inner joy and serenity.  We live each moment as the gift it is. Thus we learn how to ‘let go’ of what we have for what is greater…or better Who is Greatest.

As Spiritual Children of the Seraphic Father, how do we live our lives?  What is our attitude to the challenges God permits that remind us of our vulnerability and mortality?  Do we live in the spirit of the letter to the Hebrews that states: We do not have here a permanent dwelling, but we await another (Hebrews 13: 14)? Do we take time to reflect on death as one more step, the ultimate, in getting us to God?  Do we avoid even thinking of the Paschal Mystery that each one will be called to celebrate in his or her personal life?  Are we joy-filled in life?  Do we encourage others to be at peace even in the midst of difficulties?  Are we one of those who fall into that amusing, but true saying: ‘Everyone talks about heaven, but no one seems to be in a hurry to get there’ ?

We have grown accustomed to the amenities of life, the privileges we often see as ‘rights’.  Discomfort is something we seek to avoid.  Criticisms and rejection disturb our calm. Self-centeredness, greed, vengeance become survival tactics that control relationships. In the face of problems we cannot control, we question, barter with, blame God for the ‘bad’ things that happen to us.  Our sainted brothers and sisters teach us that the Christian is enlightened by the assurance of Faith in the Incarnation and Passion-Death-Resurrection of Jesus. St. Paul was convinced that to live is Christ, and to die is so much gain (Philippians 1: 21).  We are challenged to be a ‘People of Hope’, as St. Paul writes to the community of Rome: And hope does not disappoint us because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.  For while we were still weak, at the right time, Christ died for the ungodly … While we were still sinners, Christ died for us … We have been justified by His blood … We even boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ through whom we have now received reconciliation.  (Romans 5: 5-11) We entrust ourselves totally to God.  If God is for us, then who can be against us? (Romans 8: 31)  God has promised us Life with Him forever and He has given us the most excellent means to live in hope as we journey through life in joyful anticipation of His loving embrace – Jesus.  And Jesus established a perpetual means to keep the promise and pledge alive – the Eucharist.

Jesus said: I am the living bread come down from heaven.  Whoever eats of this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh. (John 6: 51) When we gather around the Eucharist, Sacrifice and Sacrament of the Lord Jesus Christ, we reaffirm our faith in Life.  We encounter our daily ‘death and dying’ with serenity.   We anticipate the prospect of heaven through bodily death with joy.  We let go of a lifetime of false securities.  We strive to bepoor in the things of this world but rich in those of heaven (cfr. James 2).   We break the shackles of the responsibilities and affairs that seemed so important in this life, and we do so with the freedom of the children of God who remember that we have here no lasting city, but we seek one that is to come. (Hebrews 13: 14).  We speak of ourselves as strangers and pilgrims on earth … seeking a homeland. (Hebrews 11: 13)  Everything is a gift.  We can offer each moment of our life as a ‘gift’ to others.  We even call on Sister Bodily Death from whom no human can escape with the trust and acceptance of St. Francis’ Canticle of the Creatures. In the Eucharist we discover the source and pledge of Life. The Eucharist is our strength in life and our defiance of death.  We become, mystically, a Eucharistic presence. Thus, our life is an act of thanksgiving.

Jesus is our Life! In the Eucharist our concerns and confusions are clarified, our discouragements and despair are dispelled, our faults are forgiven, our self-centeredness is embraced and transformed into a love that opens our hearts to all. How much more can we say about this ‘heaven on earth’ we are privileged to possess, celebrate, and ‘become’ when our hearts and souls prepare for the encounter!  The Eucharist is ‘communion’ that binds us to Christ in His Redemptive Passion-Death-Resurrection and to all who celebrate and partake of the sacrificial Lamb of God offered for us. The Eucharist is ‘sacrifice’ that ‘makes us ‘holy’. The Eucharist transforms us into the One Whom we receive, thus fulfilling God’s words to Israel: Be holy, because I, your God, am holy (Leviticus 20: 26; 1 Peter 1: 16).   The Eucharist is a ‘pledge of future glory’ as we share in this sacrament of ‘heaven on earth’ (St. Lawrence of Brindisi).  We are offered the opportunity to live in hope, the pledge God offers us: For who hopes for what one sees?  But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait with endurance (Romans 8:24).

We ‘get lost’ forever in that vast ocean of goodness Who is Jesus in His Word and in the Eucharist.  Consuming the Victim, we are consumed by Him and are ‘lost’ to this world, that we might be found in Him, living already the ‘pledge of future glory’.  The effect of this union fills our hearts and our minds with the assurance of God’s presence. The inner peace and serenity strengthen us. We are empowered to confront challenges, bear burdens, eliminate enemies through Christian love, entrust ourselves totally and unreservedly to God Who has been and is everything.  My God and My All!  is a Franciscan expression of the total surrender our Seraphic Father lived. We spiritual children of St. Francis gratefully and willingly forfeit everything this world holds dear. Eternity is not a pious reflection but a reality we live in mystery until we are called to share it with the angels and saints in glory.

With unwavering hope in God’s mercy and the Life He promises we will share with Him,  we anticipate with joyful expectation the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ(Prayer after the Our Father at Mass) We Franciscans are the Pilgrim People of God – pilgrims and strangers.  We are committed to a deeper relationship with God through prayer-sacrifice-acts of charity.  We profess by the mere fact of these elements to live in hope – a hope that does not betray.  It is a ‘vision’ of fulfillment yet to be possessed, but already available.  Allow nothing to disturb your daily journey to God.  For those who seek to live in God’s presence nothing will succeed in disrupting their inner peace, even if storms rage around them.  As we celebrate the Eucharist that makes us one in His Name, may the ‘Holy Communion’ we share strengthen our fraternity. May the ‘Sacrifice’ we offer open our lives to respond to the responsibilities we have promised to fulfill. This ‘Pledge of Future Glory’ animates us to be enthused and encouraged to accept every moment as an opportunity to grow in and use well the gifts God has entrusted to us.  Let us take to heart the words of our Seraphic Father St. Francis of Assisi: So great is the good which I expect that all pain is to me a delight.

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

 

From the Heart of the Minister – October, 2018

October 1.  Wasn’t it just September 1?………..August 1?  The days are going by at warp speed any more. If you don’t like the season, wait a minute and it will change. But not everything changes that quickly.  Think back to when we were growing up.  Women in the work force? Laughable!  Men changing diapers??? Not on your life!  Here’s a confession I’ve never made before…………when I was 17, a girlfriend and I having just gotten off a long flight from Europe, went into a bar at JFK International Airport.  (We had several hours to wait for our connection back to Philly.)  She and I were “asked” to leave in a voice that demanded no argument.  Not because we were underage, but because we were not accompanied by a man. What makes it ironic is that I didn’t drink as a teenager and still don’t to this day.  Now if you had to have a man accompany you to buy fine chocolates, my life would have been so much different!

It is NOT my intention to get into a political conversation.  It has been difficult enough to watch the hearings and/or news this past week.  There is no gray area in this situation.  You are decidedly one side or the other. Sometimes vehemently one side or the other.  I haven’t heard one person say “Oh, I don’t care how it turns out”. Or “It’s none of my business what he/she did.”  We have all made it our business. Because to some degree, we all have a story to tell.  There is no six degrees of separation here.  We are only one degree away from being involved.  Our daughters, granddaughters, our neighbors,…….ourselves.  The $64,000 question is how do we deal with all this as a Franciscan??

We are supposed to be peacemakers. We have promised to follow St. Francis’ footsteps to Christ.  If we take a closer look, those footsteps are not leading into one camp or the other. They are leading directly to God. And that’s where we should head in these types of situations.  It’s hard to be a peacemaker when you are angry and riled up. But here’s a thought,……how many times have you sung Make Me A Channel Of Your Peace?  No, I can’t count the number of times either.  Just the title takes us right where we need to be.  Just what we need to ask for.  Make me a channel of your peace.  We aren’t asking for peace, we ask to be a channel.  And before anybody says it…………I know there is no proof St. Francis wrote the hymn!!  There is a huge difference between asking for peace and asking to be a channel.  That is where the Franciscan meets the road.  Even though I am angry, even though I don’t know what to do with all the feelings that have been stirred up, let me be the channel.  Let that conduit go right through my anger and even though it is still there, don’t let me hand it on to someone else. Or fire up their feelings with more hatred and hostile words. Let me only hand the other person God’s perfect peace.  Not easy! Here are some words written by St. Francis, from The Later Rule:  I counsel, admonish, and exhort my brothers in the Lord Jesus Christ not to quarrel or argue or judge others when they go about in the world; but let them be meek, peaceful, modest, gentle, and humble, speaking courteously to everyone, as is becoming.

We even have the wisdom of our beloved Pope Francis who said: The peace of Saint Francis is the peace of Christ, and it is found by those who “take up” their “yoke”, namely, Christ’s commandment: Love one another as I have loved you (cf. Jn 13:34; 15:12). This yoke cannot be borne with arrogance, presumption or pride, but only with meekness and humbleness of heart.

~Pope Francis, VISITA PASTORALE DEL SANTO PADRE FRANCESCO AD ASSISI

In my own case, I can still feel that “BUT” sitting on the tip of my tongue, wanting to justify why I feel the way I do.  We have no business being right (= righteous).  Our job, our mission, our request from God Himself is to be a peacemaker.  In our humanness, the only way we can be a peacemaker in the middle of this explosive topic is to be a channel.

While you are spending a little extra time in church this week for the Transitus and the very special feast day of our Seraphic Father, ask to be the channel.  Visualize that channel plowing right through your anger and serving up God’s peace.  Just how much do you think Jesus felt like extending peace to his Apostles at the last supper?  Surely, if Jesus was able to do it on that night in particular, we can give it try now. God is not extending our hand to our fellow man, we are extending His hand, but only if we can be a channel. Amen?

Thanks, Lee, for the help with the references!

Peace, much love, and happy feast day,

kate

Thought for the Day by Fr. Francis – October, 2018

October 2018

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 ..

Amen.

(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

 1

Before I begin to speak, I sign, 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.

2

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.

3

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.

4

(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!

5

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.

6

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.

7

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 for him. In the midst of life we are caught in death, while he has passed from death to life. – Do not allow aridity in prayer to trouble you, for perfection does not consist in having delights but in possessing virtue.

8

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.

9

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!

10

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.

11

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 impossible as to make the sun shine at night.

12

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.

13

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.

14

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 self-knowledge.

15

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.

16

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.

17

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 both 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.

18

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.

19

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.

20

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.

21

(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.

22

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.

23

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.

24

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.

25

His sons were weeping at the loss of so lovable a father but were filled with 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.

26

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!

27

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.

28

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.

29

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.

30

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 no 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.

31

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…

 

 

Monthly Meditation from Fr. Francis – October, 2018

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

October 2018

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 … 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 no 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 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 … 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. Goodness overflows limits set and reaches 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 fulfillment 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 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 Teresa of Calcutta, Pope 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

Thoughts from your Regional Formation Director – October 2018

Thoughts from your Regional Formation Director

October 2018

 Greetings to you my sisters and brothers in Christ and Saint Francis of Assisi. All peace and good be with you! Blessed Feast of Saint Francis of Assisi. May the peace and joy of our seraphic Father be yours in ever greater abundance as we journey with Francis in imitating Jesus and Mary.

I know I said in my last letter to you that we would start the discussion on Candidacy, the Rite of Admission and tips on progressing thru the process. But something important has come up that I feel needs to be discussed. That is what do you do when a really nice person that seems to be a strong, loving Catholic with strong social convictions is in formation but there is that nagging sense that “maybe they should be part of the Dorothy Day group” the Blue Army or some other catholic organization. The Franciscan Order is one way of approaching God. As our rule of life says: “The Franciscan family, as one among many spiritual families raised up by the Holy Spirit in the Church, unites all members of the people of God — laity, religious, and priests – who recognize that they are called to follow Christ in the footsteps of Saint Francis of Assisi. In various ways and forms but in life-giving union with each other, they intend to make present the charism of their common Seraphic Father in the life and mission of the Church.1

An example of this really “Nice Person” could be a simple one. As stated above, they are good Catholics, very involved in many things. Holy and noble things like the Rosary society, the Blue Army, maybe the Saint Vincent DePaul Society, AA, NA2 and so on. So much so that they have a hard time committing to the process, committing to Fraternal Life and the life of the region and national fraternities.

In the Franciscan Journey3 it says: “Initial Formation (Inquirery / Candidacy) prepares you for permanent profession as a Secular Franciscan. Our way of life MUST TAKE PRIORITY in your life. When choices must be made between SFO requirements and other groups, SFO takes priority”

Now, if a person seems to be in this situation and is willing to put those other “Holy” things aside for the Order, no problem. But if not, they may need to make a difficult choice. And if they can’t or will not, the council must make the choice for them. Fraternity and the Order must take priority. Obviously there are exceptions for Family Life and special occasions. But even family life can be a concern. If a person has a spouse that is not participating and not supportive there can be problems. The spouse could start getting upset if their partner is fully engaged in the order and they don’t like it!

Another good example is a person has a strong personal devotion to a noble Saint or other aspect of the faith, could even be something like “Fatima”. And that person tries to proselytize the fraternity and has them commit to the same devotion. So someone might say “how can that be bad?” In the “Ritual of the Secular Franciscan Order”4 it explains that as Franciscans we are bound to liturgical pray. It lists the approved forms of prayer we are to use focusing on the Liturgy of the Hours. The Rosary and Franciscan Crown are suggested to be said in May and October5.

When someone who is a “really Nice Person” and even a good Catholic has a hard time complying with any aspect of the rule, constitutions, statutes and other governing documents there is a very real possibility they should not be professed. This is hard, I know. It is not like someone who obviously shows signs that they have no vocation. But this needs to be done to protect the fraternity and actually the individual. Next month we will continue the discussion on Candidacy, the Rite of Admission and tips on progressing thru the process. I promise!

Pax et Bonum Peace and all Good

Ted Bienkowski, OFS SKD

Regional Formation Director

 

1 SFO Rule, Chapter One – Rule 1

2 Alcoholics Anonymous & Narcotics Anonymous

3 The Franciscan Journey, Chapter One, Page 2, last paragraph

4 The Ritual of the Secular Franciscan Order, Appendix II, Pages 103 & 104

5 The Ritual of the Secular Franciscan Order, Appendix II, Page 104, number 7

Regional Minister – September 2018

It was a perfectly perfect day!  The sun was shining, not a cloud in the sky, but just enough breeze to keep it comfortable. And, it was the day of the First Annual Secular Franciscan Family Picnic for the fraternities bonded to the OFM Caps of the Province of St. Augustine.  God was smiling on the Friars efforts!

Stepping through the archway that connects the Friary with the chapel and church was like stepping into a beautiful, prayerful oasis. There were lovingly tended flower beds everywhere and a thriving vegetable garden that rumor has it are the handy work of Brother Andrew with the help of those new Postulants who have recently arrived.  I have never seen Elephant Ears grow so large and even asked Brother Andrew if he watered them with holy water.  That twinkle in his eyes and sly smile told me more than his words! 

Before the grill was fired up and all the side dishes brought out, Brother Kip, shepherded us into the chapel where he delivered a talk on our Rule. What a beautifully rich presentation that covered a number of pieces of our Rule but with one common theme….that we need to draw together, be a community with each other and all the branches of the family and most especially with the marginalized.  Brother Kip reminded us that to achieve this oneness with God, each other and creation, we must start with prayer.  Our prayer leads to love and our love leads to action. Such beautiful words to reflect on!

The food was fabulous but the ‘company’ was even better.  Sitting with these Friars and their friends and sharing a lot of laughs was certainly refreshing to body and soul.  The fun continued with a very serious egg toss that had those of us on the sidelines cheering for both sides as each egg was caught….or not.  How Franciscan is that!

The day was beautiful on many levels, none more than the fact  that it was a family gathering…..Friars and Seculars…..brothers and sisters……..no us and them, but we.  We had a great time  being together and isn’t that our future in a nutshell.  “We” have  great work to do but it won’t happen unless we are helping one another, taking each other’s hand and going forward. Help us Lord to be aware of these great opportunities to not only work as a family but act as a family. Give us the nudge we need to step out of our comfort zone and take advantage of these invitations to allow our vocation to grow and flourish – as big  as Brother Andrew’s Elephant Ears!!

Thoughts from your Regional Formation Director

Thoughts from your Regional Formation Director
September 2018

Greetings to you my sisters and brothers in Christ and Saint Francis of Assisi. All peace and good be with you! As summer comes to a close, and school starts again we enter into another cycle of change! Soon we will see the leaves change color and the air start to get cool and crisp. And so as the seasons change so do we. We grow and learn all our lives. It should never stop.

As we said in August’s “Thoughts from your Regional Formation Director” we were going to continue the discussion concerning the Inquires and the interview process. We had said that there should be no doubt in the minds and hearts of any of the council and formation team before a person is moved on into candidacy. That does not mean that the discernment process is over by any means. All it means is that there are no obvious concerns that the person is not ready or does not have a possible vocation!

When there is some objection by one of the council and or formation team this must be resolved before any action is taken. So, now that we have an individual or several individuals voicing some concern, what do you do? A lot of talking and even more listening. The council and formation team must explore the objections or concerns in a loving and charitable way but also focus on truth. A very good tool to use are the two lists in the resource “The Franciscan Journey i called “Signs that may indicate the presence of a vocation to the SFOii” and the invers, “Signs that may indicate that a vocation to the SFO is not present”. The council and the formation team should prayerfully go thru those lists and ask if any of the signs of vocation are there and if any of the signs that a vocation is NOT present are there.

Now, any one of us could read the lists and look at the signs that a vocation is not present and apply some of them to our own lives. After all we are all human and in need of grace ourselves. The question should be, does an individual live in those signs or perpetually act them out, not occasionally fall into one or two of them. After a  thorough discussion and evaluation another vote should be taken. By the way, only the council votes, that is the Minister, Vice Minister, Formation Director, Treasurer, Secretary, Spiritual Assistant and any elected Councilors at Large. If any members of the formation team are not elected, they do not vote.

In all cases, if there is still any doubt, the person should not move to candidacy. The next thing to do is ask “What Now?” Should the individual be asked to continue some other form of initial formation? If the individual lacks basic Catholic understanding, maybe they should be asked to attend a local RCIA program, then come back. It may be a simple although hard, as to honestly discuss with them why the council voted the way they did and give them the opportunity to correct their behavior. But do not leave it to chance thinking that they will “get it” in candidacy. That only hurts them and the fraternity.

Next month we will continue the discussion on Candidacy, the Rite of Admission and tips on progressing thru the process.
Pax et Bonum
Peace and all Good
Ted Bienkowski, OFS
SKD Region Formation Director

iPages 15 ‐ 18
ii SFO is now referred to as OFS “Order of Franciscan Seculars”

Father Francis Sariego, OFM Cap. Reflections for September – 2018

September 2018

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 ..

Amen.

(Saint Francis of Assisi)

The month of September celebrates the

Impression of the Sacred Stigmata on the Body of our Seraphic father St. Francis of Assisi

Following are excerpts taken from Considerations on the StigmataThe Little Flowers of St. Francis of Assisi.

Daily reflections are taken from Various writings of St. Francis

1

In the year 0f 1224, St. Francis went…from the Valley of Spoleto into Romagna, taking with him Brother Leo… Francis heard that many gentlemen were gathered together…he said to Brother Leo, Come, let us go up into this festival, for, by God’s help, we shall gather there rich spiritual fruit. – We can be sure someone is a true religious and has the spirit of God if his lower nature does not give way to pride when God accomplishes some good through him. (Admonitions, 12)

2

A certain gentlemen of Tuscany…Orlando of Chiusi … had heard concerning the holiness and miracles of St. Francis and bore him great devotion and had a desire to see him and hear him preach…Francis came to the castle…where the gentlemen were gathered…and spoke these words, So great is the joy which I expect. That all pain is joy to me. – Blessed the religious who treasures up for heaven the favors God has given him and does not want to show them off for what he can get out of them. (Admonitions, 28)

3

Orlando was touched in the heart by God…After dinner returning to St. Francis, he spoke with him at length, and in the end said, I have a mountain in Tuscany, a devout and solitary place, called Mount Alvernia, far from all discourse with people, well fitted for one who would do penance for his sins. If it please you, I will freely give it to you and your companions for the welfare of my soul. – Blessed the religious who keeps God’s marvelous doings to himself (Admonitions, 28)

4

(Francis) replied: Orlando…I will send some of our brethren to you, to whom you shall show this place.  If it shall seem fit to them for prayer and penance, I will accept your charitable offer. Having thus spoken, St. Francis departed, returning to St Mary of the Angels…Francis sent two of his companions…They accepted Mount Alvernia, taking possession of it in the name of God…St. Francis rejoiced greatly at what they told him. –  In as far as the brothers (and sisters) depart from poverty, in so much will the world depart from them, and they will seek and not find. (2 Celano, chpt.40,#70)

5

(Francis) thanking God, spoke with a joyful countenance to these friars saying, My children, we draw near to our Lent of St. Michael the Archangel.  I firmly believe it to be the will of God that we keep this Lent upon Mount Alvernia  which, by divine dispensation, has been prepared for us, that we by penance may merit from the Lord the consolation of consecrating this blessed mount to the honor and glory of God, of his glorious Mother the Virgin Mary, and of the holy angels. – There is a contract between the world and the brothers (and sisters): the brothers (and sisters) must give the world good example, the world must provide for their needs.      (2 Celano, chpt.40,#70)

6

St. Francis went to pray … with three companions (bros. Masseo, Angelo, and Leo)… In the first watch of the night a multitude of fierce demons…came to attack him on all sides, in order to disturb him in his prayer, but this could not do…Francis prayed: O m y Lord Jesus Christ, I thank you for your great love and charity…I am ready to gladly endure every pain and suffering which You, my God, are pleased to send me for my sins. – When we break faith and withdraw our good example, the world will withdraw its hand in just censure. (2 Celano, chpt.40,#70, adapted)

7

The peasant said to St. Francis: Tell me. Are you the Brother Francis of Assisi? Francis responded, Yes.  The peasant replied said: Take heed, then, that you be in truth as good as all people say you are, and therefore I admonish you to be none other than what the people say you are… Francis dismounted, knelt down and kissed the (peasant’s) feet… – Go and bring to all a message of peace and penance, that their sins may be forgiven. (Major Life, chpt.3,#7)

8

When Orlando heard that Francis and his companions was at Mount Alvernia, he was filled with joy and came with many others from his castle to visit St. Francis…he found them (Francis and friars) at prayer, and drawing near he saluted them…After they had spoken together for some time, St. Francis thanked him for the devout solitude which he had bestowed upin them and for having come to visit them there. – Be patient in trials, watchful in prayer, and never cease working. (Major Life, chpt.3,#7)

9

Orlando called St. Francis and his companions aside and said to them: My dearest brothers, never was it my intention that you would be exposed on this savage mountain to any corporal necessity, which might hinder you from attending perfectly to spiritual matters; therefore it is my desire that you send freely to my house for everything you want, and if you fail to do so I shall take it very ill at your hands. – Be considerate in your speech, well-ordered in your actions, and grateful to your benefactors. (Major Life,chpt.3,#7)

10

Then St. Francis (said to his companions): Let not Orlando’s charitable offer cause you in any way to offend against our lady and mistress, holy poverty…if we closely embrace holy poverty, the world will come after us…Let us persevere in holy poverty, for it is the way of perfection, and the pledge of eternal riches… – A man has as much patience and humility as he has (when things go against him) and no more. (Admonitions, #13)

11

He was sometimes so absorbed in God that he was seen by his companions to be raised corporally above the ground and rapt in prayer.  In these raptures were revealed to St. Francis not only things present and future, but even the secret thoughts and desires of the brethren. – Blessed is that brother who loves and respects his brother when he is absent as when as when he is present and who would not say anything behind his back that he could not say charitably to his face. (Admonitions,#25)

12

Brother Leo, being beset by a strong spiritual temptation, felt a great longing to have some devout thing written by the hand of St. Francis … he dared not speak of his desire to St. Francis to whom nevertheless it was revealed by the Holy Spirit … – Nothing must keep us back, nothing separate us from Him, nothing come between us and Him. (Rule 1221,chpt.23)

13

(St. Francis) wrote a verse in honor of Christ, drawing at the foot thereof  the sign of the cross Tau…he gave  it to (Brother Leo), saying, Take this writing, dearest brother, and keep from all temptation! But if temptation come to you, do not be afraid, for I hold you to be truly the servant of God, and more worthy of love, the harder you are oppressed by temptation… – At all times … we must have a true and humble faith, and keep Him in our hearts… (Rule 1221,chpt.23)

14

And I tell you in all sincerity that no person should account himself to be a perfect friend of God until he has passed through manifold temptations and tribulations. – We must love, honor, adore, serve, praise and bless, glorify and acclaim, magnify and thank, the most high supreme and eternal God, Three and One, Father, Son and holy Spirit … (Rule 1221,chpt.23)

15

St. Francis was not only absorbed in God…but was also comforted often by angelic visitations. One day…he said: O lord God, when I am dead, what will become of this Your poor family, which in Your goodness You have committed to me, a sinner?  Who will comfort, who will correct, who will pray to You for it? – We must all keep close watch over ourselves or we will be lost and turn our minds and hearts from God. (Rule 1221,chpt.22)

16

An angel of God appeared to him and comforted him with these words: I declare to you on behalf of God, that your Order shall never fail until the day of judgment, and no sinner, be he ever so great, who shall bear a hearty love to your Order, shall find mercy with God. No man shall live long who shall maliciously persecute it.  Nor shall any evildoer, who shall refuse to amend his lifelong persevere in your Order… – Guard with jealous watchfulness the times of private prayer. (The Principles, SSF)

17

Do not be grieved if you notice some brothers who are not good and do not observe the Rule as they ought…for they shall always be many who will observe with great perfection the life of Christ’s Gospel and the purity of the Rule.  And all these, after their bodily life is ended, shall enter into life eternal without passing through Purgatory… – Corporate worship is not a substitute for the quiet communion of the individual soul with God. (The Principles, SSF)

18

The feast of our Lady’s assumption drew near, and St. Francis sought for a more secret and solitary place in which he might spend alone the Lent of St. Michael the Archangel … Thus on the Feast of the assumption St. Francis began the holy Lent with great abstinence and austerity, macerating his body and invigorating his soul with fervent prayers, vigils, and disciplines … going from virtue to virtue… – Do not condemn or look down on people … each one should rather condemn and despise himself. (Rule 1223,chpt.2)

19

As the Feast of the Holy Cross drew near, in the month of September, Brother Leo went one night…he heard (St. Francis’) voice in fervor of spirit (saying): Who are You, Lord? And who am I, a most vile worm and Your most unprofitable servant? And these words he repeated over and over again … – Humility is the recognition of the truth about God and ourselves, the recognition of our own insufficiency and dependence, seeing that we have nothing which we have not received. (The Principles, SSF)

20

It was given to me to understand that these three offerings signified holy obedience, most entire poverty, and most pure chastity, which God by His grace has enabled me so perfectly to observe… God has infused such virtue into my soul, that for all the gifts and graces which His sovereign bounty He has bestowed upon me, I should always with heart and voice praise and magnify Him… – I entreat all … to put away every attachment, all care and solicitude, and serve, love, honor, and adore our Lord and God with a pure heart and mind … (Rule 1221,chpt.22)

21

The day before the Feast of the holy Cross…and angel of God…spoke thus from God: I am come to admonish and encourage you, that you prepare yourself to receive in all patience and humility what God will give you. St. Francis replied: I am ready to bear patiently whatsoever my Lord shall be pleased to send me. – Make a dwelling place within yourself where God can stay. (Rule 1221,chpt.22 adapted)

22

The Feast of the Holy Cross St. Francis was praying before daybreak…and turning his face to the east, prayed in these words: O Lord Jesus Christ, two graces do I ask You before I die: the first, that in my lifetime I may feel, as far as possible, both in my soul and body, that pain which You, sweet Lord, endured in the hour of Your most bitter Passion… – Blessed is the one who obeys quietly when he is corrected, confesses his fault humbly and makes atonement cheerfully. (Admonitions, 23)

23

…the second, that I may feel in my heart as much as possible of that excess of love by which You, O Son of God, were inflamed to suffer so cruel a Passion for us sinners.  And continuing a long time in that prayer, he understood that God had heard him, and that, so far as possible for a mere creature, he should be permitted to feel these things. – Blessed the one who is in no hurry to make excuses … (Admonitions, 23)

24

St. Francis began to contemplate most devoutly the Passion of Jesus Christ and His infinite charity…And being thus inflamed in that contemplation, on that same morning he beheld a seraph descending from heaven with six fiery and resplendent wings, and this seraph with rapid flight drew near to St. Francis, so that he could plainly discern him and perceive that he bore the image of one crucified… – What are God’s servants but His minstrels, who must inspire the hearts of men and stir them to spiritual joy. (Mirror of Perfection, 100)

25

It was revealed to him by Him who appeared that by divine providence his vision had been thus shown to him that he might understand that, not by martyrdom of the body, but by a consuming fire of the soul, he was to be transformed into the express image of Christ crucified in that wonderful apparition. – One is truly clean of heart when he has no time for the things of this world but is always searching for the things of heaven, never failing to keep God before his eyes … (Admonitions, 16)

26

Then did all Mount Alvernia appear wrapped in intense fire, which illumined all the mountains and valleys around…In this seraphic apparition, Christ, Who appeared under that form to St. Francis, spoke to him certain high and secret things, which in his lifetime he would never reveal to any person…After his death he made them known to one of the brothers… – It is wrong for anyone to be anxious to receive more from his neighbor than he himself is willing to give to God. (Admonitions, 17)

27

(St. Francis spoke to the brother in vision): Christ said: Do you know what I have done to you?  I have given you the stigmata which are the insignia of My Passion, that you may be My standard-bearer, and as on the day of My death I descended into limbo and by virtue of these My stigmata delivered all the souls whom I found there, so do I grant to you that every year on the anniversary of your death you may go to Purgatory, and take with you to the glory of paradise all the souls of your three Orders…and all others especially devout to you, that so you may be conformed to Me in death, and you have been like Me in life. – Blessed that person who takes no more pride in the good that God says and does through him, than in that which he says and does through someone else. (Admonitions, 17)

28

After long and secret conference together, that marvelous vision disappeared, leaving in the heart of St. Francis an excessive fire and ardor of divine love, and on his flesh a wonderful trace and image of the Passion of Christ.  For upon his hands and feet began immediately to appear the figures of the nails…the hands and feet appeared pierced through the midst by nails…In like manner, on the right side appeared the image of an unsealed wound, as if made by a lance, and still red and bleeding, from which drops of blood often flowed from the holy breast of St. Francis… – True knowledge is the knowledge of God. (The Principles, SSF)

29

Know, Brother Francis, that not for yourself alone, but for others, does God reveal His secrets to you, and therefore you have cause for fear lest you be worthy of censure if you conceal that which, for the good of others, has been made known to you. – The highest wisdom is that holy wisdom whereby the soul is made one with God. (The Principles, SSF)

30

During the time from Thursday evening until Saturday morning, he would not by any human remedy mitigate the pain of Christ’s Passion which he bore in his body, because at that time our Savior Jesus Christ was taken and crucified, died and was buried for us…St. Francis, having concluded the Lent of St. Michael the Archangel, prepared himself…to return…to St. Mary of the Angels – One really loves his enemy when he is not offended by the injury done to himself … and proves his love in a practical way. (Admonitions, 9)