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January 2022 Thoughts for the Day by Father Francis Sariego, OFM Cap

My apologies for the lateness in posting the January writings of Father Francis.  Some lovely person took over my debit card and my email account more than a week ago and it  has been difficult regaining control.  The devil herself has been after me!

January 2022

Lord, just as I believe that at an earlier time 

(I may have been sinful and not fully open to Your will) 

so now I realize that, because of Your abundant mercy 

and in Your own time, You have shown an abundance of Your mercies to (me)… 

Give glory to Your name, 

(may I) offer the fragrance of good life, doctrine, and good reputation 

to the whole Christian people. 

I ask you therefore, Lord Jesus Christ, Father of mercies, 

not to consider (my) ingratitude. 

May (I) always be mindful of the abundant mercies which you have shown (me)

that (I) may always … glorify Your name blessed and glorious throughout the ages. 

Amen.

 (Paraphrase [in parenthesis] of the blessing of Saint Francis for the City of Assisi 

Excerpts of for each day are taken from the Legend of the Three Companions 

Chapter XI 

THE RECEPTION OF FOUR OTHER BROTHERS 

AND THE MOST BURNING CHARITY THEY HAD FOR EACH OF THE FIRST BROTHERS, 

OF THEIR EAGERNESS IN WORKING AND PRAYING AND THEIR PERFECT OBEDIENCE

1

People then saw that the brothers rejoiced in their tribulations, persisted in prayer with eagerness and devotion, neither accepted nor carried money, and possessed a great love for one another; and through this they were known to be really the Lord’s disciples. –  Lord teach me to be generous. Teach me to serve you as you deserve.

2

Many came to them with heartfelt sorrow, asking pardon for the offenses they had committed against them. They forgave them from their hearts, saying: “May the Lord forgive you,” and encouraged them soundly about their eternal salvation – God says: With your very wounds I will heal you.

3

Some asked those brothers to receive them into their company. And because of the small number of the brothers—all six of them possessed authority from blessed Francis to receive others into the Order—they accepted some of them into their company.  – Never fear shadows. They simply mean there’s light shining somewhere nearby.

4

After they were received, they all returned at a predetermined time to Saint Mary of the Portiuncula. When they saw one another again, however, they were filled with such delight and joy, as if they didn’t remember anything of what they had endured at the hands of the wicked. – All we see teaches us to trust the Creator we have not seen.

5

Each day they were conscientious in prayer and working with their hands to avoid all idleness, the enemy of the soul. – Give me faith, Lord, and let me help others find it.

6

They rose conscientiously in the middle of the night, and prayed most devoutly with copious tears and sighs.-  Lord, teach me to give and not count the cost.

7

They loved each other deeply, served one another, and took care of each other as a mother for an only and beloved child. – A humble knowledge of oneself is a sure way to God

8

Charity burned so ardently in them that it seemed easy for them to give their bodies to death, not only for the love of Christ, but also for the salvation of the soul or the body of their confreres. – Underneath the masks there are in every person, there is a noble nature.

9

One day, when two of the brothers were walking along, they came across a simpleton who began to throw rocks at them. One of them, noticing that stones were being thrown at the other, ran directly in front of him, preferring that the stones strike him rather than his brother. –  We will not be judged on our successes but on our love and faithfulness.

10

Because of the mutual charity with which they burned, they were prepared to lay down their life in this way, one for the other. – It is better to be patient than powerful

11                                                       

They were so rooted and grounded in humility and love, that one respected the other as father and master, while those who excelled by way of the office of prelate or some grace, seemed humble and more self-effacing than the others. – It is better to win control over yourself than over others.

12

They all dedicated themselves wholeheartedly to obedience, ever prepared for the will of the one giving orders. They did not distinguish between a just and an unjust command because they considered whatever they were ordered to be the Lord’s will.- God give me the serenity to accept, even joyfully, that part of myself that I can’t change.

13

Fulfilling commands, therefore, was pleasant and easy for them. – Lord give me the courage to change that part of me that I ought to change.

14

They abstained from carnal desires, judging themselves carefully and taking care that in no way would one offend the other. – Be thankful for your handicaps, for it is through them that you will find yourself, your work, and your God.

15

If it ever happened that one uttered an annoying word to another, his conscience troubled him, so much so that he could not rest until he admitted his fault. – Things “turn out best” for those who make the best of the way things “turn out”.

16

He would humbly prostrate himself on the ground, so that his brother would place his foot over his mouth. If the brother who was offended refused to do this, then the brother who offended him, if he were a prelate, would order him to do so. – Make sure the thing you’re living for is worth dying for.

17

If he were a subject, he would have a prelate give the order. In this way, with the grace of Jesus Christ anticipating and helping them, they strove to banish all ill will and malice from their midst, to preserve among them always perfect love, and, to combat, as far as possible, each vice by practicing a corresponding virtue. – Nothing here below is profane for those who know how to se the sacred in everything.

18

Moreover, they did not appropriate anything as their own, but used books or other items in common according to the pattern handed down and observed by the apostles. – You can’t turn back the clock. But you can wind it up again.

19

Although there was real poverty in and among them, they were generous and openhanded with everything given them for God’s sake. –  Now is the time for strong minds, great hearts, true faith, and ready hands!

20

The alms freely given to them out of His love, they gave to all those who begged from them, especially to the poor. – God’s presence is not discerned at the time it is upon us but afterward when we look back.

21

In fact, if they were traveling along the road and found the poor begging from them for the love of God, when they had nothing to offer them, they would give them some of their clothing even though it was shabby. – God exists within us more intimately than we exist within ourselves.

22

Sometimes they gave their capuche, tearing it from the tunic; at other times they gave a sleeve, or tore off a part of their habit, that they might fulfill that Gospel passage “Give to all who beg from you.” – The Lord has a plan for each one of us, even though we might not know it yet.

23

One day, however, a poor man begging alms came to the church of Saint Mary of the Portiuncula, near where the brothers sometimes stayed. There was a cloak there that a brother wore while in the world. When blessed Francis told him to give it to that poor man, he gave it to him freely and quickly. – We are the hands and eyes through which God’s compassion can shine upon a troubles world.

24

And immediately, because of the reverence and devotion which that brother had in giving the cloak to the poor man, it seemed to him that the alms rose up into heaven and he felt himself inundated by a new happiness. – Unless we have within us that which is above us, we shall soon yield to what is around us.

25

When, in fact, the rich of this world would go out of their way for them, they received them quickly and kindly, striving to call them from evil and prompting them to do penance. – We should all try to learn before we die what we are running, from, and to, and why.

26

They also eagerly sought not to be sent to the lands where they had been raised, that they might avoid association and dealings with their relatives and could observe the prophetic word: “I have become an outcast to my brothers, a stranger to my mother’s sons.” – People may doubt what we say, but they’ll believe what we do.

27

They rejoiced most in poverty, because they did not desire riches, but spurned everything transitory that can be desired by those enamored of this world. –  Desire to get involved in God’s plan, regardless of the cost.

28

Above all, they trampled upon money as if it were dirt under their feet and, as they had been taught by the saint, considered it as equal in worth and weight to the dung of an ass. –  We tend to forget that we have an unbelievable control over our destiny.

29

They constantly rejoiced in the Lord, not having within themselves nor among themselves anything that could make them sad. – Today’s decision is tomorrow’s reality.

30

For the more they were separated from the world, the more they were united to God.  – The enemy of the best is not the worst, but the good enough.

31

As they advanced on the way of the cross and the paths of justice, they cleared all hindrances from the narrow path of penance and of the observance of the Gospel, that they might make a smooth and safe path for the future. – Troubles are often the means God uses to fashion people into something better than they are.

 

 

 

 

 

January 2022 Monthly Meditation by Father Francis Sariego, OFM Cap

My apologies for the lateness in posting the January writings of Father Francis.  Some lovely person took over my debit card and my email account more than a week ago and it  has been difficult regaining control.  The devil herself has been after me!

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 2022

Dear Sisters and Brothers in St. Francis,

The Lord bless you and keep you. 

The Lord let his face shine upon you, and be gracious to you! 

The Lord look upon you kindly and give you peace! 

(St. Francis of Assisi)

May He live in you. May you always live in Him.

(St. Clare of Assisi adapted)

The image of our Blessed Mother introduces us into an experience of faith-filled events during the New Year 2022. The events presented throughout Sacred Scripture that we will hear during our Sunday or daily liturgies will speak to us profoundly about ourselves and our relationship with God and one another. Our Mother Mary is the highest honor of our race (cfr. Judith 13). Like the great Judith of the Old Testament who fearlessly led and liberated her people and of whom these words were first spoken, Mary is afforded the highest honor. Our Blessed Mother precedes and far surpasses us in faith. Her availability and courage make her the eminent model for all Christians.  Through her divine maternity, she gives humanity our Redeemer, in Whose Death and Resurrection we are liberated from sin and fear. We are offered the challenge that promises success to those ready to live in the freedom of God’s grace, and in the light of God’s love and will.

The last day of the calendar year reminds us that every end is a new beginning. In the Gospel for that day, the Apostle John reminds us:  In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God…He came to His own and His own did not receive Him…To as many as did receive Him, He empowered to become the children of God…those begotten not by human means, but by God (John 1). The Eternal Word entered a profound relationship with humanity at His Conception in the virginal womb of Mary.

The people of Israel continued to pray in hope. They expected the God of vindication to reveal His power and subdue their enemies. The Word, however, entered the scene of this world as a simple human being. He was subject to all the experiences of time and human nature, except sin. His identity remained so concealed that He was rejected by many of His own. He eventually received an untimely death by execution as a common criminal and instigator of the people against Mosaic Law and Roman rule!

St. John tells us that those who accepted Him would become the children of God (John 1: 12). This adoption in the Spirit allows us to say Abba, Father (cfr. Romans 8: 15; Mark 14: 36; Galatians 4: 6). The Father sees in us an image of His Son. Jesus, the Incarnate Word of God, accepted the mission entrusted to Him by the Father to enter creation and lead all humanity back to the original grace-filled relationship with God in which humanity was created. We are created to be an overflowing extension of God’s eternal love and life. Goodness of its very nature seeks ever to extend itself. God is the essence of goodness. Thus the extension of His goodness is found in creation. The glory of God is Man come to full stature (St. Irenaeus adapted). We are the highest form of creation. We are the epitome in this world of the kaleidoscope of God’s unique yet varied image. If we only recognized and appreciated the dignity in which we were created and the majesty to which we are called!  O Christian, recognize your dignity (St. Leo the Great – sermon on the Incarnation). The more we exemplify the life of Jesus in our own lives, the more we recognize and begin to restore that dignity and wonder to creation.

It is interesting how brief the liturgical season of Advent/Christmas is. Advent preparation lasts no more than four weeks, and the Christmas celebration of the infancy and childhood of Jesus may last no more than two weeks.  No sooner do the Wise Men leave the house where they offer their gifts – symbolizing love, prayer and sacrifice – to the Child Jesus, than the liturgy introduces us to the wilderness of the Baptist’s desert where in the Jordan River Jesus begins His journey to Jerusalem and the cross. From the Crib to the Cross is the life of Jesus:  Bethlehem to Calvary! Life to Death and New Life! All for us!

Jerusalem is the City of the Most High, where God’s Temple speaks of a mysterious presence among the People, the People God chose to be His own. Jerusalem is where Jesus makes His Father’s Presence known and seen in Himself, the Word-made-flesh. Jerusalem is the City of Peace where the Prince of Peace enters, is proclaimed, rejected, and crucified…and rises! As the journey to Jerusalem begins for Jesus, we too journey with the Infant and the Man: the Child of hope and the Man of Fulfillment, the Infant who flees in exile to safety and the Man Who confounds his enemies, the Infant who needs protection and the Man Whose miracles marvel those who benefit from them confounded those who opposed Him. We become one in prayer and reflection – one in the Spirit – with our Lord and Savior, Jesus the Christ.

Jesus is the Promised One of God (cfr. Genesis 3) offered to our first parents in the Garden of Eden. He is The One Anticipated for centuries in the words of the prophets and the hearts of the people. He is The One Who bursts into time from eternity (cfr. Wisdom 18: 14-15) when Mary says Yes (cfr. Luke 1:26-38) to the Father’s invitation for her to be humanity’s spokesperson and Mother of His and thus her Son. The fulfillment of the Father’s promise and Jesus’ mission reached its climax during those few years that lead to the wood of the Cross at Calvary. From the beginning of His earthly journey the wood of the Cross is prefigured in the wood of the manger at Bethlehem. One wood embraces the Infant, the other receives the Man. One wood protects the Infant, the other wood raises the Man in ignominy and glory. One wood makes people wonder in joy at the Infant, the other wood makes people responsible for their lives before the Man.  One wood speaks of the beginning of a life, the other wood proclaims the beginning of Life. One wood reminds us of the doors of Bethlehem closed to that young life, the other wood reminds us of the Doors of Eternity opened for all to enter Life. Again, as St. Francis, exclaimed: O sublime humility! O humble sublimity!`

We have celebrated a brief yet powerful season. Like the introduction or preface to a good story, we have been introduced into a life that we must not only read, but live. It would be consoling and pleasant to remain in the nostalgia of the intimacy of the Infancy of Jesus. The intimacy of the Family of Nazareth speaks of the normal challenges of daily life. Everyone encounters these challenges in one way or another. When we accept the invitation of the Master, who summons us to Follow Me, our life begins to have purpose and fulfillment. Leaving the comfort and security of the past, we begin to notice new horizons and achieve greater goals than we had ever imagined. One does not discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the shore. (Andre Gide)  We must leave the security of sight to travel in the light of a trusting faith that leads where God wills, and to all we could ever imagine or desire.

The beginning of the calendar year is always surrounded by the thought of new beginnings. Many see the New Year as an opportunity to clean the slate and begin all over again. We could attempt this, but it is really impossible to do.  No matter how much we may try to put past things out of our minds, they are still with us. Past events and decisions are either in our thoughts, or their consequences in one way or another seem to affect the circumstances of life. Who we are depends greatly on where we have come from and the decisions we make.  And where we go depends on how we build and learn from past experiences. We cannot remain in the past. We cannot allow ourselves to be walled into a nostalgic reminiscence of historical facts.  We must forge forward in God’s will. The Will of God provides for those who trust in Him. Acceptance of His Will leads to and guides through ways often never imagined, but always fruitful for those who let God be their Forerunner, Scout and Guide.

We die on the day when our lives cease to be illumined by the steady radiance, renewed daily, of wonder, the source of which is beyond reason (former Secretary General of the U.N., Dag Hammarskjold). The “source” is the Father Who illumines us through His Spirit as we wonder at the magnificence of the mystery revealed in Jesus His Son. We no longer wander through life aimlessly.  We are led by faith in that same Spirit. How can anyone just sit back and not be excited about the numerous possibilities God offers us each day! God calls us to proclaim His goodness with our lives and to be His heralds of hope. We are instruments of God entrusted with the mission of enkindling hope in a world that often lives in shallowness. The world is always being seduced by the ancient serpent. This “spirit of division and confusion” even had the audacity to contend with Jesus His entire earthly life. The same “serpent” continues to contend with the Mystical Body of Christ till the end of the ages.

Our Seraphic Father St. Francis of Assisi loved the mystery of the Incarnation. The gentleness and love of the Savior’s Birth in the poverty of Bethlehem filled him with a tenderness and love for so gentle and humble a sublime and supreme God. The Infant Jesus, for St. Francis, was the little playful lamb at Bethlehem prepared by the Father to be the sacrificial lamb on Calvary. The Poverello’s simplicity, humility, innocence, love were all images of the Jesus Whose visible image he became at La Verna. This Divine Intimacy St. Francis experienced enveloped his life.  What an example of Seraphic Father offers us to emulate! What a challenge for us this New Year!

St. Francis entered the peace of God in his early years and was led quite soon to the God of peace.  God asks that we seek not the feeling of God but the God Who excels all feeling. God asks that we enter the mystery of His hidden yet uniquely obvious presence. How can we seem to always wait to see the miracles of God before accepting the truth of His Presence! Our Seraphic Father lived in the mystery that enfolds and protects with love and truth, but does not always caress with feeling.  St. Francis offered those who asked to follow in his footsteps the possibility of sharing in becoming Christ to the world. The example and words of St. Francis of Assisi led others to disarm their hearts day-by-day to everyone and everything.

A we enter the New Year of Grace 2022 the following could be a simple prayer as well as a reflection of gratitude and trust in the goodness and graciousness of God throughout life:

For all the Yesterdays, THANK YOU, GOD! 

For Today, THANK YOU, GOD! 

For all the Tomorrows, YES! YES! And AGAIN YES! ABBA! 

May God bless us, and Our Heavenly Mother and good Saint Joseph, with our beloved parents, Saints Francis and Clare of Assisi, guide, guard, and protect us and our loved ones now and throughout the New Year 2022 in God’s Grace and Providence.

Blessed and Happy New Year 2022 

Peace and Blessings 

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

Regional Spiritual Assistant

 

December 2021 Thoughts for the Day by Fr. Francis Sariego, OFM Cap

December 2021 

The daily excerpts for each day are taken from The Legend of the Three Companions 

 Chapter IX 

THE VOCATION OF BROTHER SYLVESTER 

AND THE VISION HE HAD BEFORE ENTERING THE ORDER 

As we have said, while Lord Bernard was giving all his possessions to the poor, blessed Francis was at his side assisting him, glorifying and praising the Lord in his heart, in awe at the astounding work of the Lord. A priest named Sylvester, from whom the blessed Francis had purchased stones for the repair of the church of San Damiano, came. – Calvary is the hill of the saints

Seeing so much money being given away on the man of God’s advice, he was consumed by a burning passion of greed, and said to him: and said to him: “Francis, you did not completely pay me for the stones which you bought from me.” The scorner of greed, hearing him complaining unjustly, approached Lord Bernard, and putting his hand into his cloak where the money was, in great fervor of spirit, filled it with a handful of coins, and gave them to the disgruntled priest. – Trust in God’s authority and do not fear the storms that may surround you

He filled his hand with money a second time, and said to him: “Do you now have full payment, Lord Priest?” “I have it completely, brother,” he replied. Overjoyed, he returned home with his money. – Whoever obeys God will sing victory

But after a few days that same priest, inspired by the Lord, began to reflect on these things blessed Francis had done, and he said to himself: “Am I not a miserable man? Old as I am, don’t I still covet and desire the things of this world? And this young man despises and scorns them all for the love of God!” – May Jesus be your comfort, sustenance, and compensation. 

The following night he saw in a dream an immense cross. Its top reached to the heavens, its base rested fixed in the mouth of the blessed Francis, and its arms stretched from one part of the world to the other. When he woke, therefore, the priest understood and resolutely believed that Francis was indeed Christ’s friend and servant, and the religion which he founded would spread all over the world. – Take heart. He suffers with you, groans with you, and is pleased with you

From then on he began to fear God and to do penance in his own home. At last, after a little while, he entered the Order in which he lived excellently and ended gloriously. –  Every predestined soul must resemble Jesus. 

The man of God, Francis, accompanied by his two brothers, had no place to stay, so he moved with them to a poor little abandoned church, which was called Saint Mary of the Portiuncula. And there they built a little hut in which they would live from time to time. After a few days, an Assisian, named Giles, came to them and, on his knees, begged the man of God with great reverence and devotion to accept him into his company. – Unite yourself more to Jesus, and don’t lose heart in difficulties. 

When the man of God saw how unusually faithful and devout the man was, realizing that he was able to obtain great grace from God, as later became clear by his success, he received him with open arms. These four, united in immense happiness and the joy of the Holy Spirit, separated for greater spiritual advantage. – Calm yourself and with holy indifference carry on with your tasks. 

Blessed Francis, taking Brother Giles with him, went into the Marches of Ancona; the other two went into another area. While going to the Marches, they rejoiced enthusiastically in the Lord; the holy man, however, sang with a loud and clear voice, in French, the praises of the Lord, blessing and glorifying the goodness of the Most High. There was as much happiness in them as if they had found a great treasure in the evangelical field of Lady Poverty. –  Don’t become impatient over your daily struggles. 

10 

The saint told Brother Giles: “Our religion will be like a fisherman who casts his nets into the water catching a great number of fish, and, leaving the small ones in the water, he puts the large ones into his basket.” Thus he prophesied that the Order would expand. – Humble yourself before God

11 

Even though the man of God did not yet fully preach to the people, when he went through cities and towns, he encouraged everyone to fear and love God and to do penance for their sins. Brother Giles, on the other hand, exhorted his listeners to believe him because he gave them the best advice. – Confide all your needs to God

12 

Those who heard them would say: “Who are these men?” and “What are these words they’re saying?” For, at that time, love and fear of God were non-existent almost everywhere, and the way of penance was not only completely unknown, but it was also considered folly. –  Keep Jesus present to your gaze

13 

Lust for the flesh, greed for the world, and pride of life was so widespread, that the whole world seemed to be engulfed in these three malignancies. There was a diversity of opinions about these evangelical men. Some declared that they were fools or drunkards, while others maintained that such words did not come from fools. – Be humble and be more humble. 

14 

After they had traveled around that province, they returned to the place called Saint Mary’s. After a few days had elapsed, however, three other men from Assisi, Sabbatino, Morico, and John de Capella, came to them, begging blessed Francis to receive them as brothers. He received them humbly and kindly. – You are not the object of God’s vengeance, but of God’s love. 

15 

When they were begging alms throughout the city, hardly anyone would give to them…Even their own relatives and families would persecute those men, and others in the city mocked them as senseless and stupid, because no one at that time would abandon what was his to go begging alms from door to door. – All that happens to us is an effect of God’s love. 

16 

The bishop of the city of Assisi, to whom the man of God would frequently go for counsel, receiving him kindly, told him: “It seems to me that your life is very rough and hard, especially, in not possessing anything in this world.” To which the saint said: “Lord, if we had possessions, we would need arms for our protection. For disputes and lawsuits usually arise out of them, and, because of this, love of God and neighbor are greatly impeded. Therefore, we do not want to possess anything in this world.” – All that happens to us is a trial, a vocation, and a cause of glory for all who surrender to God’s will. 

17 

The man of God’s response greatly pleased the bishop. For Francis scorned all worldly goods, but money most of all; so much so, that in all his rules he most forcefully commended poverty and repeated that the brothers be eager to avoid money. He expressed his scorn of money: “May we who have left all things, then, be careful of not losing the kingdom of heaven for so little. If we find coins anywhere, let us pay no more attention to them than to the dust we trample underfoot.” – The Lord is with you always. Do not be anxious

Chapter X 

HOW HE PREDICTED TO HIS SIX COMPANIONS 

ALL THAT WOULD HAPPEN TO THEM ON THEIR JOURNEYS THROUGHOUT THE WORLD EXHORTING THEM TO PENANCE 

18 

Calling together the six brothers, Saint Francis,  predicted to them what was about to happen. “Dearest brothers,” he said, “let us consider our vocation, to which God has mercifully called us, not only for our own good, but for the salvation of many. We are to go throughout the world, encouraging everyone, more by deed than by word, to do penance for their sins and to recall the commandments of God. Do not be afraid that you seem few and uneducated. – At all times and in every circumstance trust in the love and goodness of our God. 

19 

With confidence, simply proclaim penance, trusting in the Lord, who conquered the world. Because by His Spirit, He is speaking through and in you, encouraging everyone to be converted to Him and to observe His commandments. –  Keep Jesus as the center of your heart. 

20 

“You will find some faithful people, meek and kind, who will receive you and your words with joy. You will find many others, faithless, proud, and blasphemous, who will resist and reject you and what you say. Therefore, resolve in your hearts to bear these things with patience and humility.” – Humble yourself before the Lord with complete confidence

21 

When the brothers heard this, they began to be afraid. The saint told them: “Do not fear, because after not much time many learned and noble men will come to us, and will be with us preaching to kings and rulers and great crowds. Many people will be converted to the Lord, Who will multiply and increase His family throughout the entire world.” – Live in the presence of Jesus in your mind, your heart, in the Sacrament of the Altar

22 

Whenever they came upon a church or a cross, they bowed in prayer and said with devotion: “We adore you, Christ, and we bless you in all your churches throughout the whole world, because, by your holy cross, you have redeemed the world.” For they believed they would find a place of God wherever they found a cross or a church. –  The Holy Eucharist is the great means through which you can aspire to perfection

23 

(When asked who are you and where to come from) they responded simply that they were penitents originally from the city of Assisi. In many places, after they had suffered a number of insults, they sought lodging in the porticos of churches and homes. – Receive the Eucharist with desire. 

24 

A man, named Guido, was distributing alms to the poor who were in the church. When he came to the brothers and wanted to give money to each one of them, as he had done to the others, they refused the money and did not want to accept it. – Do not desire to be anything more that what you are and what God has called you to be,  

25 

But he said to them: “Since you are poor, why don’t you accept the coins like the others?” Brother Bernard answered: “While it is true that we are poor, poverty is not burdensome for us as it is for other poor people. For, by the grace of God, we have willingly made ourselves poor. It is His counsel we fulfilled.” – Unite your heart with the Heart of Jesus and be simple-hearted as He desires

26 

Astonished at these things and asking if they had ever possessed anything, he heard from them that they had indeed possessed much. For the love of God, though, they had given everything to the poor. The one who answered in this way was Brother Bernard, the first disciple of blessed Francis, whom today we truly believe to be a most holy father. – In spite of our own unworthiness, our merciful Lord has adorned us with the gift of His holy love. 

27 

He was the first to run after the holy one of God, embracing the delegation of peace and penance. Selling everything he possessed and giving to the poor, according to the counsel of Gospel perfection, he persevered to the end in most holy poverty. When that woman reflected that the brothers did not want the coins, she approached them and told them that she would gladly receive them into her home if they wanted lodging there. – Give glory to the heavenly Father and be transformed in Him! 

28 

The brothers answered humbly: “May the Lord reward you for your good will.” That man, however, hearing that the brothers were unable to find lodging, took them to his house, saying: “Look, this is the lodging the Lord has prepared for you. Stay in it according to your pleasure.” – The human spirit without the flame of divine love, tends to reach the level of the beasts. 

29 

Giving thanks to God, they stayed with him several days, edifying him in the fear of the Lord, more by example than by word. Afterwards, he gave much to the poor. – With faith and hope you will arm yourself in order to sustain all that you are called to bear. 

30 

Suffering all these things steadfastly and patiently, as blessed Francis had admonished them, they did not become dejected or disturbed, nor did they curse those who brought evil upon them. –  Remember that you are the child of a merciful Father who is indulgent toward you.  

31 

On the contrary, as perfectly evangelical men, placed at a great advantage, they greatly exulted in the Lord, considering it pure joy when they fell into temptations and trials of this sort. According to the word of the Gospel, they prayed carefully and enthusiastically for their persecutors. – Practice mercy rather than justice, in imitation of your heavenly Father

 May the Lord bless you and keep you 

Show His face to you and have mercy on you, 

Look on you with kindness and grant you His peace. 

And throughout the New Year 2022 

May the Lord live with you and may you always live with Him

Happy and Blessed New Year 2022 To All 

December 2021 Reflections by Fr. Francis Sariego, OFM Cap

St. Katherine Drexel Regional Fraternity 

Regional Spiritual Assistant 

St. Francis of Assisi Friary 

1901 Prior Road 

Wilmington, Delaware 19809 

 

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

December 2021 

Dear Sisters and Brothers in St. Francis, 

The Lord give you his peace! 

Our Seraphic Father writes in his Testament: I see nothing corporally of the Most High Son of God except His most holy Body and Blood. I want to have these most holy mysteries honored and venerated above all things and I want to reserve them in precious places. The life of Saint Francis of Assisi, because he lived the Gospel ‘without gloss’, was a life lived immersed in the reality of the presence of Jesus.  Thus, the Real Presence of the Sacramental Lord in the Eucharist was his strength and life.  The mystery of the Savior, Son of the Most High God, Who became one with humanity in time at Bethlehem and for all time in the Eucharist was a mystery St. Francis sought to live and proclaim throughout his life. Greccio was but a visible sign of the deep love for the mystery of the Incarnation re-presented mystically at each Eucharist.  The Christ he loved so much was the Christ Whose living image he would become for all to see on Mount La Verna.   

The night of Greccio was lighted with candles, embellished with hymns, studded with people from all walks of life who followed the Poverello to ‘see’ the poverty of the One Who emptied Himself of His divinity that He might redeem our humanity and rekindle a world grown indifferent to His love.  He came to His own, but His own did not receive Him.  But to those who did receive Him, He gave power to become the children of God ... (John 1:11-12)  Those who experienced the wonderful simplicity and childlike representation of Bethlehem’s ‘welcome’ into our world, were filled with emotions that made that night so memorable, that for centuries Christians of many religious denominations continue the practice St. Francis initiated at Greccio. The historical Christ, the Bread of Angels and Bread of God’s children, born in Bethlehem of Judah, born in ‘the House of Bread’ centuries before, seemed to come alive in the arms of St. Francis. St Francis that night at Greccio re-confirmed the total emptying of himself together with all who accepted the challenge of the Gospel Life.  Greccio was but another expression of the Poverello’s response to the Cross of San Damiano: Francis, rebuild My Church. For, as you can see, it is falling into ruin. The restoration of the Church, the Mystical Body of Christ made of living stones, God’s people, once again experienced the warmth of God’s love as God’s people sought to relive with St. Francis the Sublime Humility and the Humble Sublimity of Bethlehem. 

The world seemed to stop that night.  Time was transported back twelve hundred years, and hearts were catapulted into thoughts of a loving God Who stopped at nothing to get our attention and to make us one with Him. The words St. Francis spoke and the Gospel he sang as Deacon at the Mass celebrated at Greccio came from a heart in love with God. That night, Love was contagious!  If only it could have remained that way forever!  To stay there would have been beautiful, but also selfish(?). We must not keep a moment so wonderful for ourselves alone! We must bring the joy we know and radiate it to others. With Mary, our Blessed Mother, Virgin Made Church, Francis offered his own ‘yes’ that the Real Presence of the Eucharist, and the represented presence of the Incarnation-Birth of Jesus at Bethlehem in Greccio, might be ingrained in the hearts of all. Prayerfully praising the tremendous gift of the Eucharist, our Seraphic Father simply and magnificently offers a meditation on the wonderful exchange of the humanity and the divinity in Jesus, awesomely present in the Most Blessed Sacrament of the Altar.  The beauty of the prayer deserves to be read:   

O admirable heights and sublime lowliness! O sublime humility! O humble sublimity! That the Lord of the universe, God and the Son of God, so humbles Himself that for our salvation He hides Himself under the little form of bread! Look, brothers, at the humility of God and pour out your hearts before Him! Humble yourselves, as well, that you may be exalted by Him. Therefore, hold back nothing of yourselves for yourselves so that He Who gives Himself totally to you may receive you totally. 

We can see how intimately the Eucharist we possess today and everyday helps us reflect on the wonderful mysteries we celebrate at the beginning of the Church Year. We talk about proclaiming God Who comes to save us.  The Eucharist is the God Who is already among us with the saving power of that Great Sacrifice offered once-for-all that those who look upon the one whom they pierced  (cfr John 19: 37-42) may be saved.  We invite everyone saying, Come, Let us adore the King Who is to come (antiphon liturgy of hours advent)We adore Him hidden in the humility of the small Host and behind the closed doors of the Tabernacle. What our senses cannot perceive, our hearts know undoubtedly that:  His eyes see the depths of the soul, His ears hear the yearnings of the heartHis feet approach all who seek Him in truth, His hands embrace the sincerely penitent and those in need, His lips speak in the silence of our being, His heart is open to welcome all into the Father’s loving embrace. 

The simplicity of the Child of Bethlehem; the trusting faith of Mary and Joseph regarding all they were told about the Child; the poverty of the half-heartedly lent dwelling because there was no place for them at the inn (Luke 2: 7) ; the confusion of the shepherds who had to go see this thing that has taken place that the Lord has made known to us  (Luke 2: 15); the probing curiosity of the Magi who said Where is the newborn King of the Jews? We saw his star at its rising and have come to do Him homage (Matthew 2: 2) ; the intrigue of Herod who was greatly troubled at the news and with him all of Jerusalem (Matthew 2: 3); the heavenly joy of the angels who came to proclaim good news of great joy that will be for all people as they sang Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace (Luke 2: 10)  speak to us of the One Who was born to die so that we could be born to live forever. His earthly life is re-presented over the centuries at many times in various ways in the awesome ‘Gift’ of the Eucharist.  The angels proclaim His glory and adore His Presence. Humanity responds as did the people at Jesus’ time! … joy, indifference, confusion, even open animosity. The history of Bethlehem and the continued ‘Presence’ in the Eucharist speak to each one of us. We cannot separate the Crib from the Cross. The wood of the manger that embraced the Infant Jesus in Bethlehem was only a foreshadowing of the wood of the Cross on which He would be fastened by nails and lifted up on Calvary.  Hidden Glory! … to be revealed to humble searching hearts in the mystery of the sacraments until the fullness of His Glory is revealed at the end of time. Only searching humble hearts find and recognize Him. 

St. Francis loved the feast of Christmas.  The birth of Jesus at Bethlehem was a reality that St. Francis lived every moment of his grace-filled life. In the Eucharist he saw Jesus not born two thousands years ago, but vibrantly alive. He gazed upon the mystery of the Incarnation at each Eucharist.  The whole story of the Birth of Jesus at Bethlehem, and the time that leads up to that moment, is an opportunity for us to follow the example of our Seraphic Father and enter into the song of creation once again as we become players in the great symphony of life that God has written. 

As spiritual Children of St. Francis of Assisi, have we allowed the precious Body and Blood of the Savior to flow through and take over every fiber of our being? Have we allowed the Lord to be ‘enfleshed’ in our lives so that each Christmas we celebrate the Savior present and alive within and among us, and not just a memory of some past event in time? Do we say with Mary, Jesus’ Mother, and with Jesus, Your Will and not mine be done (Mark 14: 36)? Do we strive each day, as Franciscans, to grow into a fresh and vibrant presence of Jesus Who makes Himself seen and known through us? Do we recognize our own incompleteness, vulnerability, and susceptibility so that we can share, support and encourage one another? With the spirit of the childlike, are we as enthused about being Spiritual Children of the Poverello of Assisi and Sisters and Brothers in the Franciscan Family and all that entails (faithfulness to the Gospel Life, Church, Rule, Constitutions, one in mind and heart with the Fraternity, and so forth)? Do we see the gift that we are to each other when we allow the spirit of our Seraphic Father to lead us closer to Jesus and Mary? Rhetorical questions that, when answered honestly in the depths of our hearts, can teach us much about ourselves and our commitment to the Gospel Life in the Franciscan Family.  

Be assured that you and your loved ones will be remembered in a special way in all the Masses I celebrate during this holy season. May God bless you; Our Lady and Good St. Joseph guide, guard and protect you; and our Seraphic Father St. Francis of Assisi and our Holy Mother St. Clare of Assisi watch over each one of us, their Spiritual Children, with loving care. 

In the Name of Jesus I wish all of you a Spirit-filled Advent and a Holy and Happy Christmas Season. As we enter the new calendar year with all its expectations and uncertainties, may our hopes be fulfilled in a world renewed in Jesus and filled with His Spirit. 

A Child is born to us! A Savior is given to us! 

Come, let us adore Him! Fear not! 

It is I!  I have conquered the world! 

Peace and Blessings 

Fr. Francis A. Sariego, O.F.M. Cap. 

Regional Spiritual Assistant 

November 2021 Thought for the Day by Father Francis Sariego, OFM Cap

November 2021

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) 

 

Excerpts from: Legend of the Three Companions 

Daily reflections are taken from various sources

 

 

Chapter VII  

THE HARD WORK AND FATIGUE INVOLVED  

IN RESTORING THE CHURCH OF SAN DAMIANO  

AND HOW HE BEGAN TO OVERCOME HIMSELF BY GOING OUT FOR ALMS 

1

Therefore, Francis, the servant of God, stripped of all that is of the world, is free for divine justice and, despising his own life, he gives himself to divine service in every way he can. Returning to the church of San Damiano, joyful and eager, he made a hermit’s habit for himself, and comforted the priest of that church with the same words with which the bishop had comforted him. –  No talent can survive the blight of neglect.

2

Then, getting up and going back to the city, he began to praise the Lord throughout the piazzas and neighborhoods, like one inebriated with the Spirit. When he finished praising the Lord in this way, he turned to obtaining stones for the repair of the church. “Whoever gives me one stone,” he would say, “will have one reward. Whoever gives me two, will have two rewards. Whoever gives me three, will have that many rewards.” – Envy comes from people’s ignorance of, or lack of belief in, their own gifts.

3

Thus, burning with enthusiasm, he also made many other simple statements. Because he was unlettered and simple, the man chosen by God did not speak in the learned words of human wisdom, but in everything was quite simple. – Don’t hide your talents. They were made to be used.

4

Many ridiculed him thinking he was mad, while others, prompted by piety, were moved to tears seeing how quickly he had come from such pleasure and worldly vanity to such an intoxication of divine love. Disregarding their scorn, he thanked God with burning enthusiasm. – Hell is full of the talented, but Heaven of the energetic.

5

It would be long and difficult to relate how he worked on the project, for he, who had been very refined in his father’s house, hauled stones on his own shoulders, afflicting himself greatly in the service of God. The priest judged the work to be beyond his strength, even though he was offering himself so enthusiastically to divine service. – We judge ourselves by what we feel capable of doing and others judge us by what we have done.

6

Although poor himself, he obtained special food for Francis, for he knew that, while he was in the world, he had lived rather delicately… he said to himself: “Will you find a priest like this wherever you go who will offer you such human kindness? This is not the life of the poor that you have chosen. As a beggar, going from door to door, you should carry a bowl in your hand, and, driven by necessity, you should collect the scraps they give you. This is how you must live willingly, out of love for him who was born poor, lived very poorly in this world, remained naked and poor on the cross, and was buried in a tomb belonging to another.” – Character is formed in the storms of life.

7

As a result, one day he took a bowl and, entering the city, he went door-to-door begging alms. Whenever he put various scraps in his bowl, many who knew what a pampered life he had lived were astonished at how marvelously changed he was, seeing that he held himself in such contempt. – One of the most distressing signs of our times is the denial of guilt.

8

But when he wanted to eat the mixed food offered him, he felt revulsion because he was not accustomed not only to eating such things, but even at looking at them. At last overcoming himself, he began to eat, and it seemed to him that no delicacy had ever tasted so delicious. Then his heart rejoiced in the Lord so much that his flesh, although weak and afflicted, was strong enough to endure joyfully for the Lord anything harsh or bitter. – Lack of wealth is easily repaired, but the poverty of the soul is irreparable.

9

Above all, he gave thanks to God that He had changed the bitter into the sweet, and that He had comforted him in so many ways. Then he told the priest not to prepare or obtain any food for him in the future. – The line separating good and evil passes right through every human heart.

10

When his father saw him in such disgrace, he was filled with unusual pain. Because he loved him dearly, he was ashamed and felt great sorrow for him. Seeing his flesh half-dead from excessive affliction and cold, he would curse him whenever he came upon him. Aware of his father’s curses, the man of God chose a poor and looked-down-upon man to take the place of his father, and told him: “Come with me, and I will give you some of the alms that were given to me. – Pain is God’s loudspeaker to arouse a deaf world.

11

When you see my father cursing me, I will also say to you: ‘Bless me, father.’ You will then make the sign of the cross over me, and bless me in his place.” – God whispers in our pleasures but shouts in our pains.

12

The next time this happened and the beggar was blessing him, the man of God said to his father: “Don’t you believe that God can give me a father to bless me against your curses?” Afterwards, many of those who mocked him and saw how patiently he endured every abuse marveled with great astonishment. – Nothing great was ever done without much enduring.

13

One winter morning, while he was at prayer, dressed in poor clothes, his carnal brother was passing by, and remarked sarcastically to his companion: “You might tell Francis to sell you a penny’s worth of his sweat.” When the man of God heard this, filled with a wholesome joy, he answered enthusiastically in French: “I will sell that sweat to my Lord at a high price.” – What is Calvary if just beyond it lies and Easter morning! 

14

While he was working steadily at restoring the church, he wanted to have a lamp burning continually in the church, so he went through the city begging for oil. But when he was approaching a certain house, he saw a group of men gathered for a game. Ashamed to beg in front of them, he backed away. Mulling it over, he accused himself of having sinned. Hurrying back to the place where they were playing, he told everyone standing around his fault,  that he was ashamed to beg because of them. And, in fervor of spirit, he entered that house and, for the love of God, begged in French for oil for the lamps of that church. – There are too many people we just leave asleep.

15

While laboring with others in that work, he used to cry to passers-by in a loud voice, filled with joy, saying in French: “Come and help me in the work of the church of San Damiano which, in the future, will be a monastery of ladies through whose fame and life our heavenly Father will be glorified throughout the church.” – The greatest of all disorders is to think that we are whole and do not need help.

16

See how, filled with the spirit of prophecy, he truly foretold the future! For this is that sacred place where the glorious religion and most excellent Order of Poor Ladies and sacred virgins had its happy beginning about six years after the conversion of blessed Francis and through the same blessed Francis. – Life is the childhood of our immortality

Chapter VIII 

HEARING AND UNDERSTANDING THE COUNSELS OF CHRIST IN THE GOSPEL,  

HE IMMEDIATELY CHANGED HIS EXTERNAL GARB  

AND PUT ON A NEW HABIT OF INTERNAL AND EXTERNAL PERFECTION 

17

While he was completing the church of San Damiano, blessed Francis wore the habit of a hermit: a staff in his hand, shoes on his feet, and a leather belt around his waist. Then, one day at Mass, he heard those things which Christ tells the disciples who were sent out to preach, instructing them to carry no gold or silver, a wallet or a purse, bread, walking stick, or shoes, or two tunics. – The only ultimate disaster that can befall us is to feel ourselves at home on this earth.

18

After understanding this more clearly because of the priest, he was filled with indescribable joy. “This,” he said, “is what I want to do with all my strength.” And so, after committing to memory everything he had heard, he joyfully fulfilled them, removed his second garment without delay, and from then on never used a walking stick, shoes, purse, or wallet. – The shortest life is the best if it leads us to the eternal.

19

He made for himself a very cheap and plain tunic, and, throwing the belt away, he girded himself with a cord. Applying all the care of his heart to observe the words of new grace as much as possible, he began, inspired by God, to be a messenger of evangelical perfection and, in simple words, to preach penance in public. His words were neither hollow nor ridiculous, but filled with the power of the Holy Spirit, penetrating the marrow of the heart, so that listeners were turned to great amazement. – To believe in immortality is one thing, but it is necessary to believe in the life.

20

As he later testified, he learned a greeting of this sort by the Lord’s revelation: “May the Lord give you peace!” Therefore, in all his preaching, he greeted the people at the beginning of his sermon with a proclamation of peace…This greeting of peace was used before his conversion by a precursor who frequently went through Assisi greeting the people with “Peace and good! Peace and good!” – Love life, and live it bravely and cheerfully and as faithfully as you can.

21

It seems plausible that, as John heralded Christ but withdrew when Christ began his mission of preaching, so too, like another John, this man preceded Francis in using the greeting of peace, but disappeared when he appeared. – Love is the most real thing in the world.

22

Immediately, therefore, filled with the spirit of the prophets, the man of God, Francis, after that greeting, proclaimed peace preached salvation, and, according to a prophetic passage, by his salutary admonitions, brought to true peace many who had previously lived at odds with Christ and far from salvation. – Our generation is remarkable for the number of people who must believe something but do not know what.

23

As both the truth of blessed Francis’s simple teaching as well as that of his life became known to many, two years after his conversion, some men began to be moved to do penance by his example and, leaving all things, they joined him in life and habit. The first of these was Brother Bernard of holy memory. He knew well how luxuriously blessed Francis had lived in the world; now he observed his constancy and zeal in the divine service, how, in particular, he was restoring dilapidated churches with a great deal of work, and what an austere life he was leading. – We are called to be by grace all that Christ is by nature.

24

He planned wholeheartedly to give everything he possessed to the poor, and, with determination, to join him in life and garb. Thanking God, for he did not then have a companion, blessed Francis was overjoyed, especially since Lord Bernard was a person of great stature. – The one who fulfills responsibility with fear, will always be held with honor.

25

On the appointed evening, blessed Francis came to his house, his heart filled with great joy, and spent that whole night with him. Among many things, Lord Bernard said to him: “If, for many years, someone holds on to the possessions, many or few, he has acquired from his lord, and no longer wishes to keep them, what is the better thing for him to do with them?” Blessed Francis answered that he must give back to the lord what was received from him. And Lord Bernard said: “Then, brother, I want to give away all my worldly goods for the love of my Lord who gave them to me, as it seems best to you.” – You can never be credible to others if first you do not believe what you say in your heart.

26

The saint told him: “We will go to the church early in the morning and, through the book of the Gospels, we will learn how the Lord instructed his disciples.” Rising at daybreak, then, together with another man named Peter, who also wanted to become a brother, they went to the church of San Nicolò next to the piazza of the city of Assisi. – Through Baptism we do not belong to the Church, we are the Church.

27

They prayed devoutly that the Lord would show them his will on opening the book the first time. Once they had finished prayer, blessed Francis took the closed book and, kneeling before the altar, opened it. At its first opening, the Lord’s counsel confronted them: If you wish to be perfect, go, sell everything you possess and give to the poor, and you will have a treasure in heaven. – Truth is always the strongest argument.

28

Blessed Francis was overjoyed when he read this passage and thanked God. But since he was a true worshiper of the Trinity, he desired it to be confirmed by a threefold affirmation. He opened the book a second and a third time. When he opened it up the second time he saw: Take nothing for your journey, etc., and at the third opening: If any man wishes to come after me, he must deny himself, etc. Each time he opened the book, blessed Francis thanked God for confirming his plan and the desire he had conceived earlier. –  Truth exists, only falsehood has to be invented.

29

After the third divine confirmation was pointed out and explained, he said to those men, Bernard and Peter: “Brothers, this is our life and rule and that of all who will want to join our company. Go, therefore, and fulfill what you have heard.” Then Lord Bernard, who was very rich, after selling all he had and acquiring a large sum of money, went and distributed it all to the city’s poor. – Truth is narrow, but error goes off in all directions.

30

Peter likewise followed the divine counsel according to his means. After getting rid of everything, they both received the habit which the saint had adopted after he put aside the habit of a hermit; and, from that hour, they lived with him according to the form of the holy Gospel as the Lord had shown them. This is why blessed Francis said in his Testament: “The Lord Himself revealed to me that I should live according to the form of the holy Gospel.” – We expect too much of God, but He always seems ready.

November, 2021 Meditation by Father Francis Sariego, OFM Cap

St. Katherine Drexel Regional Fraternity

Regional Spiritual Assistant

St. Francis of Assisi Friary

1901 Prior Road

Wilmington, Delaware 19809

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

November 2021

Dear Sisters and Brothers in St. Francis,

The Lord give you His peace!

Creation speaks to us of God.  The human mind, through experience, can come to know there is a God, but it is faith that opens our hearts, souls, and minds to deepen our knowledge and awareness of the magnificence of our Creator, our Redeemer, and the ever-present Advocate-Guide-Sanctifier.   Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are known to us and we enter an intimate relationship with this sublime Trinity through God’s revelation of Himself through Jesus in the Spirit. Thus, Faith responds to Revelation.

Once we have read God’s Word in Scripture and recognize His work and attributes in Creation, faith leads us to accept and live the message God speaks to us through these. Sacred Scripture requires faith as a response to revelation.  God calls us to faith, and this call of God is through creation. It is a response in time directed toward eternity. Believing is accepting God as creator, liberator, protector, savior. Belief is recognizing Jesus through His death and resurrection: This Jesus, God raised from the dead. And we are all witnesses to this … therefore, let the whole house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Messiah, this Jesus Whom you crucified.  (Acts 2: 32, 36)

In books we search for God, in prayer we find Him.  The love of God the Father sacrificed His only begotten Son for the salvation of all humanity.  Christ Jesus, totally one with the Father and Holy Spirit always, even when journeying in time as a man, lived in a harmonious acceptance of the Father’s Will, for it is His Will as well!  Thus, through Christ and in Christ Crucified there is salvation.  This was also the depth of awareness and total surrender to Christ of our Seraphic Father St. Francis of Assisi. His faith in Christ Crucified urged him to seek more deeply what was imprinted on his heart at San Damiano, and even before in the restlessness of his search. The challenges of life, especially those presented so often by the brotherhood that had grown far beyond all expectations so quickly, kept St. Francis always aware of his need to surrender to the Will of God.

During November we celebrate the month of the Holy Souls in Purgatory. We celebrate, for they are saved, but not yet in the fullness of eternal life. They have finally passed the crucible of life.  What about those who live daily emotional, physical, spiritual deaths that challenge the faith to believe beyond oneself alone, and who are still on life’s journey?   The daily demands and challenges influence the decisions we all make and will ultimately be the determining factor on how we pass from time to eternity. These little crucial challenges or “deaths” to any disordered expression of our “ego” have a great deal to do with achieving the purpose for our creation. “What’s it all about?” We should never be totally pleased with ourselves. Grateful for all we have done cooperating with God and His direct or indirect will, we know that the challenges end when time does, not before. Joy and gratitude in the Lord at the good we have been able to accomplish is wonderful, but we must never grow complacent.

Francis blessed the hands that guided him. He saw in those moments God’s Love offering, not imposing, opportunities to live in “perfect joy”.  The sole purpose was to sanctify him, to render Francis similar to Jesus, the Father’s only begotten Son.  Trials are not a sign of God’s “irritation” with us. Faithfully accepting those crucial moments and also the persons who may be involved in them, our faithfulness and trust are increased. Like our Father St. Francis, we feel “the love you felt in your crucifixion” (These are the words of the prayer of St. Francis seeking a greater experience of Christ’s love in His ultimate act of redeeming grace on Calvary) The marks are not visible on our body, but when the Cross of Jesus is firmly imprinted on the heart and lived with the joy of a unifying love, the serenity and joy of the blessed are ours already here on earth.  Calvary is the hill of the saints. The purifying process leads us to the cross of dying to ourselves.  This leads to a transformation of mind, heart and soul. Thus, we enter a participated inner glory in time as we continue, transformed inwardly, to the fullness of glory in God for eternity. “World without end”, as we were and are accustomed to conclude many prayers, is a firm reminder that the world, “Theater of Redemption”, would not end but be forever transformed. And we are the protagonists of that world God calls to restored beauty and holiness in Him.

In Christ. we are transfigured by death to ourselves and thus ascend to eternal glory.  Per Crucem ad Lucem (Through the Cross to the Light!)

We often encounter difficult “mountains” to overcome. Face them with determination and trust in God first and in the gifts God has bestowed on you to be used gratefully and wisely. Confidently and cheerfully move on and do not be discouraged.  The more violently the enemy attacks the more we must abandon ourselves to the Lord. St. Paul reminds us: ‘God is faithful, and He will not let you be tempted (tested) beyond your strength, but with the temptation (challenge) will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it’. (1 Corinthians 10: 13)  The goodness of our God is beyond all our imaginings?  It seems more often than not that God is more concerned than we are for our salvation. Think of God’s love for you and his zeal for your well-being. Remain calm and never doubt that He will always protect you with Fatherly care against all your enemies.

Serenity in the midst of trouble is a wonderful witness of a faith that continues to trust in the love of an eternally-loving, ever-present and all-providing God.  Reason may help us to know that God exists, but it is our faith that leads us into a relationship with life-giving Love. It is this Love that fills the hearts of those who search for Him.  It is this Love that is mysterious in His nature but accessible through His works.  It is this Love that we seek to know and understand more during life’s journey so that when time meets eternity in death we can joyfully, trustingly, and lovingly ‘let go’ and let this Eternal Love embrace us with a fullness we could never have imagined.  This Love, Who is God, the Father-Creator, the Only-Begotten-Son-Redeemer, the Holy Spirit-Advocate-Sanctifier, can be studied about in books, discussed with others to deepen our human knowledge, but can be personally known, loved and lived only when we surrender ourselves to that Love and His Infinite Will.

We have to go beyond trying to merely learn about spiritual things. We are expected to listen to the Holy Spirit and live in the spirit of God.  We are not part of a “spiritual movement” of the year or age. Spirituality is not reading and knowing the writings of all the mystics, or knowing the prophecies of all the visionaries. They may be interesting, helpful or even necessary for us to know.  Nevertheless, we are directed to live holy lives in the present, to trust God in all things, and to resign ourselves to His most Holy Will.  Facts only accumulate with other facts whether theological, spiritual, or what have you.  The ‘book’ that makes all others more understandable is the ‘book’ of Christ Crucified. Reading that ‘book’ and learning its message well increases faith, rekindles hope, and leads us into a transforming intimacy with Eternal Love and the Source of Life.

Trust God unconditionally.  Believe God is Who God is.  Submit to God’s loving providence. Receive all that God permits to come your way.  The saints encourage our need to recognize, in any distress, whether spiritual or physical, God’s purifying presence.  We are thus led to a more transparent relationship with God and neighbor, because in God we have become transparent to ourselves. We have come to know ourselves better because we see ourselves in the knowledge we have of God.

We have come to live in a world, a society, of masks and mirrors. The mask seeks to hide our true identity.  The mirrors seek to deflect clear and true vision from any who seek to know us, or perhaps even “target” us. No matter. Trust in God and who you are created to be. The need will be supplied by the Eternal Provider. St. Francis of Assisi says: You are who you are before God and nothing more.  Knowing God more deeply through prayer, meditation, God’s Word, and celebrating and receiving the Eucharist often and worthily, strengthens faith, focuses vision, clarifies reason, confirms trust in God’s will – direct or indirect – calms fears, establishes inner peace and serenity, generates inner joy…LOVES!

The ‘process’ intensifies as we seek to respond to God’s will without reserve. God invites us to go beyond the limitations caused by our fears, hesitation, caution, or perhaps even our indifference or spiritual lethargy.  What God asks of us is based on what God knows about us, not the other way around.  Let us remember that God sees the ‘whole picture’. We see only the ‘now’.  True faith enkindles our hope in the One in Whom we responsibly commit ourselves to risk all the world holds dear – power, prestige, possessions. Let go of fearful caution. Ride the wave of God’s will. Experience the exciting fulfillment of recognizing and achieving your purpose in life.  Then we can say with St. Clare of Assisi: Thank you Lord for creating me.

The Spiritual Children of the Seraphic Father St. Francis of Assisi know from the example of St. Francis how necessary it is to enter the mystery of Christ Crucified before we can recognize the miracles of grace that surround us.  All too often people go in search of extraordinary expressions of God’s Love yet fail to see and acknowledge the magnificence of God’s presence at work every moment, especially in the daily responsibilities, where, with God’s grace, we go beyond our limitations and fears. Human reason and logic tell us to be careful, think things out, take time.  Do not be overcome by fear of failure. Do not accept the mediocrity of  tepidity. Believe, trust, and act without hesitation in the Name of God Who strengthens and assists all who surrender to His will.  

 Prayer acknowledges God as the source of all good. Believe God is Who He says He is. We cannot help but hope in the One Who loves us. We thus know that God makes all things work for the good of those who love Him. If God is for us, then who can be against us? (Romans 8: 31)  The thought of death and dying that are the focus of so many Catholics in this month, can be such a disheartening thought. When life is lived in God’s Will, then death is the point of encounter between time and eternity. It is the moment when a life leaps joyfully and gratefully into the arms of God. Praise be You my Lord God for Sister Bodily Death (Canticle of Brother Sun-St. Francis). Such good awaits me that every pain is a delight.  (St. Francis of Assisi)  These brief sentences speak volumes.  

 My God bless you; Our Lady and good St. Joseph, guide, guard, and protect you; and St. Francis of Assisi and our Holy Mother St. Clare watch over each one of us, their Spiritual Children, with loving care. May all the Holy Ones of our Seraphic Family living in eternity intercede for us. May their lives teach and inspire us, their sisters and brothers still journeying. They were where we are; we will be where they are! … saying, as our Mother Mary, “yes” at all times to the Loving and all-Merciful Will of God!

Peace and Blessings

Fr. Francis A. Sariego, OFM Cap

Regional Spiritual Assistant 

St Francis / EWTN TV Schedule for weekend of feast

Shared from our sister, Cindy Louden, OFS, Minister of Living Word Fraternity:
St Francis / EWTN TV

St. Francis’ feast day is October 4. Tune in to inspirational and informative specials on one of our Church’s most beloved saints!
Saturday, 10/2 at 8 p.m. ET        – “Clare and Francis”
Sunday, 10/3 at 1:30 p.m. ET     – Vespers and Transitus of St. Francis
Monday, 10/4 at 8 a.m. ET         – Holy Mass on the Feast of St. Francis
Monday, 10/4 at 3:30 p.m. ET    – St. Francis of Assisi: Sign of Contradiction
AND MORE!
See the full program schedule in your local time: http://bit.ly/EWTNtv
Sharing the news!  Peace & ALL Good!

Daily Thoughts – October 2021 – By Father Francis Sariego, OFM Cap

October 2021 

 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 following excerpts continue our daily meditations taken from  

The Legend of the Three Companions 

And other spiritual writers 

 

Chapter V 

HOW THE CRUCIFIX SPOKE TO HIM FOR THE FIRST TIME 

AND HOW HE HENCEFORTH CARRIED THE PASSION OF CHRIST IN HIS HEART UNTIL DEATH 

1

One day, when he was more passionately begging for the Lord’s mercy, the Lord showed him that he would be told in the near future what he must do. From that moment on, he was filled with such great joy, that, failing to restrain himself in the face of happiness, he carelessly mentioned some of his secrets to others. – God is with you, God is within you, dwell for a moment in God’s presence.  

2

He nevertheless spoke cautiously and in riddles, saying that he did not want to go to Apulia, but that he would accomplish great and noble deeds at home. His companions noticed the change in him, indeed he was already estranged from them in his thoughts, even though he sometimes joined their company.- Holiness is where we are.

3

And so they asked him as a joke: “Francis, do you want to get married?” He replied to them in a riddle, as we mentioned above. A few days had passed when, while he was walking by the church of San Damiano, he was told in the Spirit to go inside for a prayer. – If you have the virtue of obedience you have all the other virtues.

4

Once he entered, he began to pray intensely before an image of the Crucified, which spoke to him in a tender and kind voice: “Francis, don’t you see that my house is being destroyed? Go, then, and rebuild it for me.” Stunned and trembling, he said: “I will do so gladly, Lord.” For he understood that it was speaking about that church, which was near collapse because of its age. – From silly devotions and sour-faced saints, may the good Lord deliver us! 

5

He was filled with such joy and became so radiant with light over that message, that he knew in his soul that it was truly Christ crucified who spoke to him. Upon leaving the church, he found a priest sitting nearby and, putting his hands into the pouch, he offered him a handful of coins. “My Lord,” he said, “I beg you, buy some oil and keep the light before the Crucified burning continually. When this money runs out, I will again give you as much as you need.” – Union with God is perfect when our will has become free of all things and clings to God alone.

6

From that hour, therefore, his heart was wounded and it melted when remembering the Lord’s passion. While he lived, he always carried the wounds of the Lord Jesus in his heart. This was brilliantly shown afterwards in the renewal of those wounds that were miraculously impressed on and most clearly revealed in his body. – The best way of praying is the way in which we can pray the most fervently.

7

Once he was walking by himself near the church of Saint Mary of the Portiuncula, weeping and wailing loudly. A spiritual man, overhearing him, thought he was suffering some sickness or pain. Moved by piety for him, he asked why he was crying. “I am crying because of the Passion of my Lord,” he said, “for whom I should not be ashamed to go throughout the world crying in a loud voice.” – Perfection does not consist in having spiritual delights but in possessing virtue.

8

Frequently, even when he got up from prayer, his eyes seemed full of blood because he was crying with such bitterness. But, in memory of the Lord’s passion, not only did he afflict himself in tears, he also did so by abstaining from food and drink.- Devotion is devotedness: lifting our  thoughts to God, loving Him, living with Him.

9

Whenever he would eat with seculars, and they would give him some delicious food, he would eat only a little of it, offering some excuse so that it would not seem he was refusing it because of fasting. When he ate with his brothers, he often sprinkled ashes on the food he was eating, telling a brother, as a cover for his abstinence, that “Brother Ash” was chaste.- No heart can ever be empty when God is in it.

10

Once, when he sat down to eat, a brother remarked that the Blessed Virgin was so poor that when it came time to eat, she had nothing to give to her son. When he heard this, the man of God sighed deeply with great sorrow and, after he left the table, he ate bread off the bare ground. – God will always be in the heart when we pray.

11

Many times, in fact, having sat down at table, he had barely begun to eat when he would stop eating and drinking, absorbed in meditation on heavenly things. Then he did not want to be disturbed by any conversation. – To do good without God’s help is impossible.

12

Sighing loudly from the depths of his heart, he would tell the brothers that, whenever they heard him sighing this way, they should always praise God and pray for him faithfully…after that vision and the message of the image of the Crucified, he was always conformed to the passion of Christ until his death. – God is a generous spender, tossing the coins of His grace everywhere with Divine abandon.

 

Chapter VI 

HOW HE ESCAPED FROM THE PERSECUTION OF HIS FATHER AND RELATIVES, 

LIVING WITH THE PRIEST AT THE CHURCH OF SAN DAMIANO 

WHERE HE THREW THE MONEY ON THE WINDOW 

 

13

Overjoyed by the vision and hearing the words of the Crucified Christ, he got up, fortifying himself with the sign of the cross. And mounting his horse and taking cloth of different colors, he arrived at a city named Foligno and, after selling there the horse and everything he was carrying, he returned immediately to the church of San Damiano. – Grace ignored ultimately means grace withheld.

14

After he found a poor priest there, he kissed his hands with great faith and devotion; he offered him the money he was carrying, and explained his purpose in great detail. – Self-reform is impossible, at least difficult and disheartening, without self-knowledge.

15

The priest, astounded and surprised at his sudden conversion, refused to believe this, and, thinking he was being mocked, refused to keep his money. – To know yourself is a life-long study.

16

But stubbornly persisting, he endeavored to create confidence in his words, and he begged the priest more emphatically to allow him to stay with him. Finally the priest agreed to let him stay but, out of fear of his parents, did not accept the money. – Lord that I may know You. Grant that I may know myself.

17

And so the true scorner of money, throwing it on a windowsill, cared for it as much as he cared for dust. – A saint is a person like us who gets what he wants by working for it…a lifetime.

18

While he was staying there, his father, like a diligent spy, went around seeking to learn what might have happened to his son. And when he heard that he was so changed and was living in that place in such a way, he was touched inwardly with sorrow of heart and deeply disturbed by the sudden turn of events. – We must speak to those in need first with our hands before we speak to them with our lips.

19

Calling together his friends and neighbors, he ran to him. Because he was a new knight of Christ, as he heard the threats of his pursuers and knew beforehand of their coming, he left room for his father’s anger; and, going to a secret cave which he had prepared for this, he hid there for a whole month.- The shortest road to heaven is the way of the cross.

20

That cave was known to only one person in his father’s house. He would eat the food that, from time to time, was secretly brought to him there, praying all the while with flowing tears that the Lord would free him from destructive persecution, and that he could favorably fulfill his fervent wishes.- Holiness is a process of slow and steady growth: trying, failing, trying, failing, undaunted, trying again.

21

Strengthened with Christ’s armor of confidence, and burning with divine fervor, he blatantly exposed himself to the threats and blows of his persecutors, accusing himself of laziness and groundless fear. Those who knew him earlier, seeing him now, reproached him harshly – We cannot become good by wishing for it.

22

Shouting that he was insane and out of his mind, they threw mud from the streets and stones at him. For they saw him so changed from his earlier ways and so weakened by starving his body, that they blamed everything he did on starvation and madness. But…neither broken nor changed by any wrong, the knight of Christ gave thanks to God. – To reach heaven we must plant our feet firmly on ground, and take one step at a time, like a child learning to walk.

23

When rumor of this sort spread through the streets and quarters of the city, it finally reached his father. After he heard that the townspeople had done such things to him, he instantly arose to look for him, not to free him, but rather to destroy him. – The most crippling obstacle to holiness is our expecting too much too soon. – If we are determined to do good tomorrow, why not today?

24

Confining him to home and locking him up in a dark prison for several days, he strove, by words and blows, to turn his spirit to the vanities of this world. But, since he was neither moved by words, nor exhausted by chains or blows, he endured all these things patiently, more fit and eager to carry out his holy plan. – Too late have I loved you, Beauty ever ancient ever new.

25

When his father had to leave home on a pressing need, his mother remained at home alone with him. Since she did not approve of her husband’s action, she spoke to her son in gentle words. When she realized she could not dissuade him from his holy intention, moved by her deep feeling for him, she removed the chains, and let him go free. – Without penance we shall never advance beyond mediocrity.

26

More self-confident because of the injuries he had received, he made his way more freely and with an even greater heart. In the meantime his father returned, and not finding his son, he turned on his wife in abuse, heaping sin upon sin. Then the father hurried to the palace of the commune complaining to the city magistrates about his son and asking them to make him return the money he had taken from the house. – Too many are curious to know the lives of others, but careless to amend their own.

27

The magistrates…sent a messenger to summon Francis to appear before them. He told the messenger that he had been made free by God’s grace and, since he was a servant of almighty God alone, was no longer bound by the magistrates. The magistrates told his father: “Because he is in the service of God, he no longer falls within our power.” Francis] answered the messenger: “I will appear before the lord bishop, because he is the father and lord of souls.”Then he came before the bishop and was received by him with great joy. “Your father,” the bishop said to him, “is infuriated and extremely scandalized. If you wish to serve God, return to him the money you have, because God does not want you to spend money unjustly acquired on the work of the church. [Your father’s] anger will abate when he gets the money back. – Without repentance you cannot reform yourself.

28

My son, have confidence in the Lord and act courageously. Do not be afraid, for He will be your help and will abundantly provide you with whatever is necessary for the work of his church.” …he brought the money to him, he said: “My Lord, I will gladly give back not only the money acquired from his things, but even all my clothes.” – Without self-reform there can be no progress in virtue.

29

He took off all his clothes, and, putting the money on top of them, came out naked before the bishop, his father, and all the bystanders, and said: “Listen to me, all of you, and understand. Until now I have called Pietro di Bernardone my father. But, because I have proposed to serve God, I return to him the money on account of which he was so upset, and also all the clothing which is his, wanting to say from now on: ‘Our Father who are in heaven,’ and not ‘My father, Pietro di Bernardone.’- Without progress in virtue we can never come closer to God.

30

At that moment, the man of God was found to be wearing under his colored clothes a hair shirt next to his skin. Then his father, overcome with unbearable pain and anger, took the money and all the clothing. Those who were present at this spectacle…Moved by piety, they began to weep over him. – Where the human spirit fails, the Holy Spirit fills.

31

The bishop, focusing his attention on the man of God’s frame of mind and enthusiastically admiring his fervor and determination, gathered him into his arms, covering him with his mantle. For he clearly understood his deeds were prompted by divine counsel, and realized that what he had seen contained no small mystery. And so, from that moment, he became his helper, exhorting, encouraging, loving, and embracing him with the depths of his charity. – Live the Gospel without compromise. Live Jesus!

October 2021 Meditation from Father Francis Sariego, OFM Cap

St. Katherine Drexel Regional Fraternity

Regional Spiritual Assistant

St. Francis of Assisi Friary

1901 Prior Road

Wilmington, Delaware 19809

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

email: pppgusa@gmail.com

October 2021

Dear Sisters and Brothers in St. Francis,

The Lord give you his peace.  Our Seraphic Father St. Francis of Assisi is undoubtedly one of the most revered saints. Catholics, non-Catholics and non-Christians value the authenticity of his life and spirit, and the message he offers the world of peace and universal brother/sisterhood. The spirit of the Poverello of Assisi has left and still leaves its mark on the hearts of millions of people.

History, legend, poetic romanticism, aspirations of those searching for the meaning of their lives as well as life itself (i.e. what’s it all about?)and many other reasons point out Francis to be among the unique individuals of history to have made a deep impression on so many people. His sons and daughters of any Roman Catholic Franciscan “obedience” (religious groups of men and women living a structured form of life officially recognized by the Roman Catholic Church) continue his legacy in varied ways. They do not deviate from the essentials of his rule and testament, while they adapt to the times, without adopting the worldly spirit into which even our religious world seems to have fallen.

We cannot forget also the men and women of other non-Catholic Christian religious traditions.  They admire and seek to live the spirit of the values St. Francis sought to instill in the hearts of seekers of the truth of God’s Paternity over all creatures. These are those whose faith only God knows, and found mercy in God’s sight, as we are reminded in the Eucharist Prayer for all who were pleasing to you at their passing from this life.(Third Eucharistic Prayer), and all who seek You with a sincere heart (4th Eucharistic Prayer).  He is an incentive for them to live their beliefs for a better world as they sincerely continue their search for the fullness of Truth. They strive to better themselves by accepting those values that help raise a fallen nature to a higher and greater realm of integrity and wholeness of life. As the Universal Brother, St. Francis of Assisi appeals to all people of good will.

Truly Catholic in his spirit and desire, there were those who requested that he accept them under his guidance. To assure himself and the followers he had now acquired that their desire was of God, St. Francis sought the guidance and approval of Pope Innocent III. This pope was considered one of the most powerful men of the Church and of society at that time. He had a powerful influence on the religious, social, political, and even militaristic actions throughout the Church and known world.

The famous story, written by Saint Bonaventure (cf. St. Bonaventure’s Major Legend of St. Francis, III:10) speaks of the encounter of St. Francis and Pope Innocent III:  The servant of Almighty God, giving himself totally to prayer, obtained through his devout prayers both what he should say outwardly and what the pope should hear inwardly. For when he told a parable, as he had accepted it from God, about a rich king who gladly betrothed a poor but lovely woman who bore him children with the king’s likeness … he added his own interpretation. “The sons and heirs of the eternal King should not fear that they will die of hunger. They have been born of a poor mother by the power of the Holy Spirit in the image of Christ the King, and they will be begotten by the spirit of poverty in our poor little religion. For if the King of heaven promises his followers an eternal kingdom, he will certainly supply them with those things that he gives to the good and the bad alike.” While the Vicar of Christ listened attentively to this parable and its interpretation, he was quite amazed and recognized without a doubt that Christ had spoken in this man. But he also confirmed a vision he had recently received from heaven … He saw in a dream, as he recounted, the Lateran basilica almost ready to fall down. A little poor man, small and scorned, was propping it up with his own back bent so that it would not fall. “I’m sure,” he said “he is the one who will hold up Christ’s Church by what he does and what he teaches.”… Then he granted what was asked and promised even more. He approved the rule, gave them a mandate to preach. 

St. Francis did not preach new Church dogma, or secular ideologies in vogue at the time. He may have been influenced by groups seeking to live a more basic expression of Christianity in the Church, but he always remained faithful to the Church and the Magisterium. What was not permitted, he would not do. He also demanded this as part of the Rule of life that the brothers (and St Clare and her sisters) were expected to live without gloss.  The universal brother, the man with a disarmed heart, permitted no excuse or deviation from this road of total Gospel and Roman Catholic life.

His purpose was to live God’s will, as it had been impressed upon his heart when the Crucifix spoke to him at San Damiano: Francis, go rebuild my Church. As you see, it is falling into ruin. In the best way he knew how at the time, he fulfilled the “command” by rebuilding the three churches of San Damiano, St.Peter, and the Portiuncula. Not much later, he realized that the “church” about whom the voice spoke was the established Church, the Mystical Body of Christ. An earlier liturgical prayer for the feast of the Stigmata of St. Francis states: when the world was growing cold, in order that our hearts might burn anew with the fire of Your (God’s) love… Francis’ mission was to rekindle love in the Church and the hearts of allHis enthusiasm, energy, excitement about life, personal immersion into the reality of God Whom he experienced in everything and everyone made him weep so often saying: Love is not loved. Love is not loved.  Eccentric maybe, but totally engaged in the awesome majesty and magnificence of the Divine. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, as can be noted in his writings, were an ever-present, affective, and effective reality in his life and works.

Saint Francis was recognized as a Saint by his contemporaries even while he lived.  His orthodoxy, his dedication to poverty, his burning desire to spread the faith, and the miracles of grace that sprang up about him all represented to medieval Catholics what a saint should be.  Pope Innocent III likewise represented to medieval Catholics what a pope should be:  an unrelenting champion of orthodoxy, a vigilant guardian of the Church ever willing to call men to arms for the sake and honor of the Cross to protect the Faith. Pope Innocent III’s life was a personal life marked by piety and charity, with a “confusing” and often “forceful” means to attain a goal. (Let us remember that we must not judge one era by the values of another. Grace builds on nature. God assists us through experiences in time to understand His Will and grow in grace.)  Nevertheless, though different in office and personality, Pope Innocent III was always an admirer and protector of Saint Francis and his new order.  He saw in St. Francis and his Friars Minor an ardent attempt to live out the perfect way of life called for by Christ, and yearned for by so many. For many of them “life gets in the way”, but not for the son of Pietro Bernardone. Innocent knew that Francis “had it together”.

The lives and funds of the Church employed in all the Crusades against the Moors and Albigensians, cost nothing for the Poverello of Assisi. He revolutionized those who encountered him. His disarming demeanor invited people and even animals into a friendship of dialogue and understanding. Remember Francis and the Sultan, Francis and the Thieves, Francis and the Wolf, and more.  St. Francis was poor in the wealth of the world but enriched those who knew him. He became the champion of the Church. His sermon was the simple word of down-to-earth faith. He took no money, nor expected any recompense for his labors. He lived on the alms given him and his brothers for services rendered in spiritual or manual labors. All was accepted in the name and for the good of the poor.

St. Francis of Assisi was no pushover. He dealt with the friars, sisters, and all who sought his assistance in living the Gospel Life he sought to live in response to God’s call. He got terribly annoyed when the friars, while he was in the Holy Land, sought to “mitigate” the life by even changing what Francis knew was what he had been given by God to live. He demanded that the words of Scripture and the Rule not be “glossed” according to personal desires and whims. It is God who must be proposed and not our personal egos.

We are living in challenging times for the Church. The Church is being criticized, ridiculed. The Holy Father is being opposed by the very ones who should be working with him and assisting him. The faithful and even those outside the Church are taking sides and campaigning in one way or another. Nothing really changes though. The Mystical Body of Christ (the Church), like the Christ of history, will always be a Sign of Contradiction for those who seek to “mitigate” His Way. The Church and our Order as well have gone through these moments regularly throughout history. We are called to challenge others by our way of life and to be challenged by our personal call to be Franciscans. The uniqueness of our characters, personalities, quirks and what have you, find our unity in the bond of our “yes” to God’s invitation. There is always room for various expressions of ministry within the family. They must, however, be in accord with Church Laws regulating the work of any group acting in the name of the Catholic Church, and the Rule and Constitutions of the religious Orders approved by the Church. Let us pray that we always recognize our unity in pluriformity, and that our pluriformity always be faithful to what makes us Catholic Christians and committed Franciscans.

As Mary journeyed Her life with that of Jesus, may the mysteries of the Rosary we celebrate this month and hopefully pray everyday be our strength in walking with Jesus in the loving company of His and our Mother. May the Rosary (or the Franciscan Crown) be a daily reminder of our lives immersed in the reality of Jesus ever with us through all the moments of our lives, and of Mary’s intimate presence encouraging us. We are Her children, whom she accepted as her own at the foot of the Cross. It is in the mystery of the Incarnation of the God Who became one with us through Mary, that we can recognize and hopefully understand in the integrity of our faith the wholeness of conviction in our commitment to live “without gloss” the beautiful gift of the Franciscan vocation we have been offered.  As we reflect upon the Word Who gave the pledge of His faithfulness to the Father’s Will even to the Cross, let us remember the word we gave to be truly faithful.

The adage holds true and essentially so:  Your only as good as your word. How true are we to the Word Who asks faithfulness to our word to always be “yes” to the call we received as Christians, Catholics, and Franciscans? Our sincere answer will reveal much, maybe more than we would like.

May God bless us. May Mary, Queen and Mother of our Seraphic Family, keep us in the depths of Her Immaculate Heart. May Our Seraphic Father St. Francis of Assisi and our Holy Mother St. Clare of Assisi watch over each one of us, their Spiritual Children, with loving care, encouraging all of us to the faithful fulfillment of our “yes” to the Gospel Life as Franciscans.

 

Peace and Blessings

Fr. Francis A. Sariego, O.F.M. Cap.

Regional Spiritual Assistant

 

 

 

 

Thoughts for the Day September 2021 by Father Francis Sariego, OFM Cap

September 2021 

 Prayer in honor of the Sacred Stigmata of St. Francis of Assisi

Seraphic Father, St. Francis of Assisi, you were sealed with the image of the Passion of our Savior, so that the hearts of all people might be rekindled with the fire of Divine Love. As you bore the imprint of the wounds of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, we ask you to pray for us through those signs of God’s love for you that we too may be signs of the Lord’s living presence and love for all 

             –   Through the wound of your right hand- pray that my hands may always be raised in blessing to others. 

             –   Through the wound of your left hand – pray that I may always reach out for what leads me closer to God and my hands may always be outstretched to assist those in need. 

             –   Through the wound of your right foot – pray that I may fulfill the words of the prophet who blesses the feet of the bearer of peace and good tidings. 

             –   Through the wound of your left foot – pray that at the crossroads of life my steps may always seek out the direction  that leads to the fulfillment of the Father’s plan for me. 

             –   Through the wound of your side – pray that, as you, so also I may approach all people with a disarmed heart, that they may see in me, as so many saw in you, the image of the compassionate Savior, our Lord Jesus Christ. 

              –    Lord, You signed St. Francis of Assisi with the marks of Your Passion 

              – That we might bear our crosses with patience and love. 

              –    May we boast of nothing 

               – But the cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ   

Let us pray:    O Lord Jesus Christ, when the world was growing cold, in order that our hearts might be rekindled with the fire of Your Love, You renewed on the body of our Seraphic Father St. Francis of Assisi, the sacred marks of Your Passion.  Grant, through his intercession, that we may carry our crosses with patience and bear fruits worthy of Eternal Life.  We ask this of you Who live and reign forever and ever. 

–   Amen. 

 Daily Franciscan Excerpts for reflection taken from 

The Legend of the Three Companions 

 Chapter III 

HOW THE LORD VISITED FRANCIS’S HEART FOR THE FIRST TIME 

FILLING IT WITH MARVELOUS TENDERNESS THAT GAVE HIM STRENGTH 

TO BEGIN TO PROGRESS SPIRITUALLY IN LOOKING DOWN ON HIMSELF AND ALL VANITIES, 

IN PRAYER, ALMSGIVING, AND POVERTY 

1

A few days after he returned to Assisi, one evening his friends chose him to be in charge so that, according to his whim, he would pay their expenses. He made arrangements for a sumptuous banquet, as he had done so often in the past. When they left the house bloated, his friends walked ahead of him, singing throughout the city. – Keep imprinted on your soul that God is our Father. 

2

Holding in his hand the scepter of his office as their leader, he fell slightly behind them. He was not singing, but was deeply preoccupied. Suddenly he was visited by the Lord who filled his heart with so much tenderness that he was unable to speak or move.- Assist and take care of your soul and family as God wishes and don’t worry about anything.

3

He could only feel and hear this marvelous tenderness; it left him so estranged from any sensation that, as he himself said later, even if he had been completely cut to pieces, he would not have been able to move.- It is your providence, o Father, that steers the course. (cfr. Bk.Wisdom)

4

When his companions glanced back and saw him so removed from them, they went back surprised at seeing him already changed into another man. They asked him: “What were you thinking about that you did not follow us? Were you perhaps thinking about taking a wife?” He answered in an unequivocal voice: “You are right! I was thinking about taking a wife more noble, wealthier, and more beautiful than you have ever seen.” – If God did not abandon you in the past He will surely not abandon you now and in the future. Be at peace!

5

They laughed at him. For he said this not of his own accord, but because he was inspired by God. In fact, the bride was the true religion that he later embraced, a bride more noble, richer and more beautiful because of her poverty.- Earnestly endeavor to love Jesus. This alone will drive fear from our hearts.

6

From that very hour he began to consider himself of little value and to despise those things which he had previously held in love. Since he was not entirely detached from worldly vanities, this change was not yet perfect. He retired for a short time from the tumult and business of the world and was anxious to keep Jesus Christ in his inmost self, and, after selling all he had, he desired to buy the pearl, concealing it from the eyes of mockers. – Love of Jesus makes the soul fly to Him, not just walk.

7

Often, almost daily, he withdrew secretly to pray. He was inclined to do so by that same tenderness he had tasted earlier, which now visited him ever more frequently, driving him to prayer in the piazza and in other public places. Although he had been for some time a benefactor of the poor, he proposed in his heart, from then on, never to deny alms to any poor person begging from him for God’s sake, but rather to give more willingly and abundantly than usual.- Jesus is always pleased with us when our actions are directed to the glory of God.

8

When away from home, if he could, he always gave money to any poor person requesting alms. If he had no money, he gave him his hat or belt, making sure never to send him away empty-handed. If he lacked even these things, he would go to a deserted place, take off his shirt, and give it to the poor man, begging him to take it for the love of God. He would even purchase furnishings for adorning churches, and would secretly send them to poor priests. – Seek to love God and go forward without heeding the voice of your fears.

9

When his father was away and he was at home alone with his mother, although only two of them took their meals, he filled the table with loaves of bread as if he were preparing for an entire family. When his mother asked why he put so much food on the table, he answered that it would be given as alms for the poor, since he had resolved to give to anyone begging alms for God’s sake. – Know your fears, bring them to God, but do not worry about them.

10

Because his mother loved him more than the other children, she tolerated him in such matters, noticing the things he did and admiring in his heart many more. For he was so accustomed to setting his heart on joining his companions when they called him, and was so captivated by their company, that he would frequently leave the table even if he had eaten only a little. – Fly in spirit to the Tabernacle when you cannot go there with the body, and there express your desires.

11

In this way he would upset his parents by his thoughtless flight. Now, however, his whole heart was intent on seeing the poor, listening to them, and giving them alms.- Ascend Calvary without tiring and firmly believe it will lead you to the Lord.

12

He was so changed by divine grace that, although he was still in secular attire, he yearned to be in another city where, as someone unknown, he would take off his own clothes and, in exchange, put on the rags of a poor man. And he would try begging alms for the love of God. – Draw away step by step from earthly affections and aspire to the happiness prepared for us.

13

At this time he happened to go to Rome on pilgrimage. As he was entering the church of Saint Peter, he noticed the meager offerings made by some, and said to himself: “Since the Prince of the Apostles should be greatly honored, why do they make such meager offerings in the church where his body rests?” – Banish all uneasiness and worry, they are contrary to the working of the Holy Spirit.

14

With great enthusiasm, he took a handful of coins from his money pouch, and threw them through a grating of the altar, making such a loud noise that all the bystanders were astonished at his generosity. As he was leaving and passed the doors of the church, where there were many poor people begging alms, he secretly exchanged clothes with one of those poor people and put them on. – Take courage at the consoling thought of God’s love and mercy.

15

Standing on the steps of the church with the other poor, he begged for alms in French, because he would speak French spontaneously, although he did not do so correctly After taking off the beggar’s clothes and putting on his own, he returned to Assisi, and began to pray that the Lord would direct his way.- Be absolutely determined to love and serve the divine goodness Who is God.

16

He did not share his secret with anyone; nor did he seek counsel from anyone, except from God alone, and, periodically, from the bishop of Assisi. For at that time no one possessed the real poverty that he desired more than anything else in this world, in which he yearned to live and die.- Bear patiently the defects of those around you. 

 

Chapter IV 

HOW HE BEGAN TO OVERCOME HIMSELF BY HIS DEALING WITH LEPERS, 

AND TO CONSIDER SWEET WHAT WAS PREVIOUSLY BITTER 

 

17

One day, while he was praying enthusiastically to the Lord, he received this response: “Francis, everything you loved carnally and desired to have, you must despise and hate, if you wish to know my will. – Love is the queen of virtues which includes all others. 

18

Because once you begin doing this, what before seemed delightful and sweet will be unbearable and bitter; and what before made you shudder will offer you great sweetness and enormous delight.” He was overjoyed at this and was comforted by the Lord.- Let us love and practice charity as this is our divine Master’s precept.

19

One day he was riding his horse near Assisi, when he met a leper. And, even though he usually shuddered at lepers, he made himself dismount, and gave him a coin, kissing his hand as he did so. After he accepted a kiss of peace from him, Francis remounted and continued on his way.- We shall be distinguished from the unbelievers by our loving and charitable behavior.  

20

He then began to consider himself less and less, until, by God’s grace, he came to complete victory over himself. After a few days, he moved to a hospice of lepers, taking with him a large sum of money. Calling them all together, as he kissed the hand of each, he gave them alms. – How good the Lord is to everyone.

21

When he left there, what before had been bitter, that is, to see and touch lepers, was turned into sweetness. For, as he said, the sight of lepers was so bitter to him, that he refused not only to look at them, but even to approach their dwellings. If he happened to come near their houses or to see them, even though he was moved by piety to give them alms through an intermediary, he always turned away his face and held his nose. – Learn and more gently recognize and adore the divine will in all the events of life.

22

With the help of God’s grace, he became such a servant and friend of the lepers, that, as he testified in his Testament, he stayed among them and served them with humility.- Often repeat the words of the Divine Master: Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

23

Changed into good after his visit to the lepers, he would take a companion, whom he loved very much, to secluded places, telling him that he had found a great and precious treasure. – Acceptance of God’s will is our anchor and salvation.

24

The man was not a little overjoyed, and gladly went with him whenever he was summoned. Francis often led him to a cave near Assisi, and, while he went alone inside, he left his companion outside, eager for the treasure. – Lively faith, blind belief, and complete adherence to God’s will over you is the light that guides our way.

25

Inspired by a new and extraordinary spirit, he would pray to his Father in secret, wanting no one to know what was happening within except God alone, whom he consulted about acquiring heavenly treasure.- Try always to guard these two virtues: Love and Humility.

26

The enemy of the human race, observing him, strove to lure him from the good he had begun by striking fear and dread in him. – Open wide your heart to trust in God, Who opened His Heart for you.

27

There was in Assisi a deformed, hunchbacked woman, whom the devil, appearing to the man of God, recalled to him. He threatened to inflict him with her deformity unless he reneged on the plan he had conceived. – Impress on your mind, engrave deeply in your heart, and be convinced that none is great except God.

28

But the very brave knight of Christ, shunning the devil’s threats, prayed all the more fervently within the cave that God would direct his path. He endured great suffering and mental anxiety, unable to rest until he accomplished in action what he had conceived in mind. – Live calmly and do not worry excessively, for the Holy Spirit, to work effectively in us, needs tranquility and calm. 

29

Different thoughts followed one after the other, and their relentlessness disturbed him even more severely. For he was burning inwardly with a divine fire, unable to conceal outwardly the flame kindled in his soul. He repented that he had sinned so grievously.- Leave the door of your heart open so that the Lord may work within you.

30

While his past and present transgressions no longer delighted him, he was not yet fully confident of refraining from future ones. This is why, when he emerged from the cave, he seemed to his companion to have changed into a different man. – Throw yourself confidently into the arms of the heavenly Father with childlike trust and open wide your heart to the charism of the Holy Spirit.