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

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

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

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

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

About our region

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

Updates, News & Announcements

Follow our updates, news & announcements via…
Facebook Twitter RSS Feed

X

or enter your email address and click subscribe to by notified by email:

Monthly Meditation by Fr. Francis Sariego, OFM Cap – July 2019

July 2019


O loving one bear in mind your poor children for whom, without you,

their one and only consolation, there is little comfort…

they still .. tearfully cry out to you:

O father,

place before Jesus Christ, son of the Most High Father,

His sacred stigmata;

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

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

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

Amen.


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

1

Blessed Francis felt more pity for the man’s soul, rooted in mortal hatred, than for his body.  He said to him: Brother, forgive your lord for the love of God, so that you may set your soul free, and it may be that he will return to you what he has taken. Otherwise you will lose not only your property but also your soul. – When man becomes ’bereft of God’, he loses the meaning of his own life and in some way becomes ’bereft’ of himself.

2

So blessed Francis said (to the Dominican who asked his explanation of a passage from Ezekiel): … a servant of God should be burning with life and holiness so brightly, that by the light of example and the tongue of his conduct, he will rebuke all the wicked. – The family is the great workshop of love … where people are taught to love … with the incisive power of experience.

3

In order to preserve the virtue of holy humility,  a few years after his conversion, at a chapter, he resigned the office of prelate before all the brothers of his religion, saying: From now on, I am dead to you. But here you have Brother Peter of Catanio; let us all, you and I, obey him. – Do not separate your faith from your daily life and your daily life from your faith, as so many people do today.

4

He used to affirm that the Lesser Brothers had been sent from the Lord in these last times to show forth examples of light to those wrapped in the darkness of sins. – The life and the whole being of each Christian must be identified around one central axis: fidelity to Jesus Christ.

5

(When asked by a brother to designate one worthy to be general minister, Francis said): He must be a person of very dignified life, of great discernment and of praiseworthy reputation…without personal favorites…be a committed friend of prayer…must put the sacrament of the Mass first … and commend himself and his flock to divine protection. – The only path worthy of the human family is the path of peace, of mutual respect, understanding, and love, and solidarity with those in need.

6

(Francis continued the requisites of a general minister saying): After prayer, he must make himself available for all to pick at him, and should respond to all and provide for all with meekness. He is someone who … will take as much care of the lesser and simple brother as of the learned and greater ones. – We begin to pray, believing it is our own initiative that compels us to do so.  Instead , we learn that it is always God’s initiative within us.

7

(Continuing the image of the general minister, Francis said) He should bear in his behavior the image of holy simplicity and nourish this virtue … he must loathe money … to be imitated, he must never engage in the abuse of using any money pouch. – God alone is our true and lasting support.

8

(The general minister should be) someone who comforts the afflicted, and the final refuge of the distressed, so that the sickness of despair does not overcome the sick … let him let go of some of his rights that he may gain a soul for Christ … let him not close the heart of mercy to (those who are runaways) – Love and prayer are the only sure spiritual levers with which it is possible to lift up the world. And this applies to all areas of life.

9

I want all to honor (the general minister) as standing in the place of Christ, and to be provided for everything with all the kindness of Christ  – In a world thirsting for peace, it is indeed urgent that Christian communities proclaim the gospel unanimously.

10

Blessed Francis was not embarrassed to go through the city’s public places to find some meat for a sick brother.  However, he also advised the sick to be patient when things were lacking and not stir up a scandal if everything was not to their satisfaction. – It is indispensable that (Christian communities) witness to divine love, which unites them, and make themselves messengers of joy, hope, and peace.

11

He burned with great zeal for the common  profession and Rule, and endowed those who were zealous about it with a special blessing.  He called it their Book of Life, the hope of salvation, the marrow of the Gospel, the way of perfection, the key of Paradise, the pact of an eternal covenant. – The Holy Spirit makes man realize his own evil and at the same time directs him toward what is good.

12

It grieved the blessed Father when brothers sought learning while neglecting virtue, especially is they did not remain in that calling in which they were first called. –Thanks to the multiplicity of the Spirit’s gifts, every kind of human sin can be reached by God’s saving power.

13

He used to say that the lukewarm who do not apply themselves constantly to some work, would quickly be vomited out of the Lord’s mouth.  No idler could appear in his presence without feeling the sharp bite of criticism. – Whoever calls with faith on the name of Jesus can have the experience similar to the one mentioned by Luke: for power came forth from him and healed all.

14

So that the brother (who was in pain because he was hungry and could not sleep) would not be ashamed to eat alone, blessed Francis, a man of great charity and discernment, immediately had the table set and they all ate together with him. – Only a higher moral vision can motivate the choice for life.

15

After the meal, blessed Francis said to the other brothers: My brothers, each of you must consider his own constitution … Just as we must beware of overindulging in eating, which harms body and soul, so we must beware of excessive abstinence even more, because the Lord desires mercy and not sacrifice. – Provided that we approach the word of God and listen to it as it really is, it brings us into contact with God Himself, God speaking to us.

16

Let each one provide for his body what it needs as our poverty will allow.  This is what I wish and command you. – May Mary help us love nothing more than Christ, who reveals to the world the mystery of divine love and true human dignity.

17

When Francis began to have brothers, he was so happy about their conversion and that the Lord had given him good company, that he loved and revered them so much that he did not tell them to go for alms … rather, sparing them shame, he himself would go for alms every day …  – (The word of God) brings us into contact with Christ, the Word of God, the Truth, who is at the same time both the Way and the Life.

18

(Seeing Francis’ fatigue, the brothers said): We want to go for alms.  So (Francis) talked to them.  My dearest brothers and sons, don’t be ashamed to go for alms, because the Lord for our sake made Himself poor in this world … This is our inheritance, which the Lord Jesus Christ acquired and bequeathed to us and all who want to live in holy poverty according to His example. – It is decisive for each one of us to meet Christ personally.

19

So that the brothers would observe the words of the holy Gospel: Do not be concerned about tomorrow … for a long time many brothers … did not want to collect or receive more alms than were enough for them for one day. – It is Christ who understands the human heart, who can satisfy its hopes and longings and give answers to the concerns and the difficulties that humanity today faces.

20

From the very moment blessed Francis spoke (to the brother suffering from severe depression), he was immediately freed both in spirit and body from that great trial … through the grace of God and the merits of blessed Francis, he remained in great serenity and peace of soul and body. – The Holy Spirit is the author of our sanctification.

21

And he would say: When the Lord stayed in solitude where he prayed and fasted for forty days and forty nights, He did not have a cell or a house built there, but He sheltered Himself under the rocks of the mountain.  And so, after His example, he did not want to have a house or cell in this world, nor did he have one built for him. –The Holy Spirit transforms man deep down, divinizes him, makes him participant in divine nature, just as fire makes metal incandescent, just as spring water quenches thirst.

22

The holy father … did not want the brothers for any reason to go beyond the norm of poverty either in houses or churches, in gardens or in other things they used.  And he did not want them to possess the right of ownership to these places, but always to stay in them as pilgrims and strangers. – The need of Christians for reconciliation with one another, for mutual forgiveness, is great.

23

The Lord, he used to say, has called us to help His faith and the prelates and clerics of holy Mother Church.  This is why we are always bound to love, honor, and revere them as much as we can. For this reason let them (the brothers) be called Lesser Brothers ... – (Do) not be afraid of openly and courageously expressing our faith in Christ in our daily lives, especially in works of charity and solidarity with those who are in need.

24

Since I cannot speak much because of weakness and the pain of my illness, I am showing my will to my brothers briefly in these three words: as a sign of remembrance of my blessing and my testament, may they always love each other; may they always love and observe our Lady Holy Poverty; and may they always remain faithful and subject to the prelates and all the clerics of holy Mother Church. – It is important for media personalities (and all people) to be men and women of integrity and of sound character worthy of the respect which is paid them and of the trust which is given them. (we can apply this to all Christians)

25

Blessed Francis was very sad when he entered some church and saw that it was not clean.  Therefore, after preaching to the people, at the end of the sermon, he would always have all the priests who were present assembled in some remote place so he could not be overheard by the people. He would preach to them about the salvation of souls and,  in particular, that they should exercise care and concern in keeping churches clean, as well as altars and everything that pertained to the celebration of the divine mysteries.  The world should be enriched by … (our) goodness.

26

Brother Pacifico was taken up into ecstasy … and he saw many thrones in heaven, one of them higher than the others, glorious, resplendent adorned with every precious stone … All at once he heard a voice telling him: This was Lucifer’s throne and blessed Francis will sit on it in his place. – The first step of evangelization is to accept the grace of conversion into our own minds and hearts, to let ourselves be reconciled to God.

27

Brother Pacifico was told this in his heart: In this you can know that the vision you saw is true.  For as Lucifer was cast down because of his pride, so blessed Francis will merit to be exalted and sit on it because of his humility. – We must first experience God’s gracious mercy, the love of Christ which has reconciled us to himself and given us the work of handing on this reconciliation.

28

During his illness, blessed Francis composed some Praises of the Lord which he had his companions recite sometimes for the praise of God, the consolation of his spirit, and also for the edification of his neighbor. – Man’s relationship with God demands times of explicit prayer, in which the relationship becomes an intense dialogue, involving every dimension of the person.

29

When he came in and stood before the table of the brothers … he sat down on the floor beside the fire, facing the brothers … sighing he said … When I saw the table finely and elaborately prepared, I considered that this was not a table of poor religious … for more than other religious, we should follow the example of poverty and humility in all things, because we have been called to this and have professed this before God and people … – O Lord of life, when the moment of our definitive’passage’ comes, grant that we may face it with serenity, without regret for what we shall leave behind.

30

It was customary for blessed Francis, whenever anyone out of devotion requested him to pray to the Lord for his soul, to offer a prayer as soon as possible, so that he would not forget afterwards. – In meeting You (Lord), after having sought you for so long, we shall find once more every authentic good which we have known on earth, in the company of all who have gone before us marked with the sign of faith and hope.

31

What was bitter to his body he accepted and considered sweet on account of the sweetness and compassion that he drew daily from, the humility and footprints of the Son of God.  Because of the sufferings and bitter experiences of Christ, which He endured  for us, he grieved and afflicted himself daily in body and soul … – Jesus asks us to follow him and to imitate him along the path of love, a love which gives itself completely to the brethren out of love for God

 

Thoughts for the Day – July 2019 – by Fr. Francis Sariego, OFM Cap

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

July 2019

Dear Sisters and Brothers in St. Francis,

The Lord bless you with His peace!

Before the Vatican II revision of the Liturgical Year Calendar, the Franciscan Family commemorated the canonization of our Seraphic Father on July 16. It was a simple celebration that consisted of a commemorative prayer added to the prayers for the liturgical feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel that day. The following, taken from our sources, speak of the event.

A span of twenty years had passed since the glorious confessor and Levite of Christ had first embraced the counsels of evangelical perfection … Now, this same venerable father left the shipwreck of this world in the year of the Lord’s Incarnation 1226, on Sunday, the fourth day of the nones of October, and was buried, as has been said, in the city of Assisi … This blessed man had begun his course under the illustrious Lord Pope Innocent III, and he happily completed it under his successor, Honorius … They were happily succeeded by the Lord Pope Gregory (IX) … (Life of St. Francis by Julian of Speyer, chpt. 13)

Immediately, the holy man began to reflect the light radiating from the face of God and to glitter with many great miracles.  Thus the sublimity of his holiness which, while he was still in the flesh, had been familiar to the world as a guide for conduct through examples of perfect justice, was approved from heaven while he is now reigning with Christ as a confirmation of faith through the miracles performed by the divine power.  In different parts of the world, his glorious miracles and the abundant benefits obtained through him, inflame many to devotion to Christ and incited them to devotion to Christ and incited them to reverence for his saint.  The wonderful things which God was working through his servant Francis – acclaimed by word of mouth and testified to by facts – came to the ears of the Supreme Pontiff, Gregory IX.  That shepherd of the Church was fully convinced of Francis’ remarkable holiness, but also from his own experience during his life.  Having seen with his own eyes and touched with his own hands, he had no doubt that Francis was glorified in heaven by the Lord.  In order to act in conformity with Christ, whose vicar he was, after prayerful consideration he decided to glorify him on earth by proclaiming him worthy of all veneration. … He decreed with unanimous advice and assent … that he should be canonized.  He came personally to the city of Assisi in the 1228th year of the Incarnation of the Lord … and enrolled the blessed father in the catalog of the saints. (The Major Legend, chpt. 15, 6-7)

The Family of St. Francis, both brothers and sisters, had grown tremendously since Francis heard the words from the Crucifix of San Damiano. St. Francis of Assisi has been immortalized through the centuries not only because of the gifts the Lord bestowed upon him personally – among them the sacred Stigmata that rendered him a living image of the Suffering Christ – but also through the spirit he instilled in his followers, his spiritual children, and the joy and selflessness with which they surrendered themselves to the will of God, the Church, and the charism of the Poverello of Assisi. During the life of our Seraphic Father, Brother Berard and his companions, who were the first of a long line of Franciscans to do so, gave their lives for the faith in Morocco. St. Francis praised their faith, obedience, and courage, and said of them: Now I can truly say that I have five Friars Minor.  A true Franciscan doesn’t count the cost! We are supposed to be detached, so it should not be difficult To let go and let God.

St. Francis, saint of the Disarmed Heart and Universal Brother, continued to disarm his heart through the humility and openness of his sons and daughters. St. Francis and the Franciscan Family continue to have an incisive effect on the lives of both Christians and non-Christians.  The disarmed heart of St. Francis is the same disarmed heart that should be a recognizable sign of a true daughter or son of the Poverello. We destroy our opponents or those who think they are ‘enemies’ by making them our friends.  We are the peacemakers by profession! … with God, ourselves and one another!

The lives of our Franciscan Saints and Blesseds are a kaleidoscope of spiritual beauty.  Rather than overwhelm us with heights of unattainable holiness, their stories invite us to enter our vocation more deeply.  The diversity of characters, personalities, ministries, prayer forms, penitential practices, age groups, levels on the social ladder, roles fulfilled in Church and/or in society, intellectual capacity, and so much more, make it obvious that the Franciscan Family is open and welcoming to all who seek to live the Gospel life in the spirit of the Poverello of Assisi. Still, when the question is asked, What do I have to do to be a Franciscan? The question is so simple that it is difficult to answer.

We always put the word ‘do’ together with the word ‘be’.  It makes sense!  Once we know who we are, then we know or begin searching for the way to live out our lives fully. How many begin difficult penitential practices, long prayer forms, and the like, before they even get to understand how God is calling them to achieve the sanctity that we are all called to achieve gradually through living.  St. Paul reminds us: The kingdom of God is not a matter of eating or drinking, but of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit; whoever serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and approved by others(Romans 14: 17).  All the various practices are in themselves most profitable spiritually, as long as they are in accord with God’s will.  Remember, however, that before we run, we must learn how to walk, and before we walk, we crawl, and before that we are held in the arms of our parents.  Allow God to hold you in His arms. Entrusted by vocation to our fraternity we must learn to walk as a Franciscan, before we attempt to run as a ‘mystic’.

Enthusiasm is a wonderful gift.  The enthusiasm that initiates one into the spiritual life, especially when it is a ‘discovery’ in the adult years, can at times confuse a person who tries to apply all the actions of the saints and blesseds he/she has heard about.  It might even be the particular saint that attracts them, such as St. Francis or St. Clare, to the Franciscan Family.  But what happens next is that these well-intentioned ‘aspirants to sainthood’ think that doing as others did they will attain their goal.  To a certain extent it might be true, but each of us is a ‘saint’ in his/her own way.  Just remember Brother John the Simple.  St. Francis had to convince the family of John to let him become a brother. Once in the Brotherhood, John, who believed Francis a saint, thought that by imitating St. Francis in every action, he would surely become a saint.  It took some loving persuasion and encouragement for Francis to convince Br. John that he did not have to walk as he walked, cough when he coughed; you get the idea. That’s what John was doing. Simplicity of mind as well as life, but a holiness of life that accepted the correction and became the ‘unique’ saint he was. Like Br. John, we strive to be the ’unique’ saints we are called to be. We are ’children of the saints’.  We are brothers and sisters of the saints of our Franciscan Family.  We have a legacy that we leave to others after we have lived it ourselves.  Let us offer those who encounter us an image they can not only admire but follow with simplicity and dedication, if they choose to become ’one of the family’.

What do we have to do?  It is really quite simple!  The Rule and Constitutions are the main documents, together with Sacred Scripture, the Magisterium of the Church and the Sacred Tradition of the Roman Catholic Church and our Franciscan Family are the basic guidelines and safeguards for a basically good and holy Franciscan life.  Then we come to the practices that help us ’keep focused’ and ’on track’.  These can be many or just a few, depending on how we read and understand the ’basic guidelines’ of the Rule, Constitutions, Scripture, and so forth.

The following list offers some of the basic spiritual and religious practices most Catholics and religious have followed in the past. These are just a simple reminder of what most people seeking a deeper spiritual life have done before attempting the ’greater’ practices and experiences:

–   Daily Morning and Evening Prayers with the Church in the Liturgy of the Hours or other prescribed prayers proper to the Fraternity, as well as our own personal prayers, especially the Morning Offering and Consecration of our every action, are a way for us to begin and end the gift of each day with the Lord, trusting in His love, mercy, and providence.

–   Daily Mass and Communion assist us to enter that unique and intimate relationship with God Who offers us the opportunity to share in the Paschal Mystery each time we assist at or celebrate the Eucharist. One of our own saints said: A day without the Eucharist is like a day without the sun. Franciscans are a ’Eucharistic People’.  The Paschal Mystery was such an integral part of the spirituality and life of St. Francis of Assisi.

–   Daily Meditation on God’s Word opens the mind to receive a word that enlightens, strengthens, warns, encourages, and so forth.  It is the act by which we make our very being receptive to the Lord Who speaks to us.

–   Daily quiet time with the Lord, even if for only a half hour, lets the world in which we are necessarily involved, be seen from a different perspective when we ’re-enter’ after spending quality time with God. Be still and know that I am God (Psalm 46)

–   Daily Spiritual Reading of lives of saints and other holy people faithful to the Church and/or readings concerning our Franciscan charism should be among our daily reading list.  A good biography of holy people shows us how a life is to be lived in God. Though each person about whom we read is different, the commitment, deep faith, trust, and unique way they encountered God and grew in His grace, serve as an encouragement for our spiritual journey.

–   Weekly, if not more often, Eucharistic Adoration does not have to be the formal adoration with the monstrance; sometimes that cannot be. However, time spent before the Blessed Sacrament in total surrender to the Divine Presence changes our view on many things we would otherwise allow to overwhelm us.

–   Sacramental Reconciliation once every two weeks was the norm for a while. We are Penitents of Assisi.  We should be the first among all the formal religious groups to recognize, promote and utilize this Sacrament as a means of keeping us always in the divine life of grace. Unfortunately, even we Franciscans think that this Sacrament is only needed for serious or mortal sins.  While that is true, the Sacrament is also a gift that keeps us spiritually healthy by giving us the graces to rid us not only of sin but assist us in weeding out the occasions we allow to entice us. Until we “own” what is “hurting” us, we will never really seek and receive the necessary healing.

–   The Monthly Fraternity Meeting that brings the ’family’ together to pray, learn, share and plan is an essential part of our life that everyone should be part of, unless legitimately excused.

–   The Yearly Retreat helps us to focus totally, if only for a few days, on the preeminence of God and our vocation to this life.

–   The Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy can be fulfilled in a variety of ways that are already being done by a number of our brothers and sisters.  These ’externals’ form an integral part of our ministry as Franciscans.

These may seem like so much to expect or ask.  In reality everything mentioned above is all easily doable, when priorities are set.  No responsibilities will suffer in doing any of the above, and there are marvelous effects that flow from these.  As we center on God, we begin to understand more of our Franciscan vocation.  Spiritual as well as more material activities are accomplished with greater ease.  They take precedence over the ’time wasters’ that we so often allow to take up our attention for hours, days, and sometimes a ’wasted lifetime’.  We must also relax, recreate, have fun, laugh, enjoy life. The spiritual activities mentioned above, when done with a sense of commitment to strengthen our relationship with God and our sisters and brothers in the Franciscan Fraternity, only enhance the joy. They do not detract from it.

My dear sisters and brothers, we are all children of the Seraphic Father.  Just as it is not enough to cry Lord, Lord, to enter the kingdom of God, so it is not enough to say that one is a Franciscan solely because he/she recited the words of profession. Profession demands conviction, commitment, and living as a Franciscan.  What we say with our lips becomes truth when we live it with our life.  A Franciscan lives the spirit of the Seraphic Father, the Poverello of Assisi. Before we expect the marvelous and extraordinary in our lives to happen, let us strive to live what is expected of us.  Live the ordinary, the expected, in an extraordinary and maybe even ’unexpected’ way. St. Francis tells the first followers and us as well Let us begin (to be who we are called to be) because up to now we have done so little. Make use of the various opportunities and gatherings planned and offered for you to grow in your knowledge of our charism and to become more closely one in fraternity through our common prayer and sharing. As children of St. Francis of Assisi, we form a magnificent family that has been a blessing to the Church for over eight centuries.  Let us continue to be a blessing to all, as we bless one another with our love and lives.

Our Seraphic Father offers us the example how to allow the above to be an effective part of our lives. We must be humble! Not be so filled with ourselves that we become a “legend unto ourselves”… and an annoyance to others. True humility lets go of self and lets God take over. True humility learns how to appreciate the gifts of others. True fraternal humility rejoices with the sister or brother and does not seek to stifle the working of the Holy Spirit present in everyone.

During these warm summer months, remember God’s warm love for all of us. Let the love of His Son warm our hearts that we may be His image to one another and to the world we encounter each day. May God bless you; Our Lady guide, guard, and protect you; and our Seraphic Father St. Francis of Assisi look over each one of us, his spiritual children, with loving care.

Peace and Blessings

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

Regional Spiritual Assistant

 

What’s In A Name? From the Heart of the Minister – July, 2019

The practice of taking a religious name at Profession stopped in the 70’s.  We stopped at the same time that the religious Orders stopped.  We don’t become a Secular Franciscan in order to become a new person with a new identity.

Just so I would have something to back up what I am writing here, I put the question out on the Regional Ministers’ list serve so that all Regional Ministers across the country would see it and respond. Some of the Ministers asked what century I am living in and others said they never heard of taking a religious name.  And here is the wonderful answer I received:

If we take a look at the past, a name change at Baptism was originally meant to give a person a Christian identity and name as opposed to a pagan name.

As Secular Franciscans, prior to Vatican II, we followed the custom of religious communities that gave a new name at the time of reception into the community. It signified the idea of dying to the old self and rising to life in Christ. This is no longer done in religious life. Taking into consideration that we are lay people; we are even less inclined to take a religious name.

Why is this no longer done?

At the time of the second Vatican Council, all religious were encouraged to go back to their roots: to look at Baptism as the foundational sacrament. We are given Christian names at Baptism. Therefore, we are being asked to be known in the community by our baptismal name.

 Our Secular Franciscan profession intensifies our baptismal commitmentIn Profession we make a public statement that we are going to live out our baptismal commitment for the good of the church. 

Remember when we switched from SFO to OFS?  Oh what moaning and groaning there was over that!  It was done so that all Secular Franciscans worldwide are identified in the same way.  Taking a name falls into the same category.  It is not an accepted practice worldwide.  Receiving a cord and taking a religious name at Profession were stopped more than 50 years ago.

By the same token, all formation comes from For Up To Now – or the FUN manual as we know it – and the Franciscan Journey.  To deny the Inquirers and Candidates of what the rest of the world is learning is not acceptable.  People end up being professed without knowing what every professed Secular Franciscan needs to know.  Later, these same folks are voted onto Council and are so lost and find the position so hard because their formation was not done according to the Rule, the Constitutions, the Statutes and Guidelines.

There is work to be done. We have willingly joined an Order and to be able to keep order, we all must comply with our governing documents.  These documents can keep Ongoing Formation well stocked for a couple years at least!

As we learn about where we are in our Secular Franciscan journey, we can step into the future of our Order with solid knowledge and practices.

 

Monthly Formation from the Regional Formation Director – June 2019

“You will be my witnesses”

“You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” When he had said this, as they were watching, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. (Acts 1:8-9)

**********

The time between Ascension Thursday and Pentecost is quiet but thrilling. Quiet, because it is an in-between time of wonder and awe. Thrilling, because it anticipates Pentecost Sunday when we remember the descent of the Holy Spirit and the birth of the Church. During this interlude, we recall how the Risen Lord, after a period of time in which he appeared to the apostles and others, departed from them. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church explains: “Jesus’ final apparition ends with the irreversible entry of his humanity into divine glory, symbolized by the cloud and by heaven, where he is seated from that time forward at God’s right hand.”1 Jesus commissions his followers: “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to the whole of creation.”2 And he assures them “you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses.”3

These events and mysteries have special meaning for Secular Franciscans. They present to us the origin of the Church’s mission of evangelization. In his apostolic exhortation, Evangelii Nuntiandi (Evangelization in the Modern World), Pope St. Paul VI teaches that “the task of evangelizing constitutes the essential mission of the Church… Evangelizing is in fact the grace and vocation proper to the Church, her deepest identity. She exists in order to evangelize.”4

That task of evangelization is one that Secular Franciscans share, in a most definite way, by virtue of our profession. Our Rule says we “should go forth as witnesses and instruments of her mission among all people, proclaiming Christ by their life and words.”5 Furthermore, we “are called to build a more fraternal and evangelical world so that the kingdom of God may be brought about more effectively.”6 Franciscan scholar Andrea Boni, OFM, wrote that Franciscans “have been entrusted by God with the task of rebuilding his house. The Church is rebuilt with the same tools with which it was constructed: evangelization and witness of life.”7

For Secular Franciscans, both in fraternity and in our individual lives, the role of witness is fundamental. Again, to cite Pope St. Paul VI, “Modern man listens more willingly to witnesses than to teachers, and if he does listen to teachers, it is because they are witnesses.”8 What does that witness look like? He offers a very Franciscan description: “The world calls for and expects from us simplicity of life, the spirit of prayer, charity towards all, especially towards the lowly and the poor, obedience, humility.”9 And he clearly intends this to be the action of individuals, adding poignantly, “In the long run, is there any other way of handing on the Gospel than by transmitting to another person one’s personal experience of faith?”10 Secular Franciscans know how to do this. We know how to go from “gospel to life and life to the gospel.”11

In our culture, evangelization is often associated with a particular form of proselytizing. However, to be truly evangelical is simply to embrace the gospel and proclaim it fearlessly. We evangelize by the example of our fraternities when we live as communities of love. We evangelize as individuals by following Jesus after the example of St. Francis. Our witness will look different depending on how we are graced and on our various situations in the world. But the Church’s mission of evangelization—to spread the gospel—is central to our vocation. The General Constitutions affirm this: “Secular Franciscans proclaim Christ by their life and words. Their preferred apostolate is personal witness in the environment in which they live.”12

 **************************************************

 From the OFS Rule and Constitutions

  • They have been made living members of the Church by being buried and raised with Christ in baptism; they have been united more intimately with the Church by profession. Therefore, they   should go forth as witnesses and instruments of her mission among all people, proclaiming Christ by their life and words. [Rule, 6]
  • Secular Franciscans, together with all people of good will, are called to build a more fraternal and evangelical world so that the kingdom of God may be brought about more effectively. [Rule, 14]
  • Called to work together in building up the Church as the sacrament of salvation for all and, through their baptism and profession made “witnesses and instruments of her mission,” Secular      Franciscans proclaim Christ by their life and words. Their preferred apostolate is personal          witness in the environment in which they live and service for building up the Kingdom of God       within the situation of this world. [Constitutions, 17,1]

For reflection and discussion

  • Pope St. Paul VI says that the “Church exists to evangelize.” How do you imagine an authentically Catholic evangelization? What form or modality might it take?
  • If the mission of the Church is to evangelize—to proclaim the gospel to all the world—what does it mean in your daily life to be a “witness and an instrument” of that mission?
  • Our Constitutions make the striking statement that for a Secular Franciscan the “preferred apostolate is personal witness in the environment in which they live and service for building up         the Kingdom of God within the situations of this world.” What are some of the ways you can develop such an apostolate in your own life as a Secular Franciscan?

Further study

Copyright © 2019 by Justin Carisio, OFS

 

From the Heart of our Minister – June 2019

We often pray – “Make Me An Instrument Of Your Peace”.  We want to be the conduit to give Christ’s peace to another.  Yet, we don’t hold onto our own peace. Giving peace away is fine – as long as it isn’t yours!

 

I had one of those “Ah ha” moments last Sunday while watching the Mass on EWTN.  I must admit that I don’t know who the priest was saying the Mass.  Not a face I recognized.  But his message was powerful and part of it went like this…if you had a gold bar and someone came up to you and insulted you or made you feel badly (=angry, hurt, embarrassed, humiliated etc, etc) you wouldn’t then hand them the gold bar and say –here–, take it. Why in the world would we hand over our gold especially to someone who just hurt us.  Why then, do we so readily hand over our peace?

 

We all complain about the amount of stress we have while replaying a scenario in our minds of some incident where we were the victim. Guess what?!  You are keeping yourself a victim by having the conversations again in your head, And again each time you tell someone else what happened and how you felt. How hard would it be to allow yourself to be an instrument of peace….to you?

 

You can’t give away what you don’t have. You can’t drink from an empty cup. Believe me, I don’t win any awards at this stuff.  I declare to anyone listening that I can’t handle the situation and have handed it to God, telling Him (oh brother!) that He has to handle it for me.  And then I systematically tell Him how badly He is handling it and what needs to happen.  How many times do we give things to God to handle and snatch it back again before the words die out on our lips?  Proverbs 3:5 -“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, on your own intelligence do not rely.”

 

The hardest prayer to pray is to ask God for the best solution…..and then leave it there. Not what I want, not what I think should happen but what the best solution is. Let me be an instrument of Your peace. And let it begin with me.  Maybe that line simply means that of all the channels of peace we try to set up, at least one of them needs to make a U-turn and come back to our own hearts. Isaiah 41:10 -“Do not fear: I am with you; do not be anxious: I am your God. I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.”

 

As Franciscans, we are called to minister to God’s people.  Don’t forget that we are also one of them!

Thought for the Day by Father Francis Sariego, OFM Cap. – June 2019

June 2019

O loving one

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

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

O father,

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

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

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

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

Amen.

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


1

(Francis=) opinion was that rarely should something be commanded under obedience, for the weapon of last resort should not be the first used. – Jesus=way of acting and his words, his deeds, and precepts constitute the moral rule of Christian life.

2

Saint Francis also said: A time will come when the religion loved by God will have such a bad reputation because of bad example that it will be embarrassing to go out in public. – Love and follow Christ!

3

Know that you are in truth my servant when you think, speak, and do all things that are holy. – If the path becomes difficult at times and you are overcome by fatigue, rest in the shade of prayer.

4

While he was staying in that palace (of the bishop), blessed Francis, realizing that he was getting sicker by the day, had himself carried on a litter to the church of St. Mary of the Portiuncula. – Have great love for Jesus Christ, try to know him well, remain united to him, have great faith and great trust in him.

5

Raising himself up slightly, he blessed the city of Assisi:  May (Assisi) always be mindful of the abundant mercies which You have shown it, that it always be an abode for those who acknowledge You, and glorify You name blessed and glorious throughout the ages.  Amen. – Be generous in giving your life to the Lord.

6

From the time of his conversion till the day of his death, blessed Francis, whether healthy or sick, was always concerned to know and follow the will of the Lord. – You have nothing to fear, because God is the Lord of history and of the universe.

7

Although racked with sickness, blessed Francis praised God with great fervor of spirit and joy of body and soul, and told (one of the brothers): If I am to die soon, call Brother Angelo and Brother Leo that they may sing to me about Sister Death. – The more ready you are to give yourselves to God and to others, the more you will discover the authentic meaning of life.

8

(Lady Jacopa) That spiritual woman was a holy widow, devoted to God … Through the merits of blessed Francis she had obtained such grace from God that she seemed like another Magdalene, always full of tears and devotion for love of God. – God expects much of you!

9

From the beginning of his conversion blessed Francis, with God=s help, established himself and his house … upon a firm rock , the greatest humility and poverty of the Son of God, calling it the religion of >Lesser Brothers=. – Life is a gift from the Creator, to be spent in the service of one=s brothers and sisters.

10

The bishop of (Terni) … attended that sermon (of blessed Francis in Terni) … he said: … in this final hour, God has beautified his Church with this little poor man, lowly and unlettered … pointing all the while to blessed Francis. – (Life) is to be accepted, respected, and proposed with every means available, and defended from every threat.

11

To preserve greater humility, a few years after his conversion he resigned the office of prelate before all the brothers during a chapter held at Saint Mary of the Portiuncula.  From now on I am dead to you.  But here is Brother Peter di Catani: let us all, you and I obey him. – Recognizing Christ in our brethren, we are preparing to be recognized by him at his final return.

12

Considering the outstanding perfection of Brother Bernard, blessed Francis prophesied about him in the presence of some of the brothers: I tell you some of the greatest and most cunning devils have been sent to test Brother Bernard … The merciful Lord will deliver him … He will place his spirit and body in such peace, quiet, and consolation … and in this consolation of both body and soul, he will pass from this world to the Lord. – The Christian community prepares for the Lord’s second coming by focusing on those persons whom Jesus Himself favored, those who are often excluded and ignored by society.

13

During the week in which blessed Francis died, Lady Clare was seriously ill…She sent word of this to blessed Francis…To console her, he wrote his blessing in a letter and also absolved her from any failings, if she had any…He spoke to the brother she had sent. Go, and take this letter to Lady Clare…Let her be assured that before her death, both she and her sisters will see me and will receive the greatest consolation from me. – Let us lift our gaze from pettiness and sin, and let us contemplate in heaven the throne of the Lamb, where the eternal liturgy of praise is chanted by men and women of every people and race.

14

Saturday evening before nightfall, after vespers, when blessed Francis passed to the Lord, many birds called larks flew low above the roof of the house where blessed Francis lay, wheeling in a circle and singing. – Be an encouragement always to walk in accordance with the Spirit of the risen Jesus, a support in adhering to God=s will … be generous witnesses of Christ=s love.

15

Concerning larks, blessed Francis used to say: Our Sister Lark, has a capuche like a religious, and is a humble bird, who gladly goes along the road looking for some grain.  Even if she finds it in animal=s manure, she pecks it out and eats it.  While flying, she praises the Lord… – >Reparation= … is … returning to the Lord, touched by his love, and offering a more intense fidelity in the future, a life aflame with charity.

16

Blessed Francis often said these words to the brothers: I have never been a thief, in regard to alms, which are the inheritance of the poor.  I always took less than I needed, so that other poor people would not be cheated of their share.  To act otherwise would be theft. – To follow Jesus involves living as he lived, accepting his message, adopting his way of thinking, embracing his destiny, and sharing his project, which is the plan of the Father

17

The voice of Christ was heard in the air, saying: Francis, nothing of yours is in the Rule. Whatever is there is all mine.  And I want the Rule observed in this way: to the letter, to the letter, to the letter, and without gloss, without gloss, without gloss … Those who refuse to observe it should leave the Order …– Without the spiritual nourishment that the body and blood of Christ gives us, human love is always tainted by selfishness.

18

(At the Chapter of Mats, in the presence of the Lord Cardinal who later became Pope Gregory, Francis said): My brothers! My brothers!  God has called me by the way of simplicity and showed me the way of simplicity. I do not want you to mention any other Rule … And the Lord told me … He wanted me to be a new fool in the world … – Christians must feel compelled to take the initiative and to reach out to their brothers and sisters where they live and work.

19

Know then, brothers, that the profit or good of souls is what pleases God the most, and this is more easily obtained through peace with the clergy than fighting with them … Be subject to prelates so that, as much as possible on your part no jealousy arises.  If you are children of peace, you will win over both the clergy and people for the Lord … – It is every believer=s duty to take part in building up society, putting himself at the service of his brothers and sisters through the search for the common good.

20

For my part, I want only this privilege from the Lord: not to have any privilege from any human being, except to show reverence to all, and, by the obedience to the holy Rule, to convert everyone more by example than by word. – If we wish to welcome the Lord, we are called to conversion.

21

One night blessed Francis was so afflicted with the pains of his illness … he had all the brothers staying in that place called to him … he regarded them as representatives of all the brothers … he blessed them, placing his right hand on the head of each one, and he blessed all who were in the religion and all who were to come until the end of the world. – Constant fidelity to legitimate authority and institutions … serve not power but the supreme ideal of justice.

22

He did not want the brothers to live in any place unless it had a definite owner who held the property rights.  He always wanted to have the law of pilgrims for his sons. – The message of conversion and reconciliation as an indispensable demand of Christian love is more urgent than ever in present-day society, in which the very foundations of an ethical vision of human life often seem lost.

23

He hated pretense in houses … abhorred having many or fine furnishings … disliked anything … that recalled the ways of the world.  He wanted everything to sing of exile and pilgrimage. – Prepare the way for Christ by the testimony of his word and his life.

24

He taught that in books the testimony of the Lord, not value, should be sought, edification rather than elegance.  He wanted few books kept, and these should be available to the brothers who needed them. – Imitate (Christ) with docile and trusting generosity.

25

Finally, beds and coverings abounded in such plentiful poverty that if a brother had a ragged sheet over some straw he considered it a bridal cloth. – The glory of God is man fully alive (St.Irenaeus).  Here is the truth about the glory of God which the gospel offers us!

26

He detested money above all … and encouraged his followers to flee from it always as from the devil himself. He gave his followers this observation: money and manure are equally worthy of love. – The mysterious route of faith and love … is a model of the journey that every Christian is called to accomplish to witness Christ in the world.

27

Clothed with power this man was warmed more by divine fire on the inside than by what covered his body on the outside. – In order to love as Jesus loves, we must offer others the gift of ourselves.

28

(Blessed Francis) said: A time will come when strictness will be relaxed and tepidity will hold such sway, that sons of a poor father will not be the least ashamed to wear even velvet cloth, just changing the color. – It is in the giving of ourselves through charity, service, and compassion that we can experience true joy.

29

(St. Francis said to a man who was cursing his lord for taking what was his) Brother, forgive your lord for the love of God, so you may set your soul free, and it may be that he will return to you what he has taken.  Otherwise you will lose not only your property, but also your soul.  Blessed Francis gave him the mantle on his back, and said, Here, I will give you this cloak, and beg you to forgive your lord for love of God.  The man=s mood sweetened and moved by his kindness, he took the gift and forgave the wrongs. –  Suffering is transformed and elevated when, in those moments, we become aware of God=s closeness and solidarity.

30

(Speaking with a learned Dominican about warning the wicked of their wickedness, blessed Francis said): … a servant of God should be burning with life and holiness so brightly, that by the light of example and the tongue of his conduct, he will rebuke all the wicked … the brightness of his life and the fragrance of his reputation will proclaim their wickedness to all of them. – Each one is tempted by unbelief.  We have to open our eyes and our heart to the light of the Holy Spirit.

 

 

 

 

 

Monthly Meditation by Father Francis Sariego, OFM Cap – June 2019

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

 

June 2019

Dear Sisters and Brothers in St. Francis,

The Risen Christ bless you with His peace!

Our Seraphic Father St. Francis of Assisi had a deep love and reverence for the Most Blessed Sacrament, and concern for the proper respectful reservation and handling of the Sacrament of the Body and Blood of the Lord. Writing his Testament, he made it a point to speak of the reverence and adoring posture he had when he passed any church: And the Lord gave me such  faith in churches that I would pray with simplicity in this way and say: >We adore You, Lord Jesus Christ, in all Your churches throughout the whole world and we bless You because by Your holy cross You have redeemed the world= (Testament).  He encouraged the clergy  – of whose group he was as an ordained deacon – to consider the Body and Blood of Christ that they handle and offer.  His concern was that the Eucharist be celebrated and received worthily, and be kept with dignity in appropriate places: Let us all, clergymen, consider the great sin and the ignorance some have toward the most holy Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ and His most holy names and written words that consecrate His Body.  We know it cannot be His Body without first being consecrated by word.  For we have seen nothing bodily of the Most High in this world except His Body and Blood, His names and words through which we have been made and redeemed from death to life.(Exhortation to the Clergy).  Admonishing the friars responsible for the various fraternities of the brethren Francis wrote: I beg you, when it is fitting and you judge it expedient, you humbly beg the clergy to revere above all else the most holy Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ and His holy names and the written words that sanctify His Body. They should hold as precious the chalices, corporals, appointments of the altar, and everything that pertains to the sacrifice…Let it be carried about with great reverence and administered to others with discernment (Letter to the Custodians).  We must, of course, confess all our sins to a priest and receive the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ from him…But let him eat and drink worthily because anyone who receives unworthily, not distinguishing, that is, not discerning, the Body of the Lord, eats and drinks judgment on himself (Letter to all the Faithful, 2nd Version).

St. Francis was a truly Eucharistic person whose example encouraged others to revere above all else the most holy Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ (First Letter to the Custodians) because Jesus wishes all of us to be saved through Him and receive Him with our hearts pure and our body chaste(Later Admonitions), thus, let us, as we see bread and wine with our bodily eyes, see and firmly believe that they are His most holy Body and Blood living and true (Undated Writings).  The words and example of our Seraphic Father indicate beyond a doubt that our Franciscan Family is a Eucharistic Family. Our strength and nourishment comes from God=s Word and the Sacrament that offers us the Bread of Life, our viaticum, to sustain us on our journey until time becomes eternity.   This Bread of Life sustains us as we share life with one another in Franciscan Brotherhood, and with all the people of God whom we serve in the Universal Brotherhood of humanity. For a Franciscan the Eucharist should be the center of life and devotion!

Two expressions that indicate the central role of the Eucharist for our Catholic Faith are: The Eucharist makes the Church; the Church makes the Eucharist (Henri de Lubac, S.J.), and  The Church of the Eucharist (Encyclical, Bl. John Paul, II).  There is an intimate relationship between the Eucharist and the Church.  Without the Eucharist there is no Church.  Without the Church there is no Eucharist.  We celebrate the Eucharist from the rising of the sun unto its setting (Psalm 113,3). The words of the Psalmist are re-echoed in the words of the Prophet Malachi, My name will be great among the nations from the rising to the setting of the sun; in every place incense and pure offerings will be brought to my name (Malachi 1:11).  The Eucharist, celebrated throughout the world, is the fulfillment of this prophecy. Entering the mystery of the Eucharist, we acknowledge the limitless love of God for all His children, and our redemption in the blood of Christ.

The supreme act of worship, established by God with Moses and the People of Israel in the slaughter of animals sacrificed to God and the sprinkling of their blood, was a continual reminder for Israel of the presence of the Eternal One in their midst and his care for them, for His mercy endures forever(Psalm 136). The sacrifices Israel offered continually re-affirmed the Covenant between God and His People.  They acknowledged the supremacy of the God of Abraham over them, and they believed that the >People of the Covenant= would always have the protection of God. They did not fear destruction by their adversaries because who is there like the Lord our God (Psalm 113,5), Who promised that  I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing (Genesis 12,2).  The faithful Jews could never have imagined the far greater meaning of Malachi=s prophecy later on, and how it would be fulfilled for all ages.

Those who heard, followed, and accepted the words of Jesus would understand more deeply, and realize that the Old Covenant was now perfected and transformed by the New Covenant in the Blood of Christ.  Their faith, our faith, is the Faith of the Church, the Faith of the People of God, the New Israel, redeemed in the Blood of the One Great Lamb of God, sacrificed on the altar of the Cross.  By his Incarnation the Son of God has united himself in some fashion with every man. He worked with human hands, he thought with a human mind, acted by human choice and loved with a human heart. Born of the Virgin Mary, he has truly been made one of us, like us in all things except sin (Gaudium et Spes 22). The Resurrection and Ascension of Jesus confirms His life and redeeming death, and raises our frail nature to the dignity it had before humanity disobeyed in Eden.  In this pledge of future glory, we raise our hearts with joyful hope for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ (Embolism, Prayer at Mass after the Our Father). Each day he comes down from the bosom of the Father upon the altar in the hands of the priest (Undated Writings of St. Francis). He is with us in the Eucharist, and will come again in all His glory.

Christ is still a Sign of Contradiction, and the Church, Mystical Body of Christ, is a >sign contradicted=, as will the Secular Franciscan who lives authentically his/her profession.  We Franciscans are all one with the Church.  The Eucharist is our strength. The presence of Jesus in the Sacrament of the Altar is the Lord Who journeys with us, among us, and within us.  The Constitutions of the Secular Franciscan Order state: The Eucharist is the center of the life of the Church.  Christ unites us to himself and to one another as a single body in it.  Therefore, the Eucharist should be the center of the life of the fraternity.  The brothers and sisters should participate in the Eucharist as frequently as possible, being mindful of the respect and love shown by Francis, who, in the Eucharist, lived all the mysteries of the life of Christ. (Constitutions, Article 14, 2).

The Paschal Mystery we celebrate in the Eucharist is that expression of the Faith of the Church that will always be challenged by the world. Contrary ideologies outside the Church have always affected but never really weakened Her resolve. To the contrary, aggressive, offensive, and oppressive tactics from outside have challenged the Church to reflect, renew, and reform itself.  The transforming power of grace, experienced through the Church=s many trials, have been its strength.  Contrary positions and negative criticisms to Gospel values, centuries-old and well-proven Traditions, and the official teaching of the Magisterium of the Church demand an examination of conscience in truth and humility.  Reform is from within; revolt is from without. Reform demands a constant re-examination and honest acknowledgment of failures and faults, as well as successes and virtues. Focusing only on the negatives, without any concrete response to correct them, can weaken the image of the Church in the modern world and thus affect the personal strength of conviction of the faithful.  Our confidence comes from the words of Scripture, Greater is the One within you than the one who is in world (1 John 4:4), and,  I am with you always, until the end of the age (Matthew 28: 20).

A great early Christian writer, Tertullian, wrote, the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church.   Trials and tribulations affect lives, property, and human rights. Christians in many areas of the world are tragically attacked; many have lost everything, even their lives, rather than compromise their faith.  Their >martyrdom= encourages us to accept our own martyrdom; ours is different than theirs, but no less profitable and effective. The>martyrdom= most of us will face is the martyrdom of being confronted by a society that often, with belligerence or subtle sophistries, challenges the very root of our faith in Christ and the values we hold as God-given. Family, friends, government, work place, school, media, and so many other sectors of our life, can be the subtle or flagrant opponent to all we believe. The Holy Spirit is the gift of Easter Jesus breathed on the Apostles that first Resurrection Sunday. This Holy Spirit strengthens us to maintain: a simple and unshakable faith in all Jesus taught and all that Jesus is; trust in the promise of Jesus, I am with you all days even to the end of the age (Matthew 28: 20)an availability to respond with wholehearted commitment to the Gospel Message, you are my friends if you do what I command you (John 15:14); an apostolic heart that preaches with our life rather than our words the Christ Whom we have come to know and believe; remember the words of St. Peter: To whom shall we go, Lord, you have the words of eternal life (John 6:68); and thus, trust!

Those who see the Church solely as a human institution professing and promoting noble values will always criticize and judge the Church using the values of the world as the measure. The sensus fidelium (>sense of the faithful=) or sensus fidei fidelium (>sense of the faith of the faithful=) is a reality recognized and joyfully celebrated by the Church since its beginning.    The sense of faith must be our guide during the more challenging moments we encounter. Unless we believe with the Church, we will never be able to raise our hearts and  set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. (Colossians 3: 2), and rise above the merely human. The personal profession of faith each one proclaims – >I believe=, not >we believe= – manifests the integrity of our religion and thus the credibility of all we preach in the name of Jesus the Christ. Believe in the Church! Believe with the Church! Believe the Church! … who is the Mystical Body of Christ and always speaks the Truth that comes from God through the work of the Holy Spirit, when in union with the Holy Father, its Chief Shepherd, the Vicar of Christ on earth.

In the Eucharist we believe and >see= what non-believers cannot even imagine.  Our faith in the Eucharist is itself a gift that permits the eyes of the heart to penetrate material appearances and see-believe-receive the divine.  The liturgy is the Church=s way of fulfilling the command of Jesus, Do this in memory of Me.  The >action of the people= (>liturgy=), is the Church=s way of maintaining the presence of Jesus in the Eucharist for the sake of His Mystical Body the Church who need and desire His Presence, and as >viaticum= for the Christian=s journey through life to Life.  The Eucharist is the greatest sign of faith in Christ: >my= faith and >our= faith.   My personal profession of faith united with that of my sisters and brothers in Christ=s redeeming Sacrifice, allows the >I= of a personal commitment to be a >we= of communal profession made visible by the intermingling of our lives – All the believers were one in heart and mind (Acts 4:32) . Those who see us will speak of the Christian as the early non-Christian community spoke of our ancestors in the Faith: See how they love one another (Tertullian Apology 39.6).  Their concrete tangible love was rooted in an unshakable faith in God=s Word and trust in the Eucharist they celebrated. It empowered them to become an effective presence of the Christ they offered and received.

I/We believe that the Eucharist is the real and effective re-presentation of the Sacrifice of Calvary.  I/We believe that Jesus is truly present after the Consecration of the Mass under the appearances of bread and wine.  I/We believe that the Eucharist re-presents the Mystery of Faith that nourishes our souls for life=s journey. I/We believe that a day without the Eucharist is like a day without the Sun – a day without the Eucharist is like a day without the Son of God who seeks an ever-greater relationship and intimacy with us. I/We believe that the Eucharist, Mystery of Faith, is a more understandable reality than the meaningless actions of a world gone awry seeking fulfillment in itself.  I/We believe the Eucharist offers the opportunity to live heaven on earth really and not solely metaphorically.  I/We believe the Eucharist to be the center of all life because it is God-with-us, the focal point of all creation. I/We believe that the Eucharist irradiates power and blessings so that even non-believers sense an unexplainable presence when they are before the Eucharist. The Church draws Her life from the Eucharist (John Paul II, Ecclesia de Eucharistia), a life we, the Church, communicate to others.

The Eucharist poses the question and expects a personal response to the question Jesus made to his followers when some of them left because He spoke of eating His Body and drinking His blood; do you also want to leave? (John 6:67).  The gift of our >will= says with the man whose boy the apostles could not heal, I believe, Lord, help my unbelief (Mark 9:24).  The humility of Christ in the Eucharist urges us to respond, to whom shall we go, Lord, You have the words of eternal life (John 6:68). O sublime humility, O humble sublimity! (St. Francis of Assisi).

As Spiritual Children of the Poverello of Assisi let us re-confirm our love for the Most Blessed Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Jesus; participate more deeply at Mass. Let us prepare well for Mass; and spend some time in thanksgiving after we have received the Lord in the Eucharist.  Let us never forget the value of silence so that we might hear God Who speaks to our hearts, especially after we have received Him in the Sacrament of His Love. Make frequent acts of Spiritual Communion, especially on days that you cannot assist at Mass. Preaching with our lives, let us bring the Christ we receive into the world of the occupations and duties for which we are responsible. Let the Eucharist so shine in your life that whoever sees you sees an image of Jesus. In the Eucharist, Who is Christ, be faithful to Christ and His Church!  Be what you see and receive what you are! (Saint Augustine)

May God bless us; may Mary, Queen and Mother of our Seraphic Family, keep us in the depths of Her Immaculate Heart; and may Our Seraphic Father St. Francis of Assisi watch over each one of us, his Spiritual Children, with loving care.

Peace and Blessings

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

Regional Spiritual Assistant

 

Special Profession Anniversaries in 2019

January Years Professed
Candace Bakasy, OFS 10 years
Paul Beisel, OFS 10 years
Mary DiSanto, OFS 40 years
Nick Kotchision, OFS 20 years
Theresa A. Leone, OFS 50 Years
February
Dr. William Dennis, OFS 15 years
Mary Filipponi, OFS 65 years
Ms. Maria Innocenti, OFS 15 years
Mrs. Helen Jeral, OFS 15 years
Rita Pacheco, OFS 25 years
Ann Pirro, OFS 15 years
John Pirro, OFS 15 years
March
Bill Doyle, OFS 15 years
Tibor Pavlanzsky, OFS 15 years
Anita Vilagossy, OFS 15 years
April
Madeline Anderson, OFS 20 years
Brett Frieze, OFS 10 Years
Cynthia Louden, OFS 55 years
Sally Staats, OFS 10 Years
May
Frances Bossard, OFS 25 years
Susan Buttner, OFS 25 years
Theresa Cassata, OFS 15 years
Diane Fleishinger, OFS 15 years
Mary M. Jacques, OFS 15 years
Amanda Jamnicky, OFS 5 years
Margaret Kolbe, OFS 15 years
Anne Leis, OFS 10 Years
Anne Marie Madrigale, OFS 10 Years
Elizabeth Marczak, OFS 60 Years
Jacob Marquart III, OFS 5 years
Patricia Meisner, OFS 20 years
Angel M Mottola, OFS 55 years
Adela Ortiz-Esposito, OFS 15 years
Marie L. Oscar, OFS 15 years
John A. Oscar, Sr., OFS 15 years
Steve Parris, OFS 5 years
Gloria Prokap, OFS 25 years
Grace Schumann, OFS 30 years
Loretta Shields, OFS 15 years
Patricia Simmons, OFS 20 years
Anne Sullivan, OFS 15 years
Elizabeth Thiel, OFS 10 Years
Kathleen Yurkevicz, OFS 25 years
Maureen Wuelfing, OFS 20 years
June
Donna Benner, OFS 10 Years
Rose Benner, OFS 40 years
Mary Connaire, OFS 15 years
Rose Marie Gantz, OFS 25 years
Mrs. Miriam L Gomez-Bracety, OFS 15 years
Kathleen Hornung, OFS 35 years
Diane Passerin, OFS 15 years
Rita Perry, OFS 20 years
James D. Tynan, OFS 65 years
Patricia M Tynan, OFS 65 years
William Welsh, OFS 40 years
Jerry Yanchek, OFS 20 years
August
Sandra Barto, OFS 10 Years
Emilio Cardona, OFS 10 Years
Patricia Mickey LeRoy, OFS 10 Years
Ann Marie Schramm, OFS 25 years
September
Barbara Bennes, OFS 20 years
Gretchen Bienkowski, OFS 15 years
Mr Ted Bienkowski, OFS 15 years
Joseph Campos, OFS 10 Years
Philomena Fischer, OFS 10 Years
Arline Mazzella, OFS 20 years
Bernadette Ruggiero, OFS 5 years
October
Henry Agosto, OFS 15 years
Carol Davidson, OFS 30 years
Mr. Peter Davidson, OFS 30 years
Pat Ferko, OFS 20 years
Kathleen Fletcher, OFS 20 years
Cristen J Gregory, OFS 15 years
John Guba, OFS 45 years
Joan Guenther, OFS 15 years
Joseph Guenther, OFS 15 years
Anna Gurgel, OFS 20 years
Adele Leder, OFS 15 years
Dolores Lydon, OFS 30 years
Dorothy Maleski, OFS 10 Years
Barbara Meehan, OFS 20 years
Rev. Mr. Daniel Meehan, OFS 20 years
John Perate, OFS 15 years
Joan Pesta, OFS 10 Years
Rosalie Scurio, OFS 20 years
Kathy Serafin, OFS 20 years
Betsy Lou Willets, OFS 30 years
Stephen Williams, OFS 20 years
November
Florence Ammirata, OFS 20 years
Theresa Aponte, OFS 20 years
Marie Bonagura, OFS 20 years
Karen Borgia, OFS 20 years
John P Breslin, OFS 20 years
Eleineo S Choi, OFS 10 Years
Brian Courtney, OFS 5 years
Lynn DeFreitas, OFS 5 years
Marlene Dennis, OFS 20 years
Josephine Fuoco, OFS 40 years
Mrs. Maria Greco, OFS 25 years
Hugh Grier, OFS 35 years
Mari-Michaella Han, OFS 10 Years
James C. Helmlich, OFS 5 years
Mary Hinds, OFS 10 Years
Lucia K Hong, OFS 10 Years
Kate Kleinert, OFS 15 years
Deborah Lewis, OFS 5 years
Theresa Lisiewski, OFS 35 years
Mr. Carmen Lombertino, OFS 15 years
Mary Markowski, OFS 5 years
Lucy Mashura, OFS 20 years
Eileen Mason, OFS 25 years
Warren McGee , OFS 5 years
Geraldine Miller, OFS 20 years
Carol Roberts, OFS 10 Years
Jean Roberts, OFS 10 Years
Elizabeth E Shelly, OFS 20 years
Georgette Wells, OFS 40 years
Bill Wendt, OFS 5 years
Kathryn Yalch, OFS 35 years
Frank Zoltowski, OFS 60 years
December
John Flynn, OFS 5 years
Bernadette Ganiel, OFS 55 years
Marie Ganiel, OFS 55 years
Carla McElven, OFS 35 years
David Misilewich, OFS 40 years
William Ridge, OFS 10 Years
Raymond Vetrini, Jr., OFS 60 years

Glorious Day for the Region!

Brothers and sisters, may the Lord give you peace!  It is not often enough that there is joyful news to share but today is certainly one of those days.  After studying for 20 months, the first Lay Spiritual Assistants’ Class has finished and produced 5 newly certified Lay Spiritual Assistants.  They are: Kathy Agosto, OFS, Liz Bueding, OFS, Imelda Cruz, OFS, Edith Kurzweil, OFS, and Jean Peziak, OFS,
These ladies have worked hard and are to be congratulated!  Many, many thanks to the Lay Spiritual Assistants’ Team:  Justin Carisio, OFS, Marie Clardy, OFS and Cindy Louden, OFS.  Although the ‘students’ worked hard, the team worked harder!  A great effort by all involved has certainly produced fruit!

Congratulations, Mary Filipponi, OFS

Congratulations and Best Wishes to our own Mary Filipponi, OFS, of Holy Assumption fraternity on reaching her 65th anniversary of profession on February 21 and her 93rd birthday on May 1!  There is nothing holding Mary back! She’s even still driving!!