Fr. Francis' Reflections - January, 2015

January 2015

 All-powerful, most holy, Almighty and supreme God,

Holy and just Father, Lord King of heaven and earth

we thank You for Yourself, for through Your holy will

and through Your only Son with the Holy Spirit

You have created everything spiritual and corporal

… making us in Your own image and likeness,…

We thank You…

 Following are excerpts taken from various Franciscan writings that refer to St. Francis lover of Chastity.  Daily meditative phrases based on: – Readings from Pope John Paul II


The truly clean of heart are those who look down upon earthly things, seek those of heaven, and, with a clean heart and spirit, never cease adoring and seeing the Lord God living and true (Admonitions, #16) – Let yourselves be charmed by Christ…attracted by his example…loved by the love of the Holy Spirit…fall in love with Jesus Christ.


We carry Him (Jesus) in our heart and body through love and a pure and sincere conscience; and give Him birth through a holy activity, which must shine before others by example. (Letter to Faithful) – Do not be afraid! Open wide the doors to Christ!…Open to his saving power.


He taught them to mortify not only vices and to check the prompting of the flesh, but also to check the external senses, through which death enters the soul. (1Celano, chpt.16) – Human beings are called to become disciples of that Other One who infinitely transcends them, in order to enter at last into true life.


Unbending in discipline he stood upon his guard, taking the greatest care to preserve purity of both soul and body (Major Legend, chpt.5) – In the mystery of his cross and resurrection, Christ…has bridged the infinite distance that separates all people from new life in him.


He used to say that it should be incomparably more tolerable for a spiritual man to endure great cold in his flesh rather than to feel even slightly the heat of carnal lust in his heart. (Major Legend, chpt.5) – Faith must be quickened by love.  It must come alive through the good works which reveal God’s truth in us.


If, at the instigation of the devil, any brother commits fornication, let him be deprived of the habit he has lost by his wickedness, put it aside completely, and be altogether expelled from our Order.  Afterwards he may do penance. (Earlier Rule, chpt.13) – Being a Christian must mean being a witness for Christ.


The Rule of the Lesser Brothers is this: to observe the holy Gospel of Pour Lord Jesus Christ by living in obedience, without anything of one’s own, and in chastity. (Later Rule, chpt.1) – The commandments must … be understood … as a path involving a moral and spiritual journey toward perfection, at the heart of which is love.


He was naturally courteous in manner and speech, and following his heart’s intent, never uttered a rude or offensive word to anyone…His reputation, because of this, became so widespread…that many who knew him said that, in the future, he would be something great. (Three Companions, chpt.1) – Through the Spirit, (Jesus) gives the grace to share his own life and love and provides the strength to bear witness to that love in personal choices and actions.


He taught not only that the vices of the flesh must be mortified and its prompting checked, but also that the exterior senses, through which death enters the soul, should be guarded with the greatest care. (Major Legend, chpt.5) – God who is always merciful even when he punishes … preferred the correction rather than the death of a sinner, did not desire that a homicide (murder of Abel by Cain) be punished by the exaction of another act of homicide.


To carry in his own body the armor of the cross, he held in check his sensual appetites with such a rigid discipline that he scarcely too what was necessary for the sustenance of nature. (Major Legend, chpt.5) – Peace…must become the goal of all men and women of good will.


At that time the brothers dedicated themselves to the practices of fasts, of vigils, of work, in order to dominate the incentives of the flesh. (Anonymous of Perugia) – Peace is our duty: our grave duty, our supreme responsibility.


The brothers were sometimes surprised that he did not often visit such holy handmaids (St. Clare and Sisters) of Christ…but he would say: ’Don’t imagine, dear brothers, that I don’t love them fully…But I am giving you an example, that as I do, so should you also do’. (2Celano, chpt.155) – At the last judgment we shall all be judged without distinction on our practical love of our brothers and sisters.


When he spoke with her (St. Clare) or about her, he never mentioned her by name, but he called her the Christian. (Bro. Stephen) – It will be in the practical love they have shown that many will discover that they have in fact met Christ, although without having known him before in an explicit way.


Father Francis exhorted her (St. Clare) to despise the world…and instilled in her ears the sweetness of being wed to Christ, persuading her to preserve the precious gem of her virginal chastity for her blessed Spouse. (Legend of St. Clare, chpt.5) – If you want peace, reach out to the poor!


(St. Clare) entrusted herself totally to Francis, choosing him as her guide, after God…and she accepted with an ardent heart all that he taught her about the good Jesus. (Legend of St. Clare, chpt.6) – (The church is a ‘pilgrim church’); her pilgrimage is interior: it is a question of a pilgrimage in the Holy Spirit…strengthened by the power of God’s grace promised her by the Lord…


The week that Francis passed from this life, Clare…informed Francis of her desire to see him.  The saint, informed of this, was deeply moved, because he loved Clare and her sisters with a father’s love. (Legend of Perugia) – (There is) a need for a profound transformation of hearts through the rediscovery of the father’s mercy and through victory over misunderstanding and over hostility among brothers and sisters.


(As the body of Francis is brought to Assisi passing San Damiano, Clare and sisters weep saying):Father, what shall we do…Why are you abandoning us poor women?… consolation ebbs away along with you…who will comfort us in so great a poverty, poverty of merit as much as of goods? Who will help us in temptations? (1Celano, bk.2, chpt.10) – Refusal of God’s fatherly love and of his loving gifts is always at the root of humanity’s divisions.


(Clare and Sisters continue): You, who experienced so many temptations!  Who will comfort us in the midst of distress? You, who were so often our help in times of distress!  What bitter separation!, what painful absence!  1Celano, bk.2, chpt.10) – God, ‘rich in mercy’, … does not close his heart to any of his children.


Among the virtues Francis loved and desired the brothers preserve after holy humility he loved the beautiful and immaculate virtue of chastity.(Mirror, #86) – (God) waits for (his children), looks for them, goes to meet them at the place where the refusal of communion imprisons them in isolation and division.


Unbending in discipline, he kept an exceedingly attentive watch over himself.  He took particular care in guarding the priceless treasure in a vessel of clay, that is, chastity, which he strove to possess in holiness and honor through the virtuous purity of both body and soul. (Minor Legend, chpt.3) – The initiative on God’s part is made concrete and manifest in the redemptive act of Christ, which radiates through the world by means of the ministry of the church.


His mastery over the flesh was now so complete that he seemed to have made a covenant with his eyes; he would not only flee far away from carnal sights, but also totally avoid even the curious glance at anything vain. (Minor Legend, chpt.3) – The essence and role of the family are in the final analysis specified by love.


Even though he had attained purity of heart and body, and in some manner was approaching the height of sanctification, he did not cease to cleanse the eyes of his soul with a continuous flood of tears. (Minor Legend, chpt.3) – The family has the mission to guard, reveal and communicate love, and this is a living reflection of and real sharing in God’s love for humanity and the love of Christ the Lord for the church his bride.


We prohibit anyone of you to wander outside of obedience with the habit of your holy religion and thus corrupt the purity of your poverty. (‘Cum Secundum’ of Pope Honorius III) – Man cannot live without love … His life is senseless if love is not revealed to him – if he does not experience it and make it his own, if he does not participate intimately in it.


Encompassed by the weakness of the flesh, a human cannot follow the spotless crucified Lamb so perfectly as to avoid contacting any filth.  Therefore he taught those who strive after the perfect life to cleanse themselves daily…(Major Legend, chpt.5) – (We are) to become a temple of the Blessed Trinity.  What greater degree of communion with God could (we) ever aspire to?


Although he had already attained extraordinary purity of heart and body, he did not cease to cleanse the eyes of his soul with a continuous flood of tears, unconcerned about the loss of his bodily sight. (Major Legend, chpt.5) – The hectic pace of daily activity, combined with the noisy and often frivolous invasiveness of the means of communication, is certainly not something conducive to the interior recollection required for prayer.


(The Dominican theologian after visiting with Francis said to the friars) My brothers, the theology of this man, held aloft by purity and contemplation, is a soaring eagle, while our learning crawls on its belly on the ground. (2Celano, bk.2, chpt.69) – You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you. (St. Augustine)


I beg in the Lord all my brothers who are priests, or who will be, or who wish to be priests of the Most High that whenever they wish to celebrate Mass, being pure, they offer the true Sacrifice of the most holy Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ with purity and reverence, with a holy and unblemished intention …(Letter to the Order) – The Holy Spirit is the gift that comes into man’s heart together with prayer. In prayer he manifests himself first of all as the gift that ‘helps us in our weakness’.


Seeing the Foe was carrying the day, the most high Lord sent in the cavalry with a well-trained commander.  St. Francis was chosen as standard-bearer…He wanted no one to ride with him who did not accept the reins of three bridles: poverty, obedience, and chastity. (Jacopone of Todi) – The new evangelization will show its authenticity and unleash all its missionary force when it is carried out through the gift not only of the word proclaimed but also of the word lived. In particular the life of holiness…


Wherever they may be or may go, let all the brothers avoid evil glances and association with women…Let us all keep close watch over ourselves and keep all our members clean…(Earlier Rule, chpt.12) – The life of holiness…constitutes the simplest and most attractive way to perceive at once the beauty of truth, the liberating force of God’s love, and the value of unconditional fidelity to all the demands of the Lord’s law…


Saint Francis used to engage carefully in a daily, or rather, constant examination of himself and his followers.  Allowing nothing dangerous to remain in them, he drove from their hearts any negligence…he was on his guard at every hour…He taught them to mortify not only vices and to check the prompting of the flesh, but also to check external senses, through which death enters the soul. (1Celano, chpt.16) – The Mother of God is a type of the church in the matter of faith, charity and perfect union with Christ … the church brings forth to a new and immortal life children who are conceived of the Holy Spirit and born of God. (Vatican II)


When proclaiming the word of the Lord before thousands of people, he was calm and confident, as though he were speaking with his brother and companion (2Celano, chpt.107) – Human weaknesses do not hinder God’s work in the soul, while human pride does.

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