Fr. Francis’ Reflections – June, 2015

francisJune 2015

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.


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

Following are excerpts taken from The Assisi Compilation.  Daily meditative phrases taken from words of Pope St. John Paul II


(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.


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!


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.


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.


Raising himself up slightly on the litter, 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 Your name blessed and glorious throughout the ages. Amen. – Be generous in giving you life to the Lord.


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.


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.


(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!


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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 te 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.


(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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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!


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.


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.


(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.


(St. Francis said to a man who was cursing his lord for taken 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.


(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.

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