Daily Reflections from Fr Francis - September, 2015

St. Francis & The EucharistLet us desire nothing else,

let us wish for nothing else,

let nothing else please us and cause us delight,

except our Creator and redeemer and Savior,

the one true God, Who is fullness of Good,

all Good, every Good, the true and Supreme Good,

Who alone is merciful and gentle, delectable and sweet,

Who alone is holy, just and true, holy and right,

Who alone is kind, innocent, pure,

from Whom and through Whom and in Whom

is all pardon, all grace, all glory …

Therefore, let nothing hinder us,

nothing separate us or come between us.

Let us all, wherever we are …

Glorify and exalt, magnify and give thanks to the Most High

and supreme eternal God … Amen.

(Saint Francis of Assisi)

The month of September celebrates the Impression of the Sacred Stigmata on the Body of our Seraphic father St. Francis of Assisi. Following are excerpts taken from Considerations on the Stigmata, found in many editions of The Little Flowers of St. Francis of Assisi. Daily reflections are taken from Various writings of St. Francis.


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

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