Father Francis’ Reflections January 2017

1
Blessed Francis held that to beg for alms for the love of the lord God was of the greatest nobility, dignity, and courtesy before God and before this world … blessed Francis would say that a servant of God must beg alms for the love of God with greater freedom and joy … –  In order to love Jesus, we must offer to others the gift of ourselves.
2
I must be a model to your poor.  Especially because I know that in the life and religion of the brothers there are and will be Lesser Brothers, in name and in deed, humble in all things, obedient and of service to their brothers. –  It is only in the giving of ourselves through charity, service and compassion that we can experience true joy.
3
At…Rivo Torto, there was a brother…who prayed little, did not work, and did not want to go for alms…blessed Francis…told him:  Go on your way, Brother Fly, because you want to feed on the labor of your brothers, but wish to be idle in the work of God…he went away…and did not ask for mercy. –  Suffering is transformed and elevated when, in those moents, we become aware of God’s closeness and solidarity.
4
When blessed Francis lay gravely ill…he often asked his companions during the day to sing the Praises of the Lord which he had composed a long time before his illness. –  There is something of the apostle Thomas in every human being.  Each one is tempted by unbelief.
5
(Blessed Francis said to Brother Elias) Allow me to rejoice in the Lord, Brother, and to sing His praises in my infirmities, because, by the grace of the Holy Spirit, I am closely united and joined with my Lord, through His mercy, I can well rejoice in the Most High Himself. –  We have to open our eyes and our heart to the light of the Holy Spirit.
6
Blessed Francis did not want to address anyone called ‘Good’ by their name, out of reverence for the Lord, who said: No one is good but God alone.  –  May every family truly rediscover its own vocation to love!
7
(Blessed Francis) did not want to call anyone ‘father’ or ‘master’, nor write them in letters, out of reverence for the Lord who said:  Call no one on earth your father nor be called masters, etc. –  Do not separate your faith from your daily life and your daily life from your faith, as so many people do today.
8
(Blessed Francis said to the doctor): Tell me the truth. How does it look to you?  Do not be afraid,  for, by the grace of God, I am not a coward who fears death… –  The life and the whole being of each Christian must be unified around a central axis: fidelity to Jesus Christ.
9
With the Lord’s help, by His mercy and grace, I am so united and joined with my Lord that I am equally as happy to die as I am to live –  In every circumstance, the starting point is to intensify prayer (in order) to increase one’s faith and make it more vigorous.
10
At the beginning of the religion, when blessed Francis would go with a brother who was one of the first twelve brothers, that brother would greet men and women along the way as well as those in their field, saying: May the Lord give you peace. –  God alone is our true and unfailing support.
11
Blessed Francis instructed all the brothers … that they should not abandon holy and devout prayer. Going for alms, and working with hands like the other brothers, for good example and for the benefit of their souls as well as others –  Love and prayer are the only sure spiritual levers with which it is possible to lift up the world.
12
(Blessed Francis said): The brothers who are subjects are very edified when their ministers and preachers devote themselves freely to prayer; and the subjects are inclined to humility, when they see the prelates and the greater ones co-operating in their enterprises and labors. –  We are all called to live a life of holiness.
13
That faithful disciple and imitator of Christ (Blessed Francis), while he was in good health, practiced what he taught the brothers. –  In baptism God has chosen each one of us ‘to be holy and spotless and to live through love in his presence’.
14
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. – The Holy Spirit makes man realize his own evil and at the same time directs him toward what is good.
15
Blessed Francis praised God with great fervor of spirit and joy of body and soul, and told (the brother who informed him of his terminal condition): If I am to die soon, call Brother Angelo and Brother Leo that they may sing to me about Sister death. – Thanks to the multiplicity of the Spirit’s gifts, every kind of human sin can be reached by God’s saving power.
16
From the beginning of his conversion blessed Francis, with God’s help, like a wise man, established himself and his house, that is, the religion, on a firm rock, the greatest humility and poverty of the Son of God, calling it the religion of ‘Lesser Brothers’ –  Love nothing more than Christ who reveals to the world the mystery of divine love and true human dignity.
17
After the brothers grew in number, he wanted the brothers to stay in hospitals of lepers to serve them…whenever nobles and commoners came to the religion, they were told, among other things, that they had to serve the lepers and stay in their houses. – True relationships are rich in inner depth, gratuitousness, and self-sacrifice.
18
Let the brothers remain as strangers and pilgrims in the houses in which they stay.  Let them not seek to have anything under heaven, except holy poverty, by which, in this world, they are nourished by God with bodily food and virtue, and, in the next, will attain a heavenly inheritance. – Love Christ present in those burdened by illness.
19
The bishop (of Terni) said: …God has beautified his Church with this little poor man, lowly, unlettered…And because of this you should live and honor the Lord and avoid sin for He has done thus for every nation. – Call with faith on the name of Jesus (and experience the power that flows from that Name).
20
Blessed Francis bowed down before the Lord Bishop and fell down at his feet, saying to him … (People) attribute glory and holiness to the creature, not to the Creator.  You, however, like a discerning man, have separated what is precious from what is vile. – Provided that we approach the word of God and listen to it as it really is, it brings us into contact with God himself.
21
If at any moment the Lord wanted to take back the treasure He has loaned to me, what would I have left except just body and soul, which even non-believers have? – 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.
22
I must believe, rather, that if the Lord had granted a thief and even a non-believer as many gifts as He has given me, they would be more faithful to the Lord than I. – The Holy Spirit is the author of our sanctification.
23
… a servant of God … must not attribute anything to himself, but give all honor and glory to God.  He should not attribute anything to himself while he is alive except shame and trouble, because, while he is alive, the flesh is always opposed to God’s gifts. – The Holy Spirit transforms us deep down, divinizes us, makes us participants in divine nature, just as fire makes metal incandescent, just as spring water quenches thirst.
24
A few years after his conversion he resigned the office of prelate (superior) before all the brothers during a chapter held at Saint Mary of the Portiuncula.  From now on, he said, I am dead to you.  But here is Brother Peter di Catanio: let us all, you and I, obey him. –  Christians need reconciliation with one another; we need mutual forgiveness.
25
I want you to put one of my companions in your place regarding me, so that I may obey him as I would obey you.  For the sake of good example and the virtue of obedience, in life and in death I always want you to be with me. –  – (We should 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.
26
Among other favors, the Most High has given me this grace: I would obey a novice who entered our religion today, if he were appointed my guardian, just as readily as I would obey him who is the first and the eldest in the life and religion of the brothers. –  Be men and women of integrity and sound moral character worthy of the respect and trust we seek from others.
27
A subject should not consider his prelate, a human being, but God, for love of Whom he is subject to him… But the Most High gave me this grace: that I want to be content with all, as one who is lesser in the religion. – We must enrich the world not only by the gifts God has entrusted to us, but also by our goodness.
28
Frequently, when some of he brothers did not provide for his needs, or said something to him that would ordinarily offend a person, he would immediately go to prayer.  On returning, he did not want to remember it … – The first step in evangelization is to accept the grace of conversion into our own minds and hearts, to let ourselves be reconciled to God.
29
The closer he approached death, the more careful in complete perfection he became in considering how he might live and die in complete humility and poverty. – Our relationship with God demands times of explicit prayer, in which the relationship becomes an intense dialogue, involving every dimension of who we are.
30
A few years after he began to have brothers, (Clare) was converted to the Lord through his advice…Her conversion not only greatly edified the religion of the brothers, but also the entire Church of God. – 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.
31
Saturday evening before nightfall, after vespers, when blessed Francis passed to the Lord, many birds called larks flew low above then roof of the house where blessed Francis lay, wheeling in a circle and singing.  We, who were with blessed Francis, have written about this … – 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.

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