Reflections from Father Francis, May 2017

May 2017

Hail, O Lady, holy Queen, you are the virgin made church

and the one chosen by the most holy Father in heaven

whom He consecrated with His most holy beloved Son

and with the Holy Spirit the Paraclete,

in whom there was and is all the fullness of grace and every good.

Hail, His Palace! Hail, His, Tabernacle! Hail, His Home!

Hail, His Robe! Hail, His Servant!  Hail, His Mother!

And hail all you holy virtues which through the grace and light of the Holy Spirit

are poured into the hearts of the faithful so that from

their faithless state you may make them faithful to God.

(Salutation of the Blessed Virgin)

 

Following are excerpts taken from various Franciscan writings

Daily meditative phrases from various sources

1

It was not that he was a man who prayed, than he himself was a living prayer. (2 Celano,chpt.95) – Abraham hoped everything would stay put, but he left everything and everyone on God’s word and traveled into the unknown.

2

His sure harbor was prayer not for a moment, … but profoundly devout, humble and prolonged as much as possible.  If he began at night, with difficulty he ended his prayer in the morning. (1 Celano,chpt.71) – Like Abraham, we are sustained by not simply a promise, but by the Promise of God which was fleshed out in Jesus.

3

Often, almost daily, he withdrew secretly to pray.  He was inclined to do so by that same tenderness he had tasted  earlier, which now visited him ever more frequently, driving him to prayer in the piazza and in other public places. (Three Companions,chpt.3) – Moses longed to see his dreams completed and stopped short of the land he was allowed to see but not enter.

4

Francis … totally unaware of earthly desires through love of Christ, and strove to keep his spirit present to God by praying without ceasing lest he be without them consolation of the Beloved. (Major Legend,chpt.10) – It was enough for Moses to be given evidence of the future to die fulfilled and in peace.

5

The man of God gathered with his companions … they spent their time praying incessantly, directing their efforts mentally rather than vocally to devoted prayers, because they did have liturgical books from which to chant the canonical hours. (Major Legend,chpt.4) – Joseph, in spite of the rough breaks he had experienced since being sold by his brothers, refused to quit.

6

Let all the brothers always strive to exert themselves in doing good works … Servants of God, therefore, must always apply themselves to prayer or some good work. (Earlier Rule,chpt.7) – God intends you to be the person on whom He has cvonferred a unique ‘personhood’. God has committed Himself to you…agree to do the same to Him.

7

Let us always make a home and a dwelling place for Him Who is the Lord God Almighty, father, Son and Holy Spirit, Who says: Be vigilant at all times and pray that you have the strength to escape the tribulations that are imminent … When you stand to pray say: Our Father in heaven. (Earlier Rule,chpt.22) – David wanted to build a monument to God but had to prepare the material for another to build.

8

Those brothers to whom the Lord has given the grace of working may work faithfully and devotedly so that, while avoiding idleness, the enemy of the soul, they do not extinguish the Spirit of holy prayer and devotion to which all temporal things must contribute. (Later Rule,chpt.5) – You who are meant to be part of God’s family, are one of the community of the Crucified One; you too must crucify self and forget ego trips…Trust Him!

9

I admonish and exhort the brothers in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ to … pay attention to what they must desire above all else: to have the Spirit of the Lord and Its holy activity, to pray always to Him with a pure heart, to have humility and patience in persecution and infirmity. (Later Rule,chpt.10) – Elijah was so demoralized he wanted to give up, but God knew the inner strength of Elijah and gave him a firm ‘no’.

10

I am pleased that you teach sacred theology to the brothers providing that, as is contained in the Rule, you do not extinguish the Spirit of prayer and devotion, during study of this kind. (Letter to St. Anthony) – There is no permanent retirement for a Christian, only temporary respites from time to time to rest and reequip.

11

Francis used to say that, because of the office of prelacy or of zeal for preaching, they should not abandon holy and devout prayer, going for alms. Working at times with their hands, and performing other humble tasks like the other brothers, for good example and for the benefit of their souls, as well as others. (Mirror,chpt.73) – Jonah tried to run away from God’s Will and acceptance of his responsibilities, but he couldn’t run from God.

12

He said that (ministers of the word of God) were heralds chosen by a great king…For he used to say: The preacher must first secretly draw in by prayer what he later pours out in sacred preaching; he must first of all grow warm on the inside, or he will speak frozen words on the outside.  (2Celano,chpt.122) – God still replies in the negative to those who claim a special relationship, but try to escape from responsibilities, or fall into a narrow, self-centered outlook.

13

(Description of General Minister) … He must be a committed friend of holy prayer, who can distribute some hours for his soul and others for the flock entrusted to him … (2Celano,chpt.139) – Job questioned God and demanded answers, but God gave him no answers; His questions were more profound and penetrating.

14

They never or hardly ever stopped praying and praising God…They gave thanks to God for the good done…They would have thought themselves abandoned by God if they did not experience in their ordinary prayers that they were constantly visited by the spirit of devotion. (1Celano,chpt.15) – We present-day Jobs also are promised God’s sufficiency. He gives more than answers … He shares His life with us.

15

They were so devoted to prayer that there was no hour of the night that someone could not be found at prayer in the oratory. (Thomas Eccleston,#27) – The God who has committed Himself to us insists on a like-minded commitment.

16

The brothers at that time begged him to teach them how to pray, because, walking in simplicity of spirit, up to that time they did not know … (1Celano,chpt.17) – The ‘covenanting’ God has given His word to us that He will not desert us.  That promise has been sealed in blood – literally!

17

He implored divine clemency to show him what he had to do. (Major Legend,chpt.1) – The cross has been so sentimentalized by so many generations of songwriters and preachers that it no longer has any sting.

18

He had recourse to prayer that he might insistently implore what the will of God was regarding some specific matter. (Major Legend,1) – You have been given the gift of living and dying just one death. You may lay down your e energies, your time, and your goods for others, or you may stockpile self until it crushes you.

19

Fasting and weeping, he earnestly prayed for the savior’s mercy, and lacking confidence in his own efforts, he cast his care upon the Lord. (1Celano,chpt.5) – Time does not necessarily heal all wounds; sometimes it merely covers them with scar tissue.

20

Foreseeing the great things that God would do through him and his Order … he was calling and praying to God that, by his mercy and omnipotence, without which human frailty can do nothing, he should supply, help, and fulfill that which he could not do by himself. (Little Flowers,chpt.2) – Jesus has called ‘friend’ the one we would label ‘enemy’; He pronounces themm subjects of concern rather than objects of contempt.

21

Francis said: Wait for me a bit, because I first want to pray to God that He make our journey fruitful, that Christ, by virtue of His most holy passion, be pleased to give us poor and weak men this noble prey that we’re planning to take from the world. (Little Flowers,chpt.37) – Peter tried to bury his guilt of denial and grief of lose in work; he couldn’t forget or conceal in activity his ‘failure’.

22

He saw St. Francis devoutly at prayer before Christ, who had appeared to him during that prayer and was in front of him … he saw Francis lifted up bodily from the earth.  Because of this he was touched by God and inspired to leave the world … (Little Flowers,chpt.37) – The Resurrection is God’s mighty ‘no’ to depression and death.

23

He never ceased crying out to God with humble prayers and fervent affection, that God would protect the Order and grant salvation to all the friars, present and future. (Angelo Clareno) – A beggar pleaded for a handout and was given a hand up. God gives us His gifts that we may learn to help ourselves.

24

As blessed Francis got up, he joined his hands and, lifting his eyes to heaven, said: Lord, I give back to You the family which until now you have entrusted to me… (2Celano,chpt.104) – We carry the name ‘Christian’ and stand strong in its meaning.

25

Once while his vicar was holding a chapter, he was praying in his cell, as the go-between and mediator between his brothers and God. (Major Legend,chpt.11) – Paul begged for healing and was given a thorn in the flesh, and an reminder that ‘my strength is sufficient’.

26

After I resigned my office among the brothers because of my illnesses … I am not bound at all except to pray for the religion and to show good example… the greatest help I can render to the religion is to spend time everyday in prayer to the Lord for it.  (Mirror,#81) – St.Teresa: Lord when you will cease to strew our path with obstacles? And the Lord: Don’t complain, this is how I treat my friends.  St.Teresa: Dear Lord, that is why You have so few.

27

The abbot of the monastery of San Giustino…happened to meet Saint Francis…he humbly asked him to pray for him, and Saint Francis replied: My Lord, I will willingly pray… when the abbot had ridden away, he said to the brother with him: Wait for me a little while, brother, for I want to pay the debt I promised. (2Celano,chpt.117) – There is a certain enjoyment of unpleasant places when the challenges they offer help us to grow.

28

A pilgrim while in the body, away from the Lord, Francis, man of God, strove to keep himself present in spirit to heaven…With all his soul he thirsted for his Christ…We will tell…about the wonders of his prayer, things that we have seen with our own eyes. (2Celano,chpt.61) – The all-powerful Lord turns even the causes of our curses into good.

29

He found (Greccio) rich in poverty and there, in a remote little cell on a cliff, he could give himself freely yo heavenly things.  (2Celano,chpt.7) – Jesus is not a ‘departed hero’, a ‘deceased leader’, but the living Lord, Who does not leave us to fend for ourselves.

30

Brother Body should be cared for with discernment…so it won’t get weary keeping vigil and staying fervently at prayer. (2Celano,chpt.92) – At the time when the outlook seems most bleak and pessimistic, God frequently opens new doors.  Sometimes, God seemingly allows roadblocks because He has bigger plans for us.

31

When he returned from his private prayers, in which he was changed almost into a different man, he tried his best to resemble the others, lest, if he appeared glowing, the breeze of favor might cancel what he had gained. (2Celano,chpt.65) – ‘Help’ signals often are hard to pick up. God, however, patiently waits for us to be sensitive enough to detect those signs and signals from others.

 

 

 

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