Father Francis' Reflections for November 2017

November 2017

Most High, all-powerful, good Lord,

Yours are the praises, the glory, and the honor, and all blessing,

To you alone, Most High, do they belong,

and no human is worthy to mention Your name.

Praised be You, my Lord, with all Your creatures,

especially Sir Brother Sun, …  Sister Moon and the stars, …Brother Wind, …

Sister Water, … Brother Fire, … our Sister Mother Earth, …

Praised be You, my Lord, through those who give pardon for Your love, …

Praised be you, my Lord, through our Sister Bodily Death,

from whom no one living can escape.

Woe to those who die in mortal sin.

Blessed are those whom death will find in Your most holy will,

for the second death shall do them no harm.

Praise and bless my Lord and give Him thanks and serve Him with great humility.

Amen.

(Canticle of the Creatures [abbreviated] by Saint Francis of Assisi)

 

The month of November celebrates Life Everlasting of those in God’s Glory and those in God’s Mercy.

Daily reflections are taken from various sources

1

(St. Francis) did indeed come down from where the sun rises, as, ever rising from strength to strength, following the deeds of Christ as he grew in his humanity, he configured his holy way of living to the life of Christ. – We were made for heaven. The Christian life means journeying here below with our hearts turned upwards, toward our heavenly Father’s house.

2

This reached the high point of his carrying the seal of the living God; he lived to become worthy to have on his body the imprints of the wounds of the Crucified. – Pray fervently for the dead, for their family members, and for all our brothers and sisters who have died, that they may obtain the remission of the punishments due to their sins and may hear the Lord’s call.

3

Now, as to Christ’s life itself, an attentive survey of the gospels will reveal its salient features, its most striking notes: the crucifixion, the profound humility, the extreme poverty, the fervor of charity shown by desiring our salvation in undergoing the torment of the cross, as well as by the sheer graciousness of His stooping to compassionate sinners and the afflicted. – The ‘little ones’ according to the gospel are those who know they are God’s creatures and shun all presumption. They expect everything from the Lord and so are never disappointed.

4

Yet the crowning perfection of Christ’s life lay in His interior cultivation and consummation of divine charity.  In one continuous act, on His own behalf and that of all His members, He duly paid the service of worship to the divinity, to which in His own person He was united. – This is the basic attitude of the believer: Faith and humility are inseparable.

5

The fact is that the Blessed Jesus, virginal Son born of virginity, saw fit to transfuse purity into (Francis), since complete cleanness cannot live in tainted flesh without a continuous crucifixion of self. That is why the most pious Jesus…afflicted His own sacred flesh…Francis, his true son and imitator, taking this to heart, disciplined himself so rigidly… – Justice and peace are not abstract concepts or remote ideals. They are values that dwell in the heart of every individual.

6

So, he called his frail body an ‘ass’, gave it endless hard work to do, provided it with coarse coverings and a bed of straw, and fed it with small amounts of inferior fare. – Individuals, families, communities, and nations, all are called to live in justice and to work for peace. No one can claim exemption from this responsibility.

7

In order to achieve full purity of heart he completely abstained from all familiarity which might inwardly defile him and give bad example to others. – Freedom is not only the choice for one or another particular action; it is also, within that choice, a decision about oneself and a setting of one’s own life for or against the good, for or against the truth, and ultimately for or against God.

8

He had become so candid in mind, so clean in heart, that he seemed to have attained the state of innocence at that time … he had practically all creatures, even the inanimate, at his command; a level of grace, indeed, in which he surpassed natural innocence … Thus did the elements put themselves at the service of the unspoiled Francis – If we truly love with the love of God, we will also love our brothers or sisters as God loves them. This is the newness of Christianity: One cannot love God if one does not love one’s brethren.

9

He so perfectly imitated Christ that his wish was to place himself and his Order at the feet of everybody.  In order to be the least of all, he did not want to have any of the Church’s authority, except her authority for observing the holy Gospel. – The indispensable source of energy and renewal, when frailty and weakness increase, is the encounter with the living Christ, Lord of the covenant.

10

He certainly wanted to promote the salvation of souls, but only through the virtue of humility, not with pompous power. And though … he had several Supreme Pontiffs … who held him in the highest regard, sincerely convinced of his sanctity … he would never ask for or accept any privilege that might diminish his being a humble subject. – Develop an intense spiritual life and open your soul to the word of life.

11

For this reason, Francis, in his holy Testament, forbids all brothers, prelates, and subjects, to ask for any letter from the Apostolic See either to facilitate the work of preaching or to avoid persecution. The humble Francis used to say that when they meekly ask permission of bishops and priests, they were by their example edifying the very pastors of the Church – To pray is not to escape from history and the problems that it presents.  On the contrary, it is to choose to face reality not on our own, but with the strength that comes from on high, the strength of truth and love, which have their ultimate source in God.

12

Even if permission were refused, patience and humility will bring them to change their minds; meanwhile they themselves, by bearing refusal patiently, will keep intact a virtuous and flawless way of acting. – Human perfection consists not simply in acquiring an abstract knowledge of truth, but in a dynamic relationship of faithful self-giving with others.

13

To brothers who troubled him over their reluctance to be a this level of submissiveness to everyone, he replied in deeply plaintive terms: ‘My brothers, my brothers, what you want of me is to give up overcoming the world.  For Christ sent me top overcome the world by being subject to everyone, so that by love I might draw souls to Him through the example of humility’. – Let yourself be charmed by God, the Infinite, who appeared among you in visible and imitable form.

14

‘My brothers, humble yourselves before others, and you will convert them all.  Those who persecute you unjustly will turn to Christ, having seen your patience tried, and they will be anxious to kiss your footprints…’ – Fall in love with Jesus Christ, to live his very life, so that our world may have life in the light of the gospel.

15

‘But if I were to use the salvation of others as a pretext for wanting some prerogative, it would mean my forfeiting the humblest of positions which belongs to the condition I am in.  And it is through that  I advance in virtue, and the people advance in the mercy that save them’. – Love is the principle of divine life in the soul. Love is the law of our abiding in Christ.

16

He wanted to rule out for them all affectation to ecclesiastical dignity and maintain them in their lowly existence.  For this reason he called them ‘lesser’, so that they would not presume to become ‘greater’, and in no way did he wish them to aspire to the rank of prelacy. – Only genuine evangelical love will be strong enough to help communities pass from mere tolerance of others to real respect for their differences.

17

For everybody knows well enough that their ascent to rank spelled their descent from virtue…what they sought in promotion was not so much an improvement of other’s conduct as a life of relaxation for themselves. For, self-denying once, they have turned into gluttons; poor men once, they have become grasping and greedy; thought nothing of once, they have ended up proud and arrogant. – Only Christ’s redeeming grace can make us victorious in the daily challenge of turning from egoism to altruism, from fear to openness, from rejection to solidarity.

18

Oh, what a true prophet Francis was! …  The humble Francis, in order to keep himself on the lowest possible level and to confound the ambitions of the future, had no desire to be promoted to the priesthood.  As he saw it, … the guidance of souls was not to be conducted through prelacy, if it were to be beneficial, but rather to be committed to the spirit of poverty. – We need more heart.

19

To men of perfection…nothing should be a source of bother except what would drive them to sin, to which, of course, no one is forced against his will. – God’s love is love which is freely given … He loved us first.  He took the initiative.

20

Apart from Jesus, his most humble Mother, and the college of the Apostles, never should the world have in it such a profound expression of lowliness as that of this status of poor lesser ones, nor indeed such a gross deformation of it as that of those who fall away. – To heal the wounds of a recent bitter and painful past, one needs patience and wisdom, a spirit of initiative and honesty.

21

And because Francis crushed pride underfoot with his humility, he held off the proud demons with authority.  Therefore he was showing that his status was blasting away pride from the world. – The Christian vocation is walking with men and women as brothers or sisters, sharing their joys and hopes, difficulties and sufferings, offering them the road word which rekindles hope in their hearts.

22

For whoever, like Francis, keeps the humility of Jesus continually before his eyes and is delighted to resemble Him in meekness of heart, will subject himself to everyone and loathe issuing commands and prohibitions. The blessed Francis did commend humble obedience in the strongest terms, and observed it to the extent of always wanting to obey his brother companion. – Selfishness makes people deaf and dumb.

23

(Francis) put a restraining clause (in the Rule) to protect subjects, when he told ministers not to command them anything that is against their souls and our Rule, and subjects to obey in all things which they have promised the Lord to observe and are not against their souls and our Rule. – Love opens eyes and hearts, enabling people to make that original and irreplaceable contribution which … can change the tide of history.

24

The obedience of Francis cannot contain a greater purity, integrity, or depth, since it obeys in all things and refuses to obey false traditions that destroy the Rule, for to obey them is to apostatize.  Because it follows from the fact a prelate (superior) derives his authority from the Rule, that to command or obey something contrary to it is to apostatize from the Rule. – Ezekiel 21-22; Sirach 31.1-15; 1 John 3 – The future of evangelization depends in great part on the church of the home.

25

But, do we want to go further with Francis’s idea of obedience?  He himself, after all, was in everything the least of all the lesser ones. Well might we compare him to the tiniest of infants … or to the smallest of all seeds … or to the least of all the saints … or to Benjamin, the smallest of his brothers, who in many ways was a type of Francis… – Every authentically religious person is obliged to ask God for the gift of peace, with renewed determination to promote and build peace together with other believers.

26

O Francis, true Benjamin! The first-born Joseph had you seated at the table of evangelical life with your other holy brothers.  There your portion exceeds the others by the five portions of the sacred wounds … – It is not easy to proclaim the gospel in a world that claims not to need God.  Yet we are bound by the compelling words of St. Paul: ‘Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel’

27

He leads the whole Church of the people of Israel to the evangelical life and the full news of Christ … Humble and despised, the cup of your brothers’ evangelical wisdom and observance of the Rule and your most holy witness is contained, hidden, in the sack of observance of poverty. – The desire for unity is born and grows from the renewal of the mind, the love of truth, self-denial, and the free outpouring of love.

28

How Francis proved himself the friend of the bridegroom, by striving to conform himself to Jesus through the fervor of his charity and desire for the salvation of those to whom he was brother, is evinced by the fact that from the beginning of his conversion to the end he blazed continually like a fire with an ardent love for Jesus. – If you want peace, reach out to the poor!

29

Fanned by the breath of the Holy Spirit, he kept the furnace of his heart ever ignited, so that once he heard the love of God mentioned he was excited, moved, and animated as the beloved spouse … – God loves everyone, … wills the good of everyone, … and offers to everyone the gift of peace!

30

All things created were a means by which he fired this love of his.  Through looking on things of beauty he would contemplate the Beautiful; in frail creatures he would recognize the infirmities which Jesus in His goodness bore for our salvation.  He made a ladder of everything by which he could reach the One he loved. – Every day dedicate some time to conversing with God.  This is a sincere proof of your love for him, for love always seeks to be near the beloved.

 

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