Father Francis' Reflections for December 2017

All-powerful God, everlasting, just and good, of ourselves we are nothing but poverty; but grant, for your own sake, that we may do what we know is your will, and always desire what is pleasing to you…Amen. Let 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) 

 

Following are daily excerpts taken from various Franciscan writings

Daily meditative phrases from various sources

 

1

His sermons were not vain and shallow but they were filled with them power of the holy Spirit (Major Legend,chpt.2) – God’s mercy, if we only let him take over, will take us much farther and higher than our own scant justice.

2

He began to preach all over with great commitment and assurance.  He did not have recourse to reasoning founded on human wisdom, but based his teachings on the doctrine and virtue of the Holy Spirit, faithfully proclaiming the kingdom of God (Three Companions,chpt.54) – God’s predilection for the humblest and lowest emphasizes the point that he likes to make of upsetting men’s calculations and betraying expectations based on rank, merit, age or tradition.

3

His style was not as one preaching but as one who is conversing…he spoke clearly and respectably (Thomas of Spalato) – Self-reliance will get us nowhere…the whole process is better looked after when placed in he hands of God than when held tight in our grip as though we were bent on seeing it through at all costs by ourselves.

4

His words were like and ardent fire that penetrated the depths of the heart and filled the mind with admiration; … (his preaching) had the aroma and essence of divine revelation (Major Legend,chpt.12) – The fact that we fall is not important, but the hopeful effect of the fall to make us turn to God…is such a necessary lesson that it outweighs the fall and soothes the hurt.

5

He always used simple and very practical examples when preaching to the uneducated people, for he realized that virtue is more important than (stylish) words (Major Legen,chpt.12) – When faith joins hands with reason, their union bears the happiest fruits of spiritual understanding and heavenly wisdom; but the way to that union is paved with difficulties.

6

When proclaiming the word of the Lord before thousands of people, he was calm and confident, as though he were speaking with his brother and companion (2Celano,chpt.107) – Human weaknesses do not hinder God’s work in the soul, while human pride does.

7

From the purity of his heart he acquired the self-assurance of his words; even when he was unexpectedly invited to preach, he spoke marvelous things that had not been heard before (2Celano,chpt.107) – Pray in faith and you will obtain all you need…Jesus never disappoints.

8

He did not offer excuses for those living sinful lives, but he chastised them firmly, having himself practiced what he was now asking others to do (1Celano,chpt.36) – Faith is the greatest power on earth, and prayer its exercise.

9

He was speaking with such fire of spirit that he could not contain himself for joy.  As he brought forth the word from his mouth, he moved his feet as if dancing, not playfully, but burning with the fire of divine love, not provoking laughter but moving them to tears of sorrow. (1Celano,chpt.27)  – Petitionary prayer increases faith…Grow in faith by practicing prayer; and practice prayer by asking God for what you need…

10

Let no brother preach contrary to the rite and practice of the Church or without the permission of his minister.  Let the minister be careful of granting it without discernment to anyone. (Earlier Rule,chpt.17) – It is not easy to ask, because petition is submission, is dependence, is humility and is commitment.

11

Let all the brothers, however, preach by their deeds. No minister or preacher may make a ministry of the brothers or the office of preaching his own, but, when he is told, let him set it aside without objection. (Earlier Rule,chpt.17) –  To pray is to anticipate the parousia.  May the Kingdom come today in token and in sign, so that it may come one day in its fullness.

12

I admonish and exhort those brothers that when they preach their language be well-considered and chaste for the benefit and edification of them people, announcing to them vices and virtues, punishment and glory, with brevity, because our Lord when on earth kept his word brief. (Later Rule,chpt.9) –  The danger of prayer is that we very correctly pray for ‘the right things’, with no desire to receive them.

13

He wanted ministers of the word of God to be intent on spiritual study and not hindered by other duties.  He said that these men were heralds chosen by a great king to deliver to the people the decrees received from his mouth. (2Celano,chpt.122) –  Prayer, when made with sincerity, brings us face to face with God and makes us deal with him a person to person..

14

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) – When we have some years behind us and look back on life, and come to realize how wise God was in not granting some of our prayers, we may even thank Him for not giving us what we did not know for what we were asking.

15

We should honor and revere all theologians and those who minister to us the words of God, as those who minister to us ‘spirit and life’. (2Celano,chpt.122) – Our view of things is of necessity short, biased and selfish, and we grab impatiently the quick relief when the true benefit would be the long endurance.

16

He…directed himself to invoke the grace of the Holy Spirit.  Suddenly he began to overflow with such effective eloquence and to move the minds of the high-ranking men to compunction with such force and power that it was clearly evident it was not he, but the Spirit of the Lord who was speaking. (Major Legend,chpt.12) – God can well answer a prayer for escape with a grace to endure. Instead of removing the trial, God grants the strength to go through it.

17

In the presence of the Cardinal, Francis addressed himself to the brothers and said: ‘Christ…has told me: ‘I want you…by word and work to preach the folly of the cross’. (Angelo Clareno) – ‘Lord, give me what is best for me’…can you pray this without conditions or hesitating?

18

We are mothers when we carry Him in our heart and body through a divine love and a pure and sincere conscience and give birth to Him through a holy activity which must shine as an example before others. (Letter to the Faithful,chpt.1) – The courage to pray in the face of rejection brings us close to Jesus himself in the deepest moment of his life.

19

A person is as learned as his actions show; and a religious is only as good a preacher as his actions show; for a good tree is known only by its fruit. (Mirror of Perfection,chpt.1,#4) – Every unanswered prayer is Gethsemane.

20

As you announce peace with your mouth, make sure that greater peace is in your hearts. Let no one be provoked to anger or scandal through you, but may everyone be drawn to peace, kindness, and harmony through your gentleness. For we have been called to this: to heal the wounded, bind up the broken, and recall the erring…(Three Companions, chpt.14) – Faith has to be tried in order to be itself, and the greatest trial for the believer is to feel abandoned by God.

21

A preacher must be wept over, as over someone without real piety, who in preaching seeks not the salvation of souls, but his own praise, or who destroys with the depravation of his life what he builds up with the truth of teaching. (Major Legend,chpt.8) – Suffering is not a problem to be discussed, but a reality, dark and painful though it is, to be lived.

22

The lord Pope confirmed their Rule and authorized them to preach in whatever church they so desired, after, out of respect and reverence, they requested permission from the prelate of the place. (Jacques de Vitry) – Life, whatever it is, is a test, and our reactions to its vicissitudes mark the path to our future, whatever again that may be.

23

He (Pope Innocent III) granted what was asked and promised even more.  He approved the rule, gave them a mandate to preach penance, and had small tonsures given to all the lay brothers, who were accompanying the servant of God, so that they could freely preach the word of God (Major Legend,chpt.3) – The one redeeming trait of suffering is that it helps to bring out love.

24

The brothers must not have large churches built in order to preach to the people or for any other reason, for there is greater humility and better example when they go to other churches to preach.(Mirror of Perfection,chpt.1,#10) – God has come to do what he could not do in his heaven: to suffer with man.  The cross of Christ is the meeting point of suffering humanity.

25

On Sundays and Feast Days, they leave their small dwellings and go to preach the word of life in the parish churches. (Roger of Wendover) – The infiniteness of God in the concreteness of a man, a few years that span eternity, a limited presence that fills creation…is Jesus!

26

The prelates of the church saw these documents (Papal documents approving the Order and the brothers’ preaching) and having verified their authenticity, generously permitted the brothers to build, live and preach in their dioceses.(Three Companions) – If the Son of Man can make the Father present, so can we, in our smallness and poverty, reflect his glory till he comes.

27

He 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 of Perfection,chpt.3,#73) – We are signs in the Sign.

28

The blessed father knew through the Holy Spirit and even repeated it many times to the brothers, that many brothers, under pretext of edifying others, would abandon their vocation, that is, holy humility, pure simplicity, prayer, devotion, and our Lady Poverty…because they will think themselves to be more imbued and filled with devotion…and enlightened by knowledge of God because of their understanding of the Scriptures. (Mirror of Perfection,chpt..3,#72)  – Faith is the capacity to be disturbed, to let God into one’s life, to cope with the unusual and to be surprised into glory.

29

Saint Francis command(ed): I strictly command all my cleric and lay brothers, through obedience, not to place any gloss upon the Rule or upon these words … but as the Lord has given me … – Live like one about to die. (Murillo)

30

As Moses with God and God with him, so Saint Francis spoke with the Lord, and the Lord fully related to him future events, concerning not only the Order but also the whole Church until the end of the world. – One virtue that shines more brightly in the lives of the saints is the virtue of charity, i.e. unfeigned compassion for others in need.

31

(Saint Francis came from prayer upset and said to the brother): While I was at prayer, I begged the Lord for peace for the Christian people, because it was revealed to me that many trials would come upon the Christian people.  And so the Lord Jesus was kind enough to appear to me…- If you are honestly looking for Christ, you will find Him quickest and most often in His poor.

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