Reflections from Father Sariego, OFM Cap - January 2018

St. Katherine Drexel Regional Fraternity

Regional Spiritual Assistant

St. Francis of Assisi Friary

1901 Prior Road

Wilmington, Delaware 19809

tel: (302) 798-1454      fax: (302) 798-3360      website:  skdsfo     email:

January 2018

Dear Sisters and Brothers in St. Francis,

The Lord give you His peace and blessings now and throughout the New Year!

The prophet, speaking in the name of God, says, My Word will not return without fulfilling the purpose for which It was sent.  From the very beginning of time, when the Almighty Creator and Father of all life brought out of nothing all that is and all that ever will be, there has been a yearning in creation for something, or better ‘Someone’.  This ‘hope’ that groans until now is our constant companion on life’s journey that urges us to move forward into God’s Providence.  We journey without knowing what the next moment will bring.  We journey, and we trust.  We trust because we believe.  We believe because our hearts have been touched at birth by the Spirit of God Who enables us to see signs of The One greater than all Who encourages us to know Him more deeply as we see Him in and through the many gifts of His Creation. We are the epitome of His creating love; and Jesus is the excellent and flawless example of His magnificent creation.

Jesus is the Word that the Father sent Who returned to the Father having fulfilled the purpose for His becoming one with humanity. We continue that ministry of fulfillment each time we re-present the Mystery and “miracle” of the Eucharist.  It is the same Holy Spirit of God that overshadowed the Blessed Virgin Mary, giving flesh to the almighty-eternal God within her immaculate womb that overshadows the bread and wine at the celebration of the Eucharist.  The “overshadowing” by the hands of the priest and power of the Holy Spirit and words of Consecration make Jesus the Christ real for us, not just in His Word, but in His Sacrament. This “Real Presence”, through the power of the Holy Spirit, urges us to enter the mystery more deeply and personal. We are called to acknowledge Jesus as Lord and Savior in Whose Name there is salvation. We courageously and unconditionally accept the mission “to be sent”, as was He, to be a living message of peace and blessings to all.  In Persona Christi the priest celebrant of the Eucharist is both Jesus the Master Who celebrates by virtue of his ordination, but also a disciple and apostle – as are all the faithful – who must listen to what he himself preaches and teaches, live the message he conveys in harmony with God’s Word, Church teaching and Tradition, and go among the People of God inviting all to receive the Good News in the Name of Jesus.

The Eucharist is not just a prayer but an experience of ‘at-one-ment’ with God through Jesus in the Spirit.  It is that Holy Action of the people – liturgy – into which we enter, often oblivious to the awesomeness of the moment and even to the Divine Presence before Whom we confect with the priest the Sacrifice and Sacrament of our Salvation in Jesus.  The Eucharist re- presents for us – subtly, succinctly, and soundly – all of Salvation History.  The Father’s Spirit and Word, present at the beginning of time and down through the millennia, are in the liturgy breathing life for those who are  participants, not merely spectators.  In the Eucharist, celebrant and people acknowledge their personal and collective sinfulness and need for a Savior.  Together they hear the words of ancient Israel in the Old Testament passages, the teachings of the Early Church, and the words and life of Jesus in the Gospels. All this preparation (Liturgy of the Word) takes time, valuable time needed to make us realize the awesome experience we are soon to witness and become (Liturgy of the Eucharist) . In this celebration the Spirit encourages us to consume the Victim – consummatum est – so that all can be fulfilled and we might share in the fruits of the ‘mission accomplished’ of the Lord.

Of His own free will and to the fullest extent the divine Word to descend to our level. Jesus hid His divine nature beneath the veil of human flesh.  In this way, says St. Paul, the Word of God humbled Himself to the point of emptying Himself: He emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant (Philippians 2:7).  Jesus was pleased to hide His divine nature so fully as to take on the likeness of man in everything, even exposing Himself to hunger, thirst and weariness and, to use the very words of the apostle of the nations: in every respect as we are, yet without sinning (Hebrews 4:1).  The climax of His humiliation was in His Passion and Death. He submitted His human will to the will of His Father, endured great moments and suffered the most infamous death, the death of the cross. The eternal Father, bestowed on Him the name which is above every name (Philippians2:9). It is by virtue of that name alone that we may hope to be saved. The most holy Name of Jesus that we venerate and repeat so often is a source of graces. As Jesus reminds us, we ask in His Name and the Father hears and answers. The Name of Jesus is terror to the demons. If His Name is so powerful, how much more must this very Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity be that we receive in the Eucharist?!

The Person of Jesus the Christ is present throughout the entire liturgy.  The priest, ‘in persona Christi’, leads, encourages, instructs, feeds, and commissions the People of God.  The humility of forgiveness given and accepted, teachings offered and received, nourishment prepared and shared, communion extended and embraced, empowerment instilled and undertaken, are all beautifully expressed in the Eucharist.  The Will of Christ is re-presented each time the words of Consecration are pronounced.  Jesus is the Eternal ‘Yes’ Who accepts for all humanity the office of Victim so that we can become victors with Him through the ‘at-one-ment’ that is reserved for all who journey with Him in Word, Sacrament and life.  The Power of the Name repeated and responded to with ‘Amen’ so often throughout the liturgy, gives all who call on the Name of Jesus power to live in His Name, to recognize His presence every moment, to be a powerhouse of grace and blessings for those whom we encounter, and to trustingly move forward in God’s Providence, His Holy Will, the innumerable graces, and the strength we receive from Jesus the Christ in the Eucharist we celebrate, share, and become.

As Spiritual of our Seraphic Father St. Francis of Assisi we cannot afford to begin a new year regretting the past or worrying about the future. We all look for opportunities to ‘clean the slate’ and ‘re-write’ our decisions to avoid past mistakes.  One thing we can do as we enter the New Year of Grace 2018 to learn from the past to grow in the good, and to correct what is not good by reconciling ourselves with God and one another, especially through the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  Where the future is concerned, since Jesus Himself reminds us that every hair on our head is counted and all the worry in the world cannot add or subtract one moment of the life entrusted to each one of us. For greater serenity and joy in 2018 we might remember the words of a great Capuchin Franciscan saint of the twentieth century, St. Pio of Pietrelcina: Pray, hope, and don’t worry.  All this can so easily be accomplished by remembering that in the Person of Christ we find the trust and courage to live in the Will of the Father and are Empowered in His Name to be an instrument of God’s life-giving Love.  The Eucharist reminds us, renews us within, and repeats for us the wonderful outpouring of His Spirit that will guide us throughout the New Year and for all our life.

Be happy!  God loves you!  Tell the whole world of His Love!  Don’t be afraid to be Catholic!   Help others see in the Eucharist the treasure that must still be discovered in all its richness by so many. Let us all share in the priesthood – ministerial priesthood and that of the laity – by ‘celebrating’ our ‘extension of the Mass’ in our daily lives. Make the Jesus you receive in Holy Communion be the Jesus others see in you – the Person in your compassion and understanding, the Will in your humility and acceptance of others, and the Power of the Name in your living without compromise the Catholic-Christian values we profess in a society that seeks to challenge ‘Christ’ in us and in the Church. Following the example of our Seraphic Father, let us disarm our hearts to all. Like the leper that St. Francis embraced, the one we deem unworthy of love (though that is making a judgment that is only God’s right) or whom we fear because unapproachable or worse, is the one who needs it the most.  When Jesus nourishes and nurtures us with Himself, like our Seraphic Father, we are released from the what has bound us and can move freely to embrace creation in the liturgy of life.  Every day thus becomes a day of rejoicing and growth.

May God bless you; Our Lady guide, guard, and protect you; and our Seraphic Father St. Francis of Assisi watch over all of us, his Spiritual Children, with loving care.   This is a wonderful year the Lord has granted us.   May the Prince of Peace reign in our hearts and homes! May we be Heralds of the Great King!

May the Lord bless you and keep you.

May the Lord show His face to you and be merciful to you.

May the Lord look on you with kindness and grant you His peace.

May the Lord live in you.

And may you always live in Him.


Holy and Happy New Year 2018!

Peace and Blessings

Fr. Francis A. Sariego, O.F.M. Cap.

Regional Spiritual Assistant

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