Reflections from Father Francis Sariego, OFM Cap. July 2018

July 2018

All-powerful, most holy, Almighty and supreme God,
Holy and just Father, Lord King of heaven and earth,
we thank You for Yourself, for through Your holy will
and through Your only Son with the holy Spirit,
You have created everything spiritual and corporal
… making us in Your own image and likeness,…

We thank You…

Following are excerpts taken from various sources


Servants of the Lord should not be ignorant of the lives and teachings of saints through which they can come to God. (Prologue) – When you come to Christ, Christianity demands the personal, intimate bond.  We have to be one with him, and reflect the person, mind, will, heart and humanity of Christ.


On the 16th of April, after 1207 years completed since the Incarnation of the Lord … God saw that His people … had forgotten His commandments … desiring not the death of the sinner, but that he be converted and live… God willed to send workers into His vineyard. (chpt.1) – Faith is not the will to believe; it is the acceptance of truth based on the authority of God’ revelation.


Preoccupied with thoughts of wealth … Francis sent (a beggar away) without giving him alms … touched by divine grace, he began to accuse himself. (chpt.1) –Reconciliation is inseparable from the death of Christ. We never have reconciliation without the passion, death, and resurrection of our Lord.


(After sending the poor man away, Francis thought): If the poor man had asked in the name of a count or a powerful baron, you would have granted him his request.  How much more should you have done this for the King of  kings and the lord of all? (chpt.1) – Because of sin we all need a fresh start.


He resolved in his heart, from then on, never to refuse a request from anyone asking in the name of so great a Lord. He called the poor man back and gave him generous alms. (chpt. 1) – Let there be less of me and more of Christ.


He arrived in Spoleto … half  asleep, he heard a voice asking him …Who can do more for you, the lord or the servant? The lord, he answered. Then why are you abandoning the lord for the servant, and the patron for the client? (chpt.1) – The more ego there is, the less there is of Christ.


Francis sold the horse … as well as the wardrobe … and put on cheaper clothing … he approached a church … he threw the money on the windowsill of that church for he considered it worthless. (chpt.1) – The more we are Christ, the more he can use us.


Without any worldly possessions, dressed in cheap and very miserable clothing … The Lord enriched the poor and contemptible man. Filling him with His Holy Spirit, He put into his mouth the words of life … (chpt.1) – Christ does not open doors and give us opportunities, until we are flexible in his hands, obedient like a pencil in his hands.


(The Lord) put into his mouth words of life that he might preach and announce to the people judgment and mercy, punishment and glory and to recall to their minds the commandments of God they had forgotten. (chpt.1) – Nothing in all the world is worth a moment of time except to know more of him.


Desiring to possess neither gold nor silver, nor money nor any other thing, he followed the lord in humility, poverty, and the simplicity of his heart. (chpt.1) –Christ wants us to be available so that he can display his power through us, his truth through us.


Almost everyone considered him mad. But he did not care, nor did he answer them. He strove with all eagerness to fulfill the task God had shown him. (chpt.1)  –The Christian is another Jesus.


He walked not in the learned words of human wisdom, but in the display and power of the Spirit. (chpt.1) – When Christ becomes the rule of life, then his life becomes ours.


Two men of Assisi inspired by divine grace, humbly approached him…We wish to live with you from now on … Tell us, therefore, what we should do … (Francis) answered them kindly: Let us go and seek counsel from the Lord.  (chpt.2) – Conscience can never be covered up; guilt will always come out.


They fell on their knees and humbly prayed: Lord, God, Father of glory, we beg you in your mercy, show us what we are to do … They immediately found the passage: If you wish to be perfect, go, sell everything you possess and give to the poor, and you will have a treasure in heaven. (chpt.2) – Conscience bothers us when it is not where it is supposed to be


Having no place to stay, they went and found a poor and nearly abandoned church called Saint Mary of the Portiuncula,.  There they built a small dwelling where they lived together. (chpt.3) – Every atheist is afraid of the dark. You don’t find atheists in foxholes.


They were filled with a great joy, as if they had acquired an immense treasure.  They were able to rejoice so much because they had forsaken so much, and considered as dung the things over which people usually grieve. (chpt.3) – It is not man who is on the quest for God.  It is God who is on the quest for man


The man of God … would encourage men and women to fear and love the Creator of heaven and earth and to do penance for their sins. (chpt.3) – We need to fall in love with the Lord.


Even though hardly anyone followed them, people remained nevertheless in awe at the holy way of life which they seemed to be marked for the Lord’s sake. (chpt.3)  – When we love the Lord, we want to be one with him.  That is love’s first effect.


They suffered extreme want.  Even their relatives and families would persecute them.  Others from that city – great and small, men and women – would scorn and ridicule them as senseless and stupid, except for the city’s bishop to whom the blessed Francis frequently went to seek counsel. (chpt.3)  – In prayer we shrug off the burdens of the world.


One day … the bishop told (Francis): It seems to me that your life is very rough and hard … The saint of God answered: Lord, if we had possessions, we would need arms to protect them because they cause many disputes and lawsuits,.  And possessions usually impede the love of God and neighbor. Therefore, we do not want to possess anything in this world. (chpt.3) – There will be a shrinking from the blessed  sacrament whenever there is not a good spiritual attitude in the soul.


Calling together his six brothers in the woods next to Saint Mary of the Portiuncula … (Francis) told them: My dear brothers, let us consider our calling because God has mercifully called us not only for our own good but also for the salvation of many… (chpt.4) – When we are used to seeing his divinity through the species of bread, then we will be better at seeing the image of God in people.


(Francis told his brothers) Let us go through the world encouraging and teaching men and women by word and example to do penance for their sins and to remember the Lord’s commandments, which they have forgotten for such a long time … (chpt.4) – God does not abandon us; he makes us according to his liking, whatever it happens to be. We are not abandoned.


He also told them: Do not be afraid, little flock, but have confidence in the Lord.  And do not say among yourselves ‘We are simple and illiterate men …’ But be mindful of the Lord’s words to his disciples: ‘You yourselves will not be the speakers; the Spirit of your Father will speaking in you’. (chpt.4) – The world we live in is the battleground of the church.


These devout servants of the Lord … seemed to differ from all others … When they entered a city, town or a home, they would announce peace.  Whenever they saw men or women on the streets or in the piazzas … they would encourage them to fear and love the Creator of heaven and earth … (chpt.4) – We live in a world that challenges us. Our summons is to resist the current that carries so many downstream.


Some asked them: Where do you come from?  While others asked: To which Order do you belong? They answered simply: We are penitents and we were born in Assisi. (chpt.5) – As with Gideon, God is thinning our ranks now as then, because we are preparing for a stronger and more holy church.


(The brothers) suffered all these things with constancy and patience …When people saw them rejoicing in their tribulations and enduring them patiently for the Lord, unceasing in very devout prayer, neither accepting nor carrying money…possessing such a great love for one another … many of them, by the kindness of the Lord, experienced a change of heart. (chpt.5) – The Holy Spirit always works through minorities, never through majorities.


They were rooted and founded in love and humility … They all dedicated themselves wholeheartedly to obedience … They abstained from carnal desires and, in order to avoid being judged, they judged themselves carefully … They sought to combat each vice with a corresponding virtue. (chpt.6) – We draw strength from our suffering sisters and brothers.


(Francis) used to revere prelates and priests of the holy Church.  He would respect the elderly, and honored the noble and the wealthy.  He loved the poor intimately and showed compassion to them.  In a word, he showed himself to be subject to all. (chpt.8) – We must realize in minds and hearts that the only argument left to convince others is holiness.


If any brother … experienced … some kind of trial, the temptation would go away either on hearing blessed Francis … or on seeing his presence.  For he spoke to them compassionately, not as a judge, but as a father to his children and a doctor to his patient … (chpt.8) – The world has heard every other argument, and it is ready to reject them all, all except one: holiness.


He carried God in his heart, praised Him with his lips, and glorified Him with his deeds … Wanting to show the love He had for him, the Lord impressed on his members and his side the stigmata of His most beloved Son … (chpt.12) – Does the crucifix mean anything to us? Or do we look for Christ without the cross?


Meditate earnestly on the things recorded … understand them correctly, and strive in deed to fulfill them, so we may deserve to share with them in the glory of heaven. May our Lord Jesus Christ lead us to this glory. (chpt.12) – Drawing closer to the light of Christ, our fears are gone, remorse is swallowed up in the intense love of Christ.


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