Monthly Meditation for August, 2020 by Father Francis Sariego, OFM Cap

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:

August 2020

Dear Sisters and Brothers in St. Francis,

The Lord give you his peace!

The Brothers and Sisters of Penance, Spiritual Children of our Seraphic Father St. Francis of Assisi, are called to live as the “Penitents of Assisi” in a world who “seeks a sign”. Just as in the days of Noah (cfr. Luke)…just as Jonah was in the belly of the whale (cfr. Matthew), as Jesus responded to those who sought a sign from Him, today’s society and world are looking for “a sign”. They forget or are unaware that the sign they seek is a person. Our Secular Franciscans have found that person in Jesus Christ. The life with which we Franciscans are entrusted to learn and live is found in the Gospels. The manner of life in the world and not of the world ( cfr. John 15 / John 17 et al.) we seek through the example and words of the Seraphic Patriarch of Assisi. This life can be effectively and joyfully lived by an enormous variety of personalities as we see in the lives of the multitude of Franciscan Saints and Blesseds officially recognized by the Church. Love for the Franciscan charism and a commitment to live in the spirit of St. Francis of Assisi and St. Clare of Assisi has also endeared thousands of others not “officially” recognized as “heroic” examples of virtue by the Church. Nevertheless, their hidden lives have impacted and helped men and women for eight centuries to make vital life-changing decisions in God’s way and will.

St. Francis of Assisi may be an attractive poetic character to some, but the man who accepted the challenge of the Gospel life has been a transforming influence for millions. Francis was simple in his approach, loving in his manner with the poor and suffering, unrelenting in his determination that God’s call to him and those who wished to follow must be lived “without gloss”. St. Francis was no ‘pushover’. He knew and believed in the original voice that said Francis, go rebuild my Church for as you see it is falling into ruin (voice from the Crucifix in San Damiano Church, Assisi).  He would not change what he knew and believed to be the will of God for him and for those who sought to follow his way of Gospel living.

The first members of the Secular Franciscan Order were practical people who continued living in the world with a commitment to the Gospel life in a spirit of simplicity, prayer, peace (disarmed hearts), fulfillment of their daily responsibilities, greater awareness-respect-commitment to God’s Word and Sacraments, love for the Church even at historically questionable times of schism, heresy, moral decadence. The brothers and sisters of Penance were challenged to grow in holiness. This was a holiness that did not strive to encourage them to be proud of their humble demeanor and/or self-righteous holy practices. Our brethren of the penitential life sought solely to become saints.  They knew as we know that holiness is not a question of the ‘popular thing to do’. It is not a question of being with the ‘in crowd’ of some church society.  Holiness does not call attention to us but to the Christ that shines through us. Sanctity is the consequence of a personal decision one makes to be fully directed by the Spirit of God through a process of daily conversion.

Unless our prayer is enfleshed in our lives, and our lives resound in our prayer, our spiritual life is stunted, if not altogether dead or in agony.  True holiness can never be achieved fully until we enter the everlasting embrace of the Eternal Father, through the blood of his Son Jesus, by the power of the Holy Spirit. Through our earthly journey we strive to grow each day in holiness and move forward toward the ultimate goal: God-Everlasting Life in His Love. The almighty intercession of Our Heavenly Mother, Mediatrix of All Graces, is the channel through which prayers and graces flow, as She accompanies Her children on this journey. The intercession of the saints, angels and souls in Purgatory to whom we pray also fulfill their role in the wholeness of our journey. The process is not impossible, nor is it difficult. Remember that the hand will never reach for what the heart does not desire. What we truly desire, we will seek to move heaven and the netherworld to obtain. But, it is demanding!  It demands that we desire this holiness, seeking spiritual wholeness, holistically. Following the prompting of the Holy Spirit and using the graces God entrusts to us, every bit of creation serves to strengthen the inner being that drives us to be in this world but not of this world ( cfr. John 15 / John 17 et al.) .

This month we celebrate the Transfiguration of Jesus (August 6) and the Assumption of Our Blessed Mother into heaven (August 15).  It is interesting to note that both deal with the divine and the human, the soul and the body, the invisible and the visible, the immortal and the mortal, the perfect and the flawed. One is seen as the fruit of the process of the other.  The Transfiguration that dazzles the apostles is the transformation of the body that the Apostles walked and talked with during their years with Jesus.  The Assumption of Mary’s physical body into the realm of the spirit is the celebration of the transformation of the material body of Mary that grew old and was subjected to life’s many changes into a fully glorified spiritual being.  No person can be truly holy without being truly human – human as God intended at the beginning of time and not as we have become through the abuse and misuse of our free will. These two feasts should be an encouragement for us to continue our endeavors to grow in the spirit, regardless of our weaknesses, faults, and even sins.  They should encourage us to strive more intensely to live the spirit of our Franciscan vocation every day of our lives. The monthly fraternity meeting is the fraternal gathering where family meets in love to be “energized” to live the family values with joy even beyond the formality of a meeting.

Vigilance over one’s self at all times, without scrupulosity or undue exaggeration, is essential. Nourished by the Eucharist as much as possible, we see ourselves and others with the eyes of Jesus. He speaks to our heart with compassion. He helps us to see the world with the practicality of one who lives, as mentioned before, in the world but not of the world. Our faith is simple and robust.  Yes, Lord, I do believe, therefore I give myself over to your Good News made flesh – Jesus – and seek to live and be the image of Jesus for others as well.

Our Franciscan brothers and sisters are men and women in love with Jesus and His Good News of God’s extravagant love for all of creation. St. Francis of Assisi gives us an example of what it means to be excited about every facet of life.  Through prayer, reflection, service, all Franciscans are assisted in experiencing God’s loving presence in their lives, and God’s loving presence in all creation as well as in all created human beings. Created things consecrated and transformed by the Holy Spirit into the image of Jesus in the world, love and devotion for Mary the Mother of Jesus overshadowed by the Holy Spirit to be the highest honor of our race and “almighty” intercessor for all before God, the faith of the Church of Christ subsisting in the Catholic Church, make us one family in God. Every gathering of the fraternity, formally or informally, should be an experience that fosters and enhances our love for one another and desire to bring that to others. The strength of our commitment to our particular expression of Franciscan life is rendered powerfully present wherever we are by the example of our love for one another, deep devotion in the practice of daily living our Catholic faith in the spirit of St. Francis of Assisi.  Secular Franciscans are an example of what the everyday Catholic can become. Find time each day to pray and reflect. Allow the experience of God to flow over from your personal lives into acts of charity and service for all. Let the hand of Christ reach out to fulfill the heart’s desire to be Christ to the other and to touch Christ in the other.

We Franciscans should glow like beacons of light in a world that has grown dim in its spiritual fervor!  We must not compromise our Baptismal promises or our Franciscan profession.  We are called to be examples and guides for others!  By living the evangelical life of a Penitent of Assisi we touch the lives of others and lead them closer to Jesus and Mary!  We are expected to take up the challenge to be Christ to the world!  This is our mission. As the “Penitents of Assisi” we know that “penance” is a change of heart that ultimately changes one’s life. This is the road of daily conversion, the road of holiness.

All of this may seem like much.  It may seem impossible.  It may seem unattainable.  If that were the case, then we would have to say that the Gospel is impossible to live. St Francis faced this predicament himself when he presented his original Rule of Life for the first followers to the Pope.  He was told it was impossible to live the Gospel as literally as he stated. A Cardinal of the Papal Court who was present at the event counseled the Pope that to say such a thing was to say living the Gospel is impossible. That would be blasphemy and heresy. Needless to say, Francis was given the permission he asked. All things are possible when we believe in God and trust in his grace that can transform those who place their lives in His hands. The God of surprises, is a God Who supports and provides for those who say “yes” even to the “impossible”. Our Heavenly Mother said “yes” to the impossible and just look at what happened!  Was it ever heard that God was so near to His people as our God is to us? (Exodus 33: 1-16 34: 8-10)   

We are called to continue the vocation St. Francis first received at San Damiano. All Franciscans enter the unique vocation, not of sacramental priesthood but of the priesthood of the faithful baptized in Christ. We are encouraged by the examples of an immense throng before us to become victims with the Victor. Christian Victimhood is a concretizing of the baptismal priesthood in Christ we have all received. When we consider the implications, “victimhood” is a word difficult to accept. It is even more difficult to want to accept this state as a vocation. Actually, it is the call of every baptized Christian to be Jesus in this world.  Jesus became a victim on the cross. We accept to be baptized in His baptism and drink the chalice He drank (cfr. Mark 10: 37-40). We accomplish this chiefly by living fully the responsibilities of our Christian Catholic Franciscan life. We even accept, if that be God’s will, the extraordinary “crucial” (cross-shaped) moments with serenity and trust. We need not create “our cross”, the one we would like. That would be a “cheap shot”, and rather cowardly. Believe that God in His love knows our strengths and will never give us anything that we cannot bear or will not be beneficial to us … and His glory?!  Accepting a share in the sufferings of Christ, we are given what God wills, and we have it made for eternity, forever!

We are incorporated into the Mystical Body of Christ. We share in the priesthood of the faithful. While the priest offers the bread that becomes the Body of the Savior, all can offer the daily responsibilities of life.  Our work, our relationships, our hopes, our dreams, all we are, created in God’s image, we offer each day.  While the priest offers the wine in the chalice that becomes the Blood of Christ, we can offer our sufferings, our fears, our hardships.  With the priest we offer not only the gifts he consecrates but the very gift of ourselves together with the Victim of Calvary re-presented at the altar of Sacrifice and the Table of the Lord.

At Baptism, in Christ we are anointed priest, prophet and king.  We too offer sacrifice; we too become a sacrifice; and we too share the benefits of that One Great Sacrifice offered once and forever. The Eucharist re-presents the mystery we share and seek to become. Sacrifice means to make sacred or to make holy. We are consecrated (made sacred with) in Jesus, as He Himself prayed the night before He died: Father, I pray for them…consecrate them in truth…who would be my disciple must follow in my footsteps. In the Eucharist we receive, we become a living sign of thanksgiving to God ever present among and within us. He is our Emmanuel (God with us).  It is a reminder of the Communion we share with all God’s children, beginning with our family in Christ and extending our disarmed hands and hearts out to the whole world.

As Mary called our Seraphic Father to the chapel of the Portiuincula (Feast August 2nd) to extend a special blessing and privilege to those who honor Her as our Lady of Angels, may Her love and blessings continue to flow to each one of us, Her Franciscan children. Like our most Blessed Mother, let us allow the Holy Spirit to overshadow us with His presence.  May that Holy Spirit enter the recesses of our hearts. Thus, the image of Christ can be born within us so that we can offer Him in and with our lives, as Mary did at Bethlehem, Nazareth, Capernaum,…CALVARY, to the whole world.  Like Mary, we are called to be Tabernacles and Monstrances of the one Saving Lord, Whose Holy Spirit has anointed us to continue the wonderful mystery of our salvation together with our priests in, with, and for the Church, the Mystical Body of Christ. We form that Body! The Mass is Christ; the Church is Christ; we are the Church, therefore, we must become the Mass we celebrate and offer our lives each day in union with the Sacrifice of Jesus, the Christ. This is the holistic means of human wholeness that leads to holiness in God’s loving grace.

May the Lord bless you and your loved ones; Our Lady guide, guard, and protect you; and our Seraphic Father St. Francis of Assisi with St. Clare of Assisi watch over each one of you and your loved ones, with loving care.

Peace and Blessings

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

Regional Spiritual Assistant

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