Monthly Meditation by Father Francis Sariego, OFM Cap – September 2020

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      regional website: skdsfo       email:

September 2020

Dear Sisters and Brothers in St. Francis,

The Lord bless you with His peace!

The Fathers of the Church maintained that human beings stand at the point of intersection between two gravitational fields. First, there is the force of gravity which pulls us down – towards selfishness, falsehood and evil; the gravity which diminishes us and distances us from the heights of God.  On the other hand there is the gravitational force of Gods love: the fact that we are loved by God and respond in love attracts us upwards.  (We find ourselves) between this twofold gravitational force; everything depends on our escaping the gravitational field of evil and becoming free to be attracted completely by the gravitational force of God … (Pope Benedict XVI)

The more we respond to this force that attracts upward to God, the more we are encouraged to look up and beyond the things that so often easily attract and even seduce us here on earth.  We are human beings, created to live in and love God’s creation.  However, life here is a journey and not the end of all our desires.  When we build on the bridge, rather than cross over it, life becomes precarious and the thought of the future can be disconcerting and frightening. When we allow ourselves to be ‘grasped by God’, life changes immensely, though the circumstances we encounter may remain the same.  The more intimate and personal the experience we have, the less capable we are of expressing in words all that we feel.

Our Seraphic Father St. Francis not only had a profound relationship with God, but also received signs of God’s unbounded love and trust. The Poverello of Assisi emptied himself of all that could possess him. His response from the Eternal Love would be the image of the Crucified Lord he would bear the last two year of his life. He became a living image of the Crucified Savior, our Lord Jesus Christ. What can anyone say about such a powerful and awesome experience!  Not only to be in God’s presence, but to be physically signed as God’s Incarnate Son for all the world to see! What can we say? What embarrassment and humiliation he must have suffered in wanting to be devoid of everything, even human respect and recognition, and now becoming a spectacle for all the world to see this ’new and wonderful thing that has happened’.

We know that it was as he was celebrating the Lent of Saint Michael, that St. Francis was invaded by an absolute silence. It surrounded and enveloped him in this ‘Divine Presence’. Filled with wonder but peace at the same time, in a moment of total abandonment, he saw before him a mysterious person, adorned with the wings of the seraphs of whom the Prophet speaks in Scripture, whose hands and feet and side were dripping blood.  What Francis must have felt at that moment is indescribable for those of us who have not experienced this gift of God’s love. Such a sight, as the powerful presence of the Almighty in the Scriptures, would surely have taken the life of Francis, had he not been signed for a purpose requiring he remain for a short while longer among us. As the old prayer for the Feast of the Stigmata states: … when the world was growing cold you signed your servant Francis with the holy stigmata to re-kindle the fire of your love …  No doubt, as the vision disappeared, he became aware that his hands and feet and side were pierced and bleeding. Can we imagine the pain and agony that he must have felt every day bearing these wounds?  Yet, there was still a joy in his heart at the powerful confirmation of God’s love for him and all that he had been ready and willing to do in response to God’s original call at San Damiano. What was impressed in his heart at San Damiano was now impressed on his body for all to see at La Verna.

It would not be long before Our Seraphic Father would sing his own song of praise and thanksgiving for all the Lord had done for him and through his lowly servant.  Just as Jesus on the cross, St. Francis would offer his prayer of ’consummatum est’ to the Father and all the brothers.  He would let them know that he had done his part and now they must continue and do their part.  I have done what was mine to do.   Powerful words of acknowledgment and gratitude for a life fully lived for God and others.  Then he continues telling the brothers that you must do your part. Prophetic words that remind us all that we who have accepted the call to be Franciscans must continue to live the Spirit and Life we have professed.  It is not enough to know the life of St. Francis of Assisi, or be aware of his writings and the Spirit of the Order of which we are all gratefully brothers and sisters.

There is a story, that loses in the translation, that speaks of some rather cute but insignificant looking donkeys  who, to attract attention to them by the gypsies who use them because they are so small, are adorned with bells, colored ribbons, and so on. Some who profess our lives are like those donkeys, they need the frills to attract attention to themselves but refuse to let their lives be the attraction.  We pride ourselves on having a Founder who was stigmatized, but we are hesitant to bear the ’stigmata’ of our responsibilities and fidelity to the Word of God, the Church, the Rule, the Constitutions, our own local ministers in harmony with the Church and Order.  Some are running after everything that makes them ’feel’ good, rather than pray, reflect on, and live what they have professed to make them be good and become better, all the way to ’sainthood’.  We are all called to be saints.


It is not often that we are privileged to enter the heart of a saint.  It is not often that we are privileged to peer into the depths of a soul “inebriated” with the eternal.  We emulate the life we revere.  We are privileged to be made sharers in the gifts of that life ‑ gifts bestowed because of the love and willingness of that privileged soul to be a person for all people. Through Baptism, St. Francis, as well as we, became one with Jesus in the Spirit through the life of grace.  In his emptying of himself and discarding all that pertained to his former life in society before the Bishop and people of Assisi, the Poverello of Assisi became one with Christ in his detachment from the world and its “ego”, from its exclusive relationships and their confining demands, and from the material things and their possessive nature that keep one a slave to wants unfulfilled rather than encourage gratitude for gifts received. In his service to the poor and the brothers and sisters, St. Francis became one with the Mediator between God and Humanity. His love for Christ, His Mother, and the Church overflowed into an evangelical ministry that touched the hearts and lives of many.

We too are offered similar privileges and responsibilities. Their effectiveness is determined by our conviction and commitment to surrender to the One Who calls us to such a privileged position.  We too share in the Baptismal character of all the faithful called to live the Gospel. We too are encouraged to live the spiritual detachment from the inflated ego, the unbridled passions of the senses and the slavery to material things.  We too are expected to share in the priesthood of the faithful when, together with those ordained to the ministerial priesthood, we offer the perfect sacrifice that re‑presents the one sacrifice of Jesus.  We experience the effects of this sacrifice according to the intensity with which we surrender ourselves to the urging of the Spirit and the work of grace in our life.

The impression of the Stigmata on the body of our Seraphic Father St. Francis of Assisi is a personal, intimate and uniting experience.  The “mysterious person” took St. Francis through the mystical-mysterious experiences of his life of prayer and contemplation, and impressed on his body an image, enfleshed for the world to see, of the Savior’s eternal love for all humanity.  The outward signs of Jesus Crucified that St. Francis bore were a renewed reminder of God’s love for His creation, a creation that had grown cold in its love and trust in God.  The life of our “crucified” father, whose mere presence served as a sign of contradiction to the world, was a call for everyone to look beyond the self‑centeredness, violence, and materialism of those who so quickly relegate God to an outpost of the mind or who forget God altogether.  Humanity all too soon forgets its past experiences of infidelity and the consequences they have on a world that lives without God as its guiding presence.

The Stigmata of St. Francis of Assisi was accepted and recognized by the Church and by those lives transformed by God’s grace, God’s love and wonders did not cease to emanate from his very presence. He was like the bronze serpent Moses raised for the Israelites to look on ‑ lest they die ‑ and be healed of the venom of the serpents that had bitten them.  The venom of the Serpent that has bitten and poisoned so many of God’s elect down through the centuries continues its murderous mission as it seeks to infect the lives of good people who sincerely search for and desire the Lord in their lives.  When we look to the Crucified of Calvary we are saved. When we look to the Crucified of Assisi we are encouraged to look upon and believe in a God Who walks with us and works within us leading us beyond any poisonous seduction, allurement, or even compromise that would severely affect or even destroy our relationship with God. But, we must look upon him and believe.  We must look upon the Lord Crucified and believe in His power and presence to save.  We must look upon our Seraphic Father and remember the love he had for God and the love God had for him, and remember the love we had when we heard and accepted the call to be the sons and daughters of the Crucified of Assisi. We were called to follow his example of openness and faithfulness to God, God’s Word, His Church and our Franciscan Family; when any of these lack, we cannot call ourselves true Franciscans, and in some cases possibly not even true Catholics.

We talk about St.  Francis of Assisi, we reflect on his life and words at our meetings and Masses.  Do we emulate his life and teachings so that others see the values we preach lived in our own lives?  There is often a real lack of substance in our devotion to St. Francis, in fact, there are some who know the great mystics of other religious traditions and have not even opened a book to read St. Francis, St. Clare and the great mystics of our own Seraphic Family.  Often those in formation will not read the books offered for their knowledge, but are ready and willing to read other spiritual writers. Nevertheless, the question arises: if you want to be a Franciscan, but do not want to read or study our life as the Family of Francis and Clare, how much do you really want to be a Franciscan?  Oh, and by the way, we are a family. St. Francis tells the brothers in the Rule, and all his spiritual children: For if mother loves her child according to the flesh, how much more must we love one another according to the Spirit!  

 The highest praise is imitation!  Let us begin to recognize the holiness in our Franciscan Family and strive to live the Spirit and Life offered us.   Let us be authentic!  

As Spiritual Children of St. Francis of Assisi, we carry on the Christian’s mission to be Heralds of the Lord’s goodness to the world.  Our appreciation and devotion for the Poverello must inevitably lead us to emulate his virtues and to live the counsels he offered in his role as guide and father of our Franciscan Family.  He proclaimed God’s love to the world, and his lasting example challenges those who seek him out to live the values of prayer, sacrifice, reconciliation, reparation, charity and love that he expounded.  The Cross of Jesus made us one again in the Blood of the Savior; the wounds of our Seraphic Father challenge us to remember the Cross, our banner of salvation, and to live our life more deeply in the Father’s Will as did our Savior.

The month of September is imbued with the mystery of the Cross. May we, as Spiritual Children of St. Francis of Assisi, treasure the example and words of our Seraphic Father and Founder. May the image of the Crucified Savior become more alive and meaningful to us through the image of  his privileged servant, our Father, and not just at our official meetings or special gatherings.  May the Feast of the Sacred Stigmata Impressed on our Seraphic Father St. Francis of Assisi that we celebrate this month be a calming and reassuring reality for us to consider as we continue our earthly journey. May his words and example be indicators that help us find our way through the crossroads of life, especially when the choices offered are enticing, alluring, seductive, but we know them in faith to be deceiving and dangerous. May we rejoice in the Lord for the gift He gave the Church and the world in our Father St. Francis.

May God bless you; Our Lady guide, guard, and protect you; and our Seraphic Father St. Francis of Assisi watch over you, his Spiritual Children, with loving care.

Peace and Blessings,

Fr. Francis A. Sariego, O.F.M. Cap.

Regional Spiritual Assistant


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