Thoughts for the Day – March 2021 – Father Francis Sariego, OFM Cap

March 2021 

Wherever we are, in every place, at every hour, at every time of the day, every day and continually, 

let all of us truly and humbly believe, hold in our heart and love, honor, adore, serve, 

praise and bless, glorify and exalt, magnify and give thanks 

to the Most High and Supreme Eternal God, Trinity and Unity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, 

Creator of all, Savior of all who believe and hope in Him, and love Him, Who, 

without beginning and end, is unchangeable, invisible, indescribable, ineffable, 

incomprehensible, unfathomable, blessed, praiseworthy, glorious, exalted, 

sublime, most high, gentle, lovable, delightful, and totally desirable above all else for ever. 


(Prayer of Saint Francis taken from the Earlier Rule, chapter 23)


Month of Saint Joseph completes Holy Season of Lent. 

Let us invoke the patronage of St. Joseph to guide us on our journey. 

Chapter XIV 




After blessed Francis had obtained that place of Saint Mary from the abbot of Saint Benedict, he ordered that a chapter be held there twice a year, that is, on Pentecost and on the Dedication of Saint Michael. At Pentecost, all the brothers used to gather at the church of Saint Mary and discuss how they could better observe the Rule. – Remember that Calvary is the hill of the saints. 


They appointed brothers throughout the various provinces who would preach to the people, and assigned other brothers in their provinces. Saint Francis, however, used to give admonitions, corrections, and directives as it seemed to him to be according to the Lord’s counsel. Everything that he said to them in word, however, he would show them in deed with eagerness and affection. – Suffering is short-lived but the reward is eternal.


He used to revere prelates and priests of the holy Church, and honored the elderly, the noble, and the wealthy. Moreover, he intimately loved the poor, suffering deeply with them, and he showed himself subject to all. Although he was more elevated than all the brothers, he still appointed one of the brothers staying with him as his guardian and master. – Heaven and earth will pass away but the word of God assures that all who live in His will,  will sing victory.


He humbly and eagerly obeyed him, in order to avoid any occasion of pride. He zealously used to admonish the brothers to observe the holy Gospel and the Rule which they had firmly promised; and particularly to be reverent and devoted about divine services and ecclesiastical regulations, hearing Mass devotedly, and adoring the Body of the Lord even more devotedly.- May Jesus be your comfort and compensation in this life.


He wanted priests who handle the tremendous and greatest sacraments to be honored uniquely by the brothers. He also admonished the brothers not to judge anyone, nor to look down upon those who live with refinement and dress extravagantly or fashionably. For, he would say, their God is ours, the Lord Who is capable of calling them to Himself and justifying those called. – That Jesus never leaves us even for a moment should bring the greatest consolation.


He also used to tell them he wanted the brothers to show reverence to these people as their brothers and lords. They are brothers, because we were all created by one Creator; they are lords, because they help the good to do penance by providing them with the necessities of life. He added: “The brothers’ way of life among the people should be such that whoever hears or sees them glorifies and praises the heavenly Father with dedication.” – Live joyfully and courageously and don’t extinguish the Spirit of the Lord in you.


For his great desire was that he, as well as his brothers, would abound in such good deeds for which the Lord would be praised. He used to tell them: “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. In fact, many who seem to us to be members of the devil will yet be disciples of Christ.” – Let us do good while we still have time.


Moreover, the pious father used to reprove his brothers who to him were too austere, exerting too much effort in those vigils, fasts and corporal punishments. Some of them afflicted themselves so harshly to repress within them every impulse of the flesh,  that they seemed to hate themselves. The man of God forbade them, admonishing them with kindness, reprimanding them with reason, and binding up their wounds with the bandages of wholesome precepts. – Sanctify yourself and give good example to others.


Among the brothers who had come to the chapter, no one dared to discuss worldly matters, but they spoke of the lives of the holy fathers, and how they could better and more perfectly find the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. If some of the brothers who came to the chapter experienced any temptation or tribulation, upon hearing blessed Francis speaking so sweetly and fervently, and on seeing his penance, they were freed from their temptations and were miraculously relieved of the tribulations. – We don’t reach salvation without crossing the stormy sea.


For, while suffering with them, he spoke to them, not as a judge, but as a merciful father to his children, or a good doctor to the sick, knowing how to be sick with the sick and afflicted with the afflicted. Nevertheless he duly rebuked all delinquents, and restrained the obstinate and rebellious with an appropriate punishment. – Beneath the cross one learns to love.


When a chapter had ended, he would bless all the brothers and assign each of them to individual provinces. To anyone possessing the Spirit of God and eloquence suitable for preaching, whether cleric or lay, he gave permission to preach. When those men received his blessing with great joy of spirit, they went throughout the world as pilgrims and strangers, taking nothing on their way except the books in which they could say their Hours. –  The best way to avoid falling is to lean on the cross of Jesus.


Whenever they found a priest, rich or poor, good or bad, bowing humbly they paid him their respect. When it was time to seek lodging, they more willingly stayed with priests rather than with seculars. When they were unable to stay with priests, they would seek more spiritual and God-fearing persons with whom they could more suitably be welcomed. After this, in each city and town that the brothers wanted to visit, the Lord inspired some God-fearing people to offer them hospitality, until some places were built for them in cities and towns. – The Lord loads us and sets us free from our load.


The Lord gave them the word and the spirit, according to need of the time, to speak with most incisive words, penetrating the hearts of the young—as well as the elderly—who, abandoning fathers and mothers and all they had, followed the brothers, by putting on the habit of religion. Then, indeed, a sword of separation was sent to the earth, when the young came to religion. – By bearing the weight of the cross we are relieved of it.


Those whom they received to the Order they led to blessed Francis,  that they might receive from him the habit of religion with humility and dedication. Not only were men converted to the Order; but also many virgins and widows, struck by their preaching, on their advice secluded themselves in cities and towns in monasteries established for doing penance. – Convince yourself that you belong to Jesus 


One of the brothers was appointed their visitator and corrector. Similarly, both married men and women given in marriage, unable to separate because of the law of matrimony, committed themselves to more severe penance in their own homes on the wholesome advice of the brothers. And thus, through blessed Francis, a perfect worshipper of the Holy Trinity, the Church of God was renewed in three orders, just as the earlier repair of the three churches foreshadowed. Each one of these orders was in its time approved by the Supreme Pontiff. –  Belong to Jesus and any storm satan blows against you cannot harm you at all.

Chapter XV 






The venerable father, the Lord Cardinal John of Saint Paul, that cardinal who more frequently offered counsel and protection to blessed Francis, commended the life and accomplishments of the saint and his brothers to the other cardinals. Their minds were moved to love the man of God with his brothers, so that each one of them wanted to have brothers in his own household, not for any service they might provide, but because of their holiness and the dedication with which they burned for them. – Trust in God and don’t fear the storms because your spirit will never be submerged.


After the Lord Cardinal John of Saint Paul had died, the Lord inspired one of the cardinals, Hugolino, at that time the bishop of Ostia, to cherish, protect, and support Francis and his brothers. With burning intensity, he held them in awe as if he were the father of them all. What is more, more than the love of a carnal father reaching out naturally to his own sons, the love of this man overflowed spiritually on the man of God and his brothers, loving and supporting them in the Lord. – Jesus is more powerful than all of hell. 


The man of God heard of this man’s glorious reputation, for among the cardinals he was famous, and with his brothers approached him. Receiving them with joy, he told them: “I am offering you myself for advice, assistance and protection, ready to give myself according to your good pleasure. I only ask that, for God’s sake, you have me remembered in your prayers.” Then blessed Francis, thanking God, told that lord cardinal: “My lord, I gladly want to have you as the father and protector of our religion, and I want all my brothers to have you always remembered in their prayers.” – This present life is given to us to acquire the eternal. 


Then blessed Francis asked him to be present at the chapter of the brothers at Pentecost. He immediately agreed graciously, and, from then on, was present every year at their chapter. When he came to the chapter, all the brothers who had gathered at the chapter would go in procession to meet him. As they were approaching, he would dismount from his horse and go on foot with them to the church of Saint Mary. Afterward he preached to them and celebrated Mass, during which the man of God, Francis, would chant the Gospel. – It is God who calls us to himself and it is he who watches our journey. 

Chapter XVI 




Eleven years after the founding of the religion when the brothers had increased in number and merit, ministers were chosen and sent with some of the brothers throughout nearly the entire world in which the Catholic faith was practiced and observed. They were received in some of the provinces, but were not permitted to build houses. On the other hand, they were expelled from others for fear they might be non-believers, because, although the Lord Pope Innocent III had approved the Order and the Rule, nonetheless, he did not confirm this by letter, and the brothers, therefore, suffered many adversities from clerics and lay people. – God will never permit anything to happen to us that is not for our greater good. 


When this had been made known to the Lord Cardinal, he called blessed Francis to him and took him to the Lord Pope Honorius. He had another rule—composed by blessed Francis as he was taught by Christ—confirmed by the same Lord Honorius with a seal solemnly affixed. In this rule, the time between the chapters was prolonged to avoid hardship for the brothers living in remote areas. – Don’t philosophize on your defects.


Blessed Francis proposed to ask the Lord Pope Honorius, therefore, that one of the cardinals of the Roman Church be a sort of pope of his Order, that is, the Lord of Ostia, to whom the brothers could have recourse in their dealings. For blessed Francis had had a vision which led him to ask for the cardinal, and to entrust the Order to the Roman Church. – Don’t let little imperfections discourage you.


He saw a hen that was small and black, with feathered legs and the feet of a domestic dove. It had so many chicks that it was unable to gather them all under its wings, and so they wandered all around her in circles. Waking from sleep, he began to think about this vision and, immediately, he perceived by means of the Holy Spirit that that hen symbolized him. – Try to be always watchful in order to avoid sin.


“I am that hen,” he said, “short in stature, and dark by nature. I must be simple like a dove, flying up to heaven with the feathered strokes of virtue. The Lord in his mercy has given, and will give me, many sons whom I will be unable to protect with my own strength. I must, therefore, commend them to the holy Church who will protect and guide them under the shadow of her wings.” – When you see you fail in some way, don’t become lost in useless complaining


A few years after this vision, he came to Rome and visited the Lord of Ostia who obliged blessed Francis to go with him to the Curia the following morning. He wanted him to preach before the Lord Pope and the cardinals, and to commend his religion to them with devotion and eagerness. Although blessed Francis excused himself, claiming he was simple and stupid, he nevertheless had to accompany that man to the Curia. – Be embarrassed at your moments of infidelity, and humbly ask pardon of the Lord.


When blessed Francis presented himself before the Lord Pope and the cardinals, they saw him with boundless joy. Getting up, he preached to them, prepared only by the Holy Spirit’s anointing. After he finished speaking, he commended his religion to the Lord Pope and to all the cardinals. The Lord Pope and lord cardinals had been greatly edified by his preaching, and their hearts were moved to a more burning love of the religion. – When you fall, propose to be more watchful and then get up immediately and carry on.


Afterwards blessed Francis told the Supreme Pontiff: “Lord, I am suffering with you over the worry and continuing labor with which you must watch over God’s Church, and I am greatly ashamed that you must have such solicitude and care for us lesser brothers. For, since many nobles, rich people, as well as many religious, are unable to come to you, we, who are surely poor and looked down upon by some religious, must have great fear and shame not only to have access to you, but even to stand at your door and to presume to knock at the tabernacle of Christian virtue. – Walk with simplicity in the ways of the Lord.


Therefore, I humbly and resolutely beg your Holiness to give us the Lord of Ostia as pope, so that, at a time of need, the brothers may have recourse to him, always saving your pre-eminent dignity.” The Lord Pope was pleased with the petition, and he granted blessed Francis that Lord of Ostia, appointing him a most fitting protector of his religion. With the mandate of the Lord Pope, as a good protector, he extended his influence to protect the brothers, writing to many prelates who were persecuting the brothers. He did this so that they would no longer oppose them, but would rather give them advice and assistance in preaching and living in their provinces, as good and holy religious approved by the authority of the Apostolic See. – Hate your faults, but with a quiet hate, not troublesome and restless. 


Many other cardinals likewise sent their own letters for the same reason. In the following chapter, after blessed Francis gave the ministers permission to receive brothers into the Order, he sent them to those provinces, carrying the letters of the cardinals as well as the Rule confirmed by the apostolic seal. Once the prelates saw all of these, and recognized the endorsements shown by the brothers, they permitted the brothers to build, live, and preach in their provinces. And after the brothers lived and preached in this way in those provinces, many people, seeing their humble and holy way of life, and hearing their very pleasant words, moving and inflaming minds to love of God and to doing penance, they came to them and humbly accepted the habit of holy religion. –  Walk with simplicity in the ways of the Lord and do not torment your spirit.


Seeing the trust and love that the Lord of Ostia had for the brothers, blessed Francis loved him most affectionately from the depths of his heart. And because he knew, through an earlier revelation of God, that he would be the future Supreme Pontiff, he predicted this in the letters he wrote to him, calling him the father of the whole world. For he wrote to him in this manner: “To the venerable father of the whole world in Christ …” – Be patient with your faults and gain from them through holy humility.


Shortly afterwards, after the death of the Lord Pope Honorius III, that Lord of Ostia was elected the Supreme Pontiff, named Pope Gregory IX, who, until the end of his life was a remarkable benefactor and protector of the brothers as well as of other religious, and above all, of Christ’s poor. For this reason, he is believed to be numbered deservedly in the gathering of the saints.- How can anyone be anything but happy and at peace when Jesus is with them? 


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