Thought for the Day - May, 2021 - Father Francis Sariego, OFM Cap

May 2021 

Hail, O Lady, holy Queen, you are the virgin made church 

and the one chosen by the most holy Father in heaven 

whom He consecrated with His most holy beloved Son 

and with the Holy Spirit the Paraclete, 

in whom there was and is all the fullness of grace and every good. 

Hail, His Palace! Hail, His, Tabernacle! Hail, His Home! 

Hail, His Robe! Hail, His Servant!  Hail, His Mother! 

And hail all you holy virtues which through the grace and light of the Holy Spirit 

are poured into the hearts of the faithful so that from 

their faithless state you may make them faithful to God. 

(Salutation of the Blessed Virgin)  

Daily excerpts from the Anonymous of Perugia 

Thought after each Franciscan excerpt from the Words of Ven. Fulton J. Sheen  

Chapter III 

THE FIRST PLACE WHERE THEY STAYED AND PERSECUTION BY THEIR RELATIVES 

1

Once Brother Bernard and Brother Peter sold their possessions and gave the money to the poor, as we mentioned, they dressed like the man of God, blessed Francis, and became his companions. 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 all lived together. – Without God people only succeed in bringing out the worst in one another.

2

After eight days a man from that city, Giles, came to them. He was a very dedicated and faithful man, on whom God bestowed many graces. On his knees, he begged blessed Francis with great devotion and reverence to accept him into his company. When he heard and saw this, Blessed Francis was filled with joy and received him enthusiastically with open arms. – Sometimes the only way the good Lord can get into some hearts is to break them.

3

Blessed Francis then took Brother Giles with himself to the Marches of Ancona, while the other two remained behind. As they were going along, they rejoiced not a little in the Lord. Francis, the man of God, reveled in a very loud voice, singing out in French, praising and blessing the Lord. Indeed they were filled with great joy, as if they had just acquired an immense treasure. – Criticism of others is thus an oblique form of self-commendation.

4

They were able to rejoice so much because they had forsaken so much, and considered as dung the things over which people usually grieve. They regarded as bitter what people of the world consider desirable, things that bring about much misery and grief. – If you don’t behave as you believe, you will end by believing as you behave.

5

Then blessed Francis told his companion, Brother Giles: “Our religion will be like a fisherman who casts his nets into the water, catching a great number of fish. Seeing the large number of fish, he puts the big ones in his baskets, leaving the small ones in the water.” Giles was astonished at the prophecy that the saint uttered, for he knew how few the brothers were. – When a man loves a woman, he has to become worthy of her. The higher her virtue, the more noble her character, the more devoted she is to truth, justice, goodness, the more a man has to aspire to be worthy of her. The history of civilization could actually be written in terms of the level of its women.

6

The man of God did not yet preach to the people. But while they were going through towns and villages, he would encourage men and women to fear and love the Creator of heaven and earth and to do penance for their sins. Brother Giles would respond: “What he says is very good. Believe him.” – Unless there is a Good Friday in your life, there can be no Easter Sunday. 

7

Those who heard them would say to each other: “Who are these men, and what are these words they’re saying?” Some of them used to say that they seemed to be fools or drunkards, while others would say: “The words coming out of their mouths are not those of fools.” One of them said: “Either they are clinging to the Lord for the sake of the highest perfection, or they have gone mad, for their physical life seems reckless. They walk barefoot, wear cheap clothing, and eat very little.” – There are not one hundred people in the United States who hate The Catholic Church, but there are millions who hate what they wrongly perceive the Catholic Church to be.

8

Yet there was no one who followed them at that time. Young women, seeing them at a distance, would run away fearing they would be taken in by foolishness. Even though hardly anyone followed them, people remained nevertheless in awe at the holy way of life with which they seemed to be marked for the Lord’s sake. After they had traveled around that province, the brothers returned to Saint Mary of the Portiuncula. – Far better it is for you to say: I am a sinner, than to say: I have no need of religion. (Rule, Constitutions, Church Law)

9

After a few days had elapsed, three other men from Assisi, Brother Sabbatino, Brother John and Brother Morico the Short, came to them, humbly begging Blessed Francis to admit them into his company. He received them kindly and eagerly. However, when they went about the city begging alms, scarcely anyone was willing to give to them; instead they would tell them: “You got rid of your own possessions, and now you want to eat those of others.” – Too many people get credit for being good, when they are only being passive.

10

Thus, 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. – You must remember to love people and use things, rather than to love things and use people.

11

One day when the blessed Francis had gone to that bishop, the bishop told him: “It seems to me that your life is very rough and hard, not having or possessing anything in this world.” The saint of God answered: “Lord, if we had any 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.” And this answer pleased the bishop. – Any book which inspires us to lead a better life is a good book. (Scriptures, Writings of Sts. Francis and Clare)

Chapter IV 

HOW HE ADMONISHED THE BROTHERS AND SENT THEM THROUGHOUT THE WORLD 

12

Saint Francis, since he was already filled with the grace of the Holy Spirit, predicted what would happen to his brothers. And calling together his six brothers in the woods next to the church of Saint Mary of the Portiuncula where they often went to pray, he 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. – A teacher who cannot explain any abstract subject to a child does not himself thoroughly understand his subject; if he does not attempt to break down his knowledge to fit the child’s mind, he does not understand teaching. (our Franciscan charism)

13

Therefore, 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.” 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, how should we preach?’ – America, it is said, is suffering from intolerance — it is not. It is suffering from tolerance. Tolerance of right and wrong, truth and error, virtue and evil, Christ and chaos. (Faithfulness to Profession of Rule and Constitutions!)

14

But be mindful of the Lord’s words to his disciples: ‘You yourselves will not be the speakers; the Spirit of your Father will be speaking in you.’ For the Lord Himself will give you spirit and wisdom to encourage and preach to men and their wives the way and deeds of the commandments. – Never forget that there are only two philosophies to rule your life: the one of the cross, which starts with the fast and ends with the feast. The other of Satan, which starts with the feast and ends with the headache.

15

You will find, however, faithful people—meek, humble and kind—who will receive you and your words with joy and love. You will find others—unfaithful, proud, and blasphemous—resisting and criticizing you and your words. Therefore, resolve in your hearts to bear all these things with patience and humility.” When the brothers heard these words, they were afraid. – We get angry when someone denies their faults, because we knew them all along. The lying mocks our affection; it is the deceit that angers us more than the faults. (paraphrase)

16

Realizing that they were frightened, he told them: “Do not be frightened. Keep in mind that within a short time many learned, prudent and noble men will be with us. They will preach to nations and peoples, to kings and princes, and many people will be converted to the Lord. And the Lord will make His family grow and increase throughout the entire world.” After saying this, Francis blessed them and they went on their way. – Once you have surrendered yourself, you make yourself receptive.

Chapter V 

THE PERSECUTIONS WHICH THE BROTHERS ENDURED  

AS THEY WENT THROUGHOUT THE WORLD 

17

Wherever these devout servants of the Lord walked along and came upon a church, whether in use or abandoned, or upon some cross alongside the road, they would pray devoutly: “We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you, and in all your churches throughout the whole world, because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.” – When a child is given to his parents, a crown is made for that child in Heaven, and woe to the parents who raise a child without consciousness of that eternal crown! 

18

And they believed and felt that they had found a place of the Lord. Those who saw them were amazed: “We have never seen religious dressed like this.” They seemed to differ from all others by their habit and lifestyle, like wild men. – We become like that which we love.

19

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, to remember His commandments that they had forgotten, and to strive to fulfill them. – Show me your hands. Do they have scars from giving? Show me your feet. Are they wounded in service? Show me your heart. Have you left a place for divine love?

20

Some people willingly and joyfully listened to the brothers; others, however, jeered at them. Many people repeatedly questioned them, and it was extremely wearisome to answer so many questions because new situations often gave rise to new questions. – Nothing ever happens in the world that does not happen first inside human hearts.

21

Some asked them: “Where do you come from?” While others asked: “To which Order do you belong?” They answered simply: “We are penitents and were born in Assisi.” At that time the religion of the brothers was not yet called an order. – Very few people believe in the devil these days, which suits the devil very well. He is always helping to circulate the news of his own death.

22

Many who saw and heard them considered them impostors or fools. Someone among them remarked: “I wouldn’t care to invite them into my house; they would probably steal my belongings.” And because of this, any number of insults were inflicted on them in many places. Therefore they very frequently sought lodging in the porticos of churches or houses. – The essence of God is existence, and He defines Himself as: ‘I am Who am.

23

About this time two brothers were in the city of Florence, going throughout the city in search of a place to stay, but were unable to find any. When they found a house with a portico containing a bread-oven, they said to each other: “We can stay here.” They therefore asked the lady of the house if she would please welcome them into her home. When she instantly refused, they begged her at least to let them spend that night near the oven. – Why are those who are notoriously undisciplined and unmoral also most contemptuous of religion and morality? They are trying to solace their own unhappy lives by pulling the happy down to their own abysmal depths.

24

She let them do this. However, when her husband came home, and saw the brothers on the porch near the oven, he said to her: “Why did you offer lodging to these two rogues?” She answered: “I didn’t want to offer them hospitality in the house, but gave them permission to stay on the porch where they couldn’t steal anything from us except the firewood.” On account of this distrust, they did not want to give the brothers anything to cover themselves, although the weather was severely cold. –  The refusal to take sides on great moral issues is itself a decision. It is a silent acquiescence to evil. 

25

During that night the brothers got up for matins and went to the nearest church. When morning came, the lady went to church to hear Mass and saw them remaining devoutly and humbly in prayer. She said to herself: “If these men were evildoers, as my husband claimed, they would not be praying so reverently.” – The Tragedy of our time is that those who still believe in honesty lack fire and conviction, while those who believe in dishonesty are full of passionate conviction. 

26

While she was thinking these things, a man named Guido was going around the church distributing alms to the poor. When he approached the brothers, he attempted to give each one a coin, as he had done to the others, but they refused to take it. He told them: “Why don’t you accept coins like the other poor people, for I see that you are just as poor and needy?” – Books are the most wonderful friends in the world. When you meet them and pick them up, they are always ready to give you a few ideas. (Spiritual Reading)

27

One of them, Bernard, answered him: “While it is true that we are poor, our poverty is not as burdensome for us as it is for the other poor, for we have become poor by the grace of God and in fulfillment of His counsel.” – Patience is power. Patience is not an absence of action; rather it is “timing” it waits on the right time to act, for the right principles and in the right way.” – We think we make the picture hang straight on our wall by telling our neighbors that all his pictures are crooked.

28

Astonished, the man asked them if they had ever possessed anything in the world. They told him that they in fact had, but for the love of God had given their belongings to the poor. When that woman considered that the brothers had refused the coins, she approached them and said: “Christians, if you want to come back to my hospitality, I will gladly receive you into my home.” – They are too often praised for being broadminded when they are so broadminded they can never make up their minds about anything.

29

The brothers answered her with humility: “May the Lord reward you.” When that man realized that the brothers were unable to find lodging, he took them to his own house and told them: “Look, this is the lodging that the Lord has prepared for you. Stay here as long as you want.” – In receiving from God, you are perfected and completed.

30

The brothers thanked God for showing them His mercy and for hearing the cries of the poor. They stayed with him several days. Because of their words and good example, he was afterwards very generous to the poor. – If we love what is base, we become base; but if we love what is noble, we become noble.” 

31

Although they were treated by this man with kindness, others considered them good-for-nothings, so much so that many, the small and the great, treated them and spoke to them “as masters with their servants.” Although the brothers wore the poorest and cheapest clothes, for amusement many people still took these away from them. And so, even though they were left naked, for they had only one tunic, the brothers nevertheless always observed the form of the Gospel by not demanding back what was taken from them. However, if motivated by piety, the people returned the tunic, they willingly accepted it – Lovers who have nothing else to do but love each other soon find there is nothing else. Without a central loyalty (GOD) life is unfinished.

 

 

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