July Monthly Meditation 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: pppgusa@gmail.com 

July 2021 

Dear Sisters and Brothers in St. Francis, 

The Lord give you his peace! 

There is a practice which seems to have originated at the beginning of the first centuries of Christianity.  When a bishop who desired to express communion and solidarity with another bishop, he would break a particle of the Eucharist consecrated at the celebration over which he presided and send (“missa est” that is “it is sent”) that particle of the Eucharist to the other bishop.  The precious Consecrated Bread was placed together with the Consecrated Wine.  The Sacramental Signs of the Real Presence of the Body and Blood of Jesus, sharing in the common bond of faith in the Eucharistic re-presentation of the Paschal Mystery celebrated by the Church, was shared as the real and lasting intimacy of all the People of God forming the Mystical Body of Christ, in His Body and Blood. What a beautiful and powerful practice! 

It was called the gift of the “fermentum”. The word “fermentum” probably referred to the Eucharist as the “leaven” of the Christian life, and as the instrument by which Christians spread throughout the world were united in the one Body and Blood of Christ as a “leaven” in the world. The receiving bishop would then consume the particle sent to him during the next celebration of the Eucharist of which he presided, as a sign of the communion between the churches.  

It has been many centuries since this practice has unfortunately fallen out of practice. The sign of our unity is the Eucharist. The Divine Presence always among us encourages us, especially in the trying times, to share the “fermentum”. We believe in Jesus and His Promise fulfilled to remain with you always until the end of the age (Matthew 28: 20) in the Eucharist. We are bonded in His Body and Blood as a family in God. We are redeemed in the saving Body and Blood of Jesus offered once on Calvary and re-presented through the centuries in the celebration of the “Fractio Panis” (“Breaking of  Bread”). Through the Eucharist we become a “leaven” in the world. We become the living Mystical Body of Jesus. In the Eucharist we accept to be the bread broken and shared among ourselves as a communion in the Blood of Christ. 

In the common bond of our celebration, participation, and consumption of the Eucharist, we share the “fermentum” and become the “fermentum” of unity, peace, and concord with one another and all creation. The sharing, begun among ourselves, must inevitably prepare us to be kneaded into the daily Body of Christ among ourselves and in our world. We begin the process and slowly add the elements outside ourselves that they too may become the daily bread “overshadowed” by the Holy Spirit to become the mystical Bread of Life.  

The love and extreme devotion our Seraphic Father had for the Eucharist is undeniable. He emphasized the essential importance of the Eucharist in the life of the Lesser Brothers, the Penitents of Assisi. He wanted the friars to reserve, revere, and preserve anything that is part of or can be used for the Eucharistic Sacrament. This may seem at first sight to be an exaggerated eccentricity. No way! Our Seraphic Father had a profound awareness and love and devotion for the Sacrament of the Eucharist, as well as for those who “confected” the sacrament by their priestly ordination. Even the possible personal sinfulness of the priest did not keep St. Francis from kissing their hands in thanksgiving for their Eucharistic ministry. 

The Mystery of Christ’s Passion-Death-Resurrection is once again presented for our reflection during the month of July, traditionally dedicated to the honor of the Most Precious Blood of Jesus. That Blood, poured once for all to redeem humanity as was the blood of the spotless lambs poured out over and over again in ancient times for the People of Israel, urges our hearts to remember, celebrate and believe the Paschal Mystery that every person who bears the name of Christ is called to enter and live. 

The whole person of Jesus, as the Christ, Incarnate Son of God, is pledged to the mission of redemption entrusted to Him by the Father. His total surrender to the Father’s Will transforms the cross of hatred, into a sign of love, and the body of Christ dying in agony, into a sign of life. We live in times that seek the easy way out. We want to sidetrack the Cross, and still have life make sense and be fulfilling. It just does not happen that way for people of faith! 

World events alone, as well as events in our own neighborhoods and cities, all too often remind us of humanity’s inhumanity to its own kind. Our lives tell us that no one is totally free from difficulties, sufferings, tragedies, death. We encounter Christ and see His glorified wounds with the eyes of our hearts. We touch the wounds of His hands, feet and side, the immortal signs of His selfless love for us, in the daily experiences of life. It is becoming that “fermentum” we share as an effective remembrance of our unity in the Blood of Christ, that the secret of the Paschal Mystery’s life-giving grace becomes evident and effective in/with/for us.

The Savior’s Blood that flowed from the Cross is a sign of the totality of His selfless Sacrifice. Our Seraphic Father entered ever more deeply into this profound mystery so that what he prayed and reflected upon became impressed indelibly on his body. His “fermentum” in sharing physically as well as mystically in the Blood of Jesus reminded others of the totality of the selfless surrender he had made in response to the Father’s invitation to share in the Mystery of His Son. He invited others to share in this “leaven” of the Body and Blood of Christ. Sharing, others could become with him a united presence of Christ in the world. We Franciscans are invited, in fact called, to follow the example and share our hearts as “fermentum” with the uniting strength of our Gospel Fraternity.  

The world searches for meaning, direction and true fulfillment of its deepest desires. Like the belligerent adolescent who finally becomes a conscientious young adult, today’s society seems to be searching for those spiritual values that for so long were forgotten or ignored by many. Franciscans, by vocation to Gospel fraternity, are called to eliminate all that separates us from each other. We are called to heal the brokenness around and within us by becoming, one for the other, “wounded healers”. 

Life finds meaning in the Cross of Jesus. We realize that in the Father’s eyes we are worth the death of His own Son. Through His death, we are offered unending Life. The Blood of Jesus indicates the direction our lives should take. It points the way to the One Who calls us from the earth in which we live to the Life on high we have been promised, a life worth any sacrifice. There is an unimaginable sense of fulfillment for those who take on the challenge to die to themselves and their distorted egos each day. We “allow” God to be alive in us making life worth living and heaven a promise fulfilled progressively each day. 

The Precious Blood of Our Savior is a reminder of that life-giving element that flows mystically in the veins of all God’s children through the Eucharist. Sharing the gift of the Eucharist we, like the bishops mentioned above, offer one another the gift of ourselves in Christ. We are the living “fermentum” called to unity in the peace of Christ. The Savior takes on a nature that will eventually betray His Love (the symbol of His Sacred Heart) and destroy His life (the symbol of His Precious Blood). To some these spiritual images may seem somewhat macabre reminders of death. For the Christian, they are signs of the Infinite Love expressed in the life of Jesus.   

Are you willing to share the Eucharist you receive with others? Are you willing to share the Eucharist you are supposed to become with each Communion received as a united act of love for any and all of God’s children, with special regard for our own sisters and brothers without exception, in other words “without gloss”? Is the Blood of Christ shed in His Passion and Death just a ritualistic celebration with no lasting transforming effect in you?  Have we, who pride ourselves on being called Franciscans and that is spiritual children of St. Francis of Assisi, truly sought to follow the example of the Poverello by sharing the Eucharist we become, that is ourselves, with all, or only the select few?  As a Eucharistic fraternity – and we are! – do we strive to live the Paschal Mystery of Christ, in one mind and heart as the “fermentum” we are called to be in this divided and violent world? The response will determine how true we are to the Spirit Who calls us to Life as a ”fermentum” that leavens the dough of our life to become a “real presence” of the Mystical Christ in our midst. Our honest response will indicate the direction and integrity of our Catholic Faith and Franciscan Profession.  

May Mary, Mother of the Redeemer, intercede for us, Her children, and encourage us not to fear but to embrace the Cross of Her Son. The Cross is our Anchor of Salvation. The Cross-anchor gives stability to lives often caught up in the troublesome waters of the sea of life.  

In your fraternal charity let us keep each other in prayer. May God bless all of you, Our Lady and good St. Joseph guide, guard and protect you, and our Seraphic Father St. Francis of Assisi look upon all of us, his Spiritual Children, with loving care. 

Peace and Blessings 

Fr. Francis A. Sariego, OFM Cap 

Regional Spiritual Assistant 






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