November 2021 Thought for the Day by Father Francis Sariego, OFM Cap

November 2021

Most High, all-powerful, good Lord, 

Yours are the praises, the glory, and the honor, and all blessing, 

To you alone, Most High, do they belong, 

and no human is worthy to mention Your name. 

Praised be You, my Lord, with all Your creatures, 

especially Sir Brother Sun, …  Sister Moon and the stars, …Brother Wind, … 

Sister Water, … Brother Fire, … our Sister Mother Earth, … 

Praised be You, my Lord, through those who give pardon for Your love, … 

Praised be you, my Lord, through our Sister Bodily Death, 

from whom no one living can escape. 

Woe to those who die in mortal sin. 

Blessed are those whom death will find in Your most holy will, 

for the second death shall do them no harm. 

Praise and bless my Lord and give Him thanks and serve Him with great humility. 


(Canticle of the Creatures [abbreviated] by Saint Francis of Assisi) 


Excerpts from: Legend of the Three Companions 

Daily reflections are taken from various sources



Chapter VII  





Therefore, Francis, the servant of God, stripped of all that is of the world, is free for divine justice and, despising his own life, he gives himself to divine service in every way he can. Returning to the church of San Damiano, joyful and eager, he made a hermit’s habit for himself, and comforted the priest of that church with the same words with which the bishop had comforted him. –  No talent can survive the blight of neglect.


Then, getting up and going back to the city, he began to praise the Lord throughout the piazzas and neighborhoods, like one inebriated with the Spirit. When he finished praising the Lord in this way, he turned to obtaining stones for the repair of the church. “Whoever gives me one stone,” he would say, “will have one reward. Whoever gives me two, will have two rewards. Whoever gives me three, will have that many rewards.” – Envy comes from people’s ignorance of, or lack of belief in, their own gifts.


Thus, burning with enthusiasm, he also made many other simple statements. Because he was unlettered and simple, the man chosen by God did not speak in the learned words of human wisdom, but in everything was quite simple. – Don’t hide your talents. They were made to be used.


Many ridiculed him thinking he was mad, while others, prompted by piety, were moved to tears seeing how quickly he had come from such pleasure and worldly vanity to such an intoxication of divine love. Disregarding their scorn, he thanked God with burning enthusiasm. – Hell is full of the talented, but Heaven of the energetic.


It would be long and difficult to relate how he worked on the project, for he, who had been very refined in his father’s house, hauled stones on his own shoulders, afflicting himself greatly in the service of God. The priest judged the work to be beyond his strength, even though he was offering himself so enthusiastically to divine service. – We judge ourselves by what we feel capable of doing and others judge us by what we have done.


Although poor himself, he obtained special food for Francis, for he knew that, while he was in the world, he had lived rather delicately… he said to himself: “Will you find a priest like this wherever you go who will offer you such human kindness? This is not the life of the poor that you have chosen. As a beggar, going from door to door, you should carry a bowl in your hand, and, driven by necessity, you should collect the scraps they give you. This is how you must live willingly, out of love for him who was born poor, lived very poorly in this world, remained naked and poor on the cross, and was buried in a tomb belonging to another.” – Character is formed in the storms of life.


As a result, one day he took a bowl and, entering the city, he went door-to-door begging alms. Whenever he put various scraps in his bowl, many who knew what a pampered life he had lived were astonished at how marvelously changed he was, seeing that he held himself in such contempt. – One of the most distressing signs of our times is the denial of guilt.


But when he wanted to eat the mixed food offered him, he felt revulsion because he was not accustomed not only to eating such things, but even at looking at them. At last overcoming himself, he began to eat, and it seemed to him that no delicacy had ever tasted so delicious. Then his heart rejoiced in the Lord so much that his flesh, although weak and afflicted, was strong enough to endure joyfully for the Lord anything harsh or bitter. – Lack of wealth is easily repaired, but the poverty of the soul is irreparable.


Above all, he gave thanks to God that He had changed the bitter into the sweet, and that He had comforted him in so many ways. Then he told the priest not to prepare or obtain any food for him in the future. – The line separating good and evil passes right through every human heart.


When his father saw him in such disgrace, he was filled with unusual pain. Because he loved him dearly, he was ashamed and felt great sorrow for him. Seeing his flesh half-dead from excessive affliction and cold, he would curse him whenever he came upon him. Aware of his father’s curses, the man of God chose a poor and looked-down-upon man to take the place of his father, and told him: “Come with me, and I will give you some of the alms that were given to me. – Pain is God’s loudspeaker to arouse a deaf world.


When you see my father cursing me, I will also say to you: ‘Bless me, father.’ You will then make the sign of the cross over me, and bless me in his place.” – God whispers in our pleasures but shouts in our pains.


The next time this happened and the beggar was blessing him, the man of God said to his father: “Don’t you believe that God can give me a father to bless me against your curses?” Afterwards, many of those who mocked him and saw how patiently he endured every abuse marveled with great astonishment. – Nothing great was ever done without much enduring.


One winter morning, while he was at prayer, dressed in poor clothes, his carnal brother was passing by, and remarked sarcastically to his companion: “You might tell Francis to sell you a penny’s worth of his sweat.” When the man of God heard this, filled with a wholesome joy, he answered enthusiastically in French: “I will sell that sweat to my Lord at a high price.” – What is Calvary if just beyond it lies and Easter morning! 


While he was working steadily at restoring the church, he wanted to have a lamp burning continually in the church, so he went through the city begging for oil. But when he was approaching a certain house, he saw a group of men gathered for a game. Ashamed to beg in front of them, he backed away. Mulling it over, he accused himself of having sinned. Hurrying back to the place where they were playing, he told everyone standing around his fault,  that he was ashamed to beg because of them. And, in fervor of spirit, he entered that house and, for the love of God, begged in French for oil for the lamps of that church. – There are too many people we just leave asleep.


While laboring with others in that work, he used to cry to passers-by in a loud voice, filled with joy, saying in French: “Come and help me in the work of the church of San Damiano which, in the future, will be a monastery of ladies through whose fame and life our heavenly Father will be glorified throughout the church.” – The greatest of all disorders is to think that we are whole and do not need help.


See how, filled with the spirit of prophecy, he truly foretold the future! For this is that sacred place where the glorious religion and most excellent Order of Poor Ladies and sacred virgins had its happy beginning about six years after the conversion of blessed Francis and through the same blessed Francis. – Life is the childhood of our immortality

Chapter VIII 





While he was completing the church of San Damiano, blessed Francis wore the habit of a hermit: a staff in his hand, shoes on his feet, and a leather belt around his waist. Then, one day at Mass, he heard those things which Christ tells the disciples who were sent out to preach, instructing them to carry no gold or silver, a wallet or a purse, bread, walking stick, or shoes, or two tunics. – The only ultimate disaster that can befall us is to feel ourselves at home on this earth.


After understanding this more clearly because of the priest, he was filled with indescribable joy. “This,” he said, “is what I want to do with all my strength.” And so, after committing to memory everything he had heard, he joyfully fulfilled them, removed his second garment without delay, and from then on never used a walking stick, shoes, purse, or wallet. – The shortest life is the best if it leads us to the eternal.


He made for himself a very cheap and plain tunic, and, throwing the belt away, he girded himself with a cord. Applying all the care of his heart to observe the words of new grace as much as possible, he began, inspired by God, to be a messenger of evangelical perfection and, in simple words, to preach penance in public. His words were neither hollow nor ridiculous, but filled with the power of the Holy Spirit, penetrating the marrow of the heart, so that listeners were turned to great amazement. – To believe in immortality is one thing, but it is necessary to believe in the life.


As he later testified, he learned a greeting of this sort by the Lord’s revelation: “May the Lord give you peace!” Therefore, in all his preaching, he greeted the people at the beginning of his sermon with a proclamation of peace…This greeting of peace was used before his conversion by a precursor who frequently went through Assisi greeting the people with “Peace and good! Peace and good!” – Love life, and live it bravely and cheerfully and as faithfully as you can.


It seems plausible that, as John heralded Christ but withdrew when Christ began his mission of preaching, so too, like another John, this man preceded Francis in using the greeting of peace, but disappeared when he appeared. – Love is the most real thing in the world.


Immediately, therefore, filled with the spirit of the prophets, the man of God, Francis, after that greeting, proclaimed peace preached salvation, and, according to a prophetic passage, by his salutary admonitions, brought to true peace many who had previously lived at odds with Christ and far from salvation. – Our generation is remarkable for the number of people who must believe something but do not know what.


As both the truth of blessed Francis’s simple teaching as well as that of his life became known to many, two years after his conversion, some men began to be moved to do penance by his example and, leaving all things, they joined him in life and habit. The first of these was Brother Bernard of holy memory. He knew well how luxuriously blessed Francis had lived in the world; now he observed his constancy and zeal in the divine service, how, in particular, he was restoring dilapidated churches with a great deal of work, and what an austere life he was leading. – We are called to be by grace all that Christ is by nature.


He planned wholeheartedly to give everything he possessed to the poor, and, with determination, to join him in life and garb. Thanking God, for he did not then have a companion, blessed Francis was overjoyed, especially since Lord Bernard was a person of great stature. – The one who fulfills responsibility with fear, will always be held with honor.


On the appointed evening, blessed Francis came to his house, his heart filled with great joy, and spent that whole night with him. Among many things, Lord Bernard said to him: “If, for many years, someone holds on to the possessions, many or few, he has acquired from his lord, and no longer wishes to keep them, what is the better thing for him to do with them?” Blessed Francis answered that he must give back to the lord what was received from him. And Lord Bernard said: “Then, brother, I want to give away all my worldly goods for the love of my Lord who gave them to me, as it seems best to you.” – You can never be credible to others if first you do not believe what you say in your heart.


The saint told him: “We will go to the church early in the morning and, through the book of the Gospels, we will learn how the Lord instructed his disciples.” Rising at daybreak, then, together with another man named Peter, who also wanted to become a brother, they went to the church of San Nicolò next to the piazza of the city of Assisi. – Through Baptism we do not belong to the Church, we are the Church.


They prayed devoutly that the Lord would show them his will on opening the book the first time. Once they had finished prayer, blessed Francis took the closed book and, kneeling before the altar, opened it. At its first opening, the Lord’s counsel confronted them: If you wish to be perfect, go, sell everything you possess and give to the poor, and you will have a treasure in heaven. – Truth is always the strongest argument.


Blessed Francis was overjoyed when he read this passage and thanked God. But since he was a true worshiper of the Trinity, he desired it to be confirmed by a threefold affirmation. He opened the book a second and a third time. When he opened it up the second time he saw: Take nothing for your journey, etc., and at the third opening: If any man wishes to come after me, he must deny himself, etc. Each time he opened the book, blessed Francis thanked God for confirming his plan and the desire he had conceived earlier. –  Truth exists, only falsehood has to be invented.


After the third divine confirmation was pointed out and explained, he said to those men, Bernard and Peter: “Brothers, this is our life and rule and that of all who will want to join our company. Go, therefore, and fulfill what you have heard.” Then Lord Bernard, who was very rich, after selling all he had and acquiring a large sum of money, went and distributed it all to the city’s poor. – Truth is narrow, but error goes off in all directions.


Peter likewise followed the divine counsel according to his means. After getting rid of everything, they both received the habit which the saint had adopted after he put aside the habit of a hermit; and, from that hour, they lived with him according to the form of the holy Gospel as the Lord had shown them. This is why blessed Francis said in his Testament: “The Lord Himself revealed to me that I should live according to the form of the holy Gospel.” – We expect too much of God, but He always seems ready.

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