March 2022 Thoughts for the Day by Father Francis Sariego, OFS Cap

March 2022

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

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 forever. 


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

 Chapter XIII 





From then on, blessed Francis, going around the cities and villages, began to preach more widely and more perfectly proclaiming the kingdom of God with confidence, not in the persuasive words of human wisdom, but in the learning and power of the Holy Spirit. – To ease another’s heartbreak is to ease one’s own.


Strengthened by apostolic authority, he was a forthright preacher of truth, not using fawning words or seductive flattery, because he first convinced himself by action and then convinced others by word, so that he spoke the truth with the greatest fidelity. – For evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing


Even a very great number of learned and well-educated people marveled at his power and truth, which no human had taught, and they hurried to see and hear him as if he were a person of another age. Drawn by divine inspiration, many people, well-born and lowly, cleric and lay, began to cling to blessed Francis’s footsteps, and, after they had abandoned the concerns and vanity of this world, to live under his discipline. – When the spirit soars, the body falls on its knees.


The blessed father with his sons were staying in a place near Assisi called Rivotorto where there was a hut abandoned by all. The place was so cramped that they could barely sit or rest. Very often for lack of bread, their only food was the turnips that they begged in their need, here and there. – The face of Christ shows us the character of God.


The man of God would write the names of the brothers on the beams of that hut, so that anyone wishing to rest or pray would know his place, and so that any unusual noise would not disturb the mind’s silence in such small and close quarters. – Who lives for himself is apt to be corrupted by the company he keeps.


One day while the brothers were staying in that place, a peasant came with his donkey, wanting to stay in that hut with it. And so that he would not be driven away by the brothers, on walking into the hut, he said to his donkey: “Go in, go in, because we will do well in this place.” – We are rich in proportion to the number of things we can do without.


When the holy father heard the peasant’s words and realized his intention, he was annoyed at him, most of all because he made quite an uproar with his donkey, disturbing all the brothers who were then immersed in silence and prayer. – It takes two sides to make a lasting peace but only one side to take the first step.


Then the man of God said to his brothers: “I know, brothers, that God did not call us to prepare a lodging for a donkey, nor to have dealings with men. While we are preaching the way of salvation to people and are giving them wise counsel, we should dedicate ourselves most of all to prayer and thanksgiving.” – We cannot give like God, but we can forgive like God.


They left that hut for the use of poor lepers, moving to a small dwelling near Saint Mary of the Portiuncula where they stayed from time to time before acquiring that church. – Ignore people who try to be little you; they are trying to cut you down to their own size.


Afterwards blessed Francis, in accordance with God’s will and inspiration, obtained it from the abbot of the monastery of Saint Benedict on Mount Subasio near Assisi. The saint, in a special and affectionate way, commended this place to the general minister and to all the brothers, as the place loved by the glorious Virgin more than any other place or church in this world. – Serve one another with whatever gift you have received from God.


A vision one of the brothers had, while in the world, contributed much to the commendation and love of this place. Blessed Francis loved this brother with unique affection as long as he was with him, by showing him extraordinary affection. This man, wanting to serve God—as he later did so faithfully in religion—saw in a vision that all the people of the world were blind and were kneeling in a circle around the church of Saint Mary of the Portiuncula with their hands joined and their faces raised to heaven. – Where love is, there is God also.


In a loud and sobbing voice, they were begging the Lord in his mercy to give them sight. While they were praying, it seemed that a great light came from heaven and, resting on them, enlightened all of them with its wholesome radiance. – Prayer is the most powerful energy one can generate.


On awakening, the man resolved to serve God more faithfully, and, shortly thereafter, leaving the world with its seductions, he entered religion where he persevered in the service of God with humility and dedication. – Prayer is a force as real as earth’s gravity.


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. They appointed brothers throughout the various provinces who would preach to the people, and assigned other brothers in their provinces. – Use what talents you possess.


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. He used to revere prelates and priests of the holy Church, and honored the elderly, the noble, and the wealthy. – To be Christian is to be like Christ.


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. – We don’t need more Christianity but more Christians who practice it.


He humbly and eagerly obeyed him, in order to avoid any occasion of pride. For in the presence of people, he lowered his head even to the ground; so that now in the presence of God’s saints and chosen ones, he merits to be exalted in the divine sight. – The only tyrant to accept in this world is the still voice within.


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.- It is possible to give without loving but never possible to love without giving.


He wanted priests who handle the tremendous and greatest sacraments to be honored uniquely by the brothers, so that wherever they met them, as they bowed their heads to them, they would kiss their hands. – Choice, not chance, determines destiny.


And if they found them on horseback, he wanted them not only to kiss their hands but, out of reverence for their power, even the hooves of the horses upon which they were riding. 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. – Lord, bless me with the clarity of vision to discern your will.


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. – Lord, bless me with the courage of heart to carry out your will.


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.” 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. – Every action of our lives will vibrate in eternity.


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.” – Apathy is the glove into which evil slips its hand.


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. – One who cannot be little will never be great.


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. 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. – Who prays as he ought will endeavor to live as he prays.


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. 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. – What is going to be is up to me.


Nevertheless he duly rebuked all delinquents, and restrained the obstinate and rebellious with an appropriate punishment. When a chapter had ended, he would bless all the brothers and assign each of them to individual provinces. – One can criticize only if he/she has the heart to help.


To anyone possessing the Spirit of God and an 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. – Character is a victory and not a gift.


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. – Jesus cannot be our Savior unless first He is our Lord.


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 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. – The Will of God, Nothing more, Nothing less.


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. 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. – Character consists on what you do on the third and fourth tries.



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