September 2022 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:


September 2022

Dear Sisters and Brothers in St. Francis,

May the Lord give you His peace!

The civil authorities of the city of Bologna customarily travel to Assisi to make their traditional offering of oil for the lamp that burns before the tomb of Saint Francis. On one of these pilgrimages the cardinal of Bologna who accompanied them reminded all present of a phrase of the Seraphic Father: If the men involved in government are not just, they will go to hell. Obviously, this touched a chord in the minds and hearts of the government officials who had come to Assisi with His Eminence. After the ceremonies had concluded, the Mayor and his councilors expressed their sadness that the cardinal had made such a pointed and unnecessary political comment, and in public no less. The cardinal defended himself by saying that the words were the words of Saint Francis and that they referred to all people who were not just, both politicians as well as others. One of those among the group of politicians present replied: The words were those of Saint Francis, but the finger that pointed them out to us was the finger of Your Eminence!

It is not easy to be a prophet, to be one who fearlessly reminds others of their responsibilities before God and the consequences for knowingly neglecting them. “Speaking the truth to power” often is fruitless and sometimes even dangerous for the prophet who speaks in the name of God. The prophet points the way to God, speaks in the name of God, acts in the Name of God. Sometime, the prophet is misunderstood and may be targeted by those who dislike what they hear. Most times, the prophet is understood quite well, and is persecuted because of the message and challenge he offers others in the name of God. We are called to be prophets or, to use an expression of St. Francis, ‘Heralds of the Great King’. We must believe what we preach, preach what we believe, and live what we believe. The credibility of our lives enforces our words.

Sometimes, God directly enters the picture and causes wonderful things to happen. They may also be confusing to the recipient of the gift. Nevertheless, those “things” that take place cannot be doubted as being the “finger of God” pointing out the prophet who then points the way to God.

St. Francis of Assisi, our Seraphic Father, lived a wonderfully unique mystical experience. The mystery of the Passion-Death-Resurrection of Jesus transformed St. Francis not only internally but also externally for all to see. He not only contemplated the Crucified Jesus but was gifted with living the Image of the Crucified in a most emphatic manner for the world to see. What was imprinted on his heart at San Damiano at the beginning of his “conversion journey”, years later was imprinted on his body at La Verna. The gifts God entrusts to His privileged children are not for them alone, but for all the world to “listen” to the message conveyed by what they see.

St. Francis was born into a rather well-to-do family. The attractions of his native Umbrian society and the amenities of the self-made upper middle-class family into which he was born conditioned and captivated his early life. He took advantage of the love and material gifts his father and mother gave him to the point of being considered the ‘king of revelers’ during his teen years entering his twenties. The heart knows what the head often refuses to acknowledge. Thus, in his early twenties, Francis acknowledged and sought to fill a profound void in his life. He knew he had to rid himself of his ‘wants’ that for many so often seem or become ‘needs’. He discovered the treasure that moth cannot destroy nor rust corrode. The Living Word, the Gospel, Who is Jesus, became his life. His spirit of living the Gospel life attracted thousands in the first few years to follow his ideal. Totally free from all things, he sought his only wealth in the poverty of Christ.

In September 1224, two years before his death would usher him into eternity early in life, while at prayer at a solitary site on a mountaintop called La Verna in Tuscany, he received the answer to his prayer: O Lord Jesus Christ, two graces do I ask You before I die: the first, that in my lifetime I may feel, as far as possible, both in my soul and body, that pain which You, sweet Lord, endured in the hour of Your most bitter Passion; the second, that I may feel in my heart as much as possible of that excess of love by which You, O Son of God, were inflamed to suffer so cruel a Passion for us sinners. A winged Seraph appeared to him and signed him with the visible marks of the wounds of Christ. St. Francis of Assisi, the Little Poor Man, the Universal Brother, had become a living image of the Crucified Christ. The marks gave witness to the integrity of the person who bore them and credibility to the message he had now become. When a spirit of indifference was taking over the world, (The Lord) renewed in the flesh of St. Francis the sacred Stigmata of (His) Passion to rekindle in the hearts of all the fire of (His) love (adapted Opening Prayer for the Feast of the Impression of the Stigmata).

The Stigmata he bore spoke volumes for those willing to ‘read’ them (the stigmata) in a spirit of faith. To see Francis was to see the living image of the Crucified. To see what Francis became was a reminder of the presence of God through his “new” prophets. The prophets of every age’s “today” offer people the challenge to change from tepidity to the Gospel Message to an enthusiastic fervor that could rekindle the fire of the Spirit of God’s Love in a world grown cold. To encounter Francis was to recognize God speaking through him reminding all of God’s limitless love and calling everyone to cooperate with grace and become the persons they and we were all created to be.

Who are we? We are children of the Father, redeemed in the blood of the Son, bound together in the family of God by the power of the Holy Spirit. Those willing to understand and accept the message of the wounds, and the persons signed with them, knew they were ‘called to action’. The Stigmata calls to action not apathy, to loving not loathing, to conviction not complacency, to determination not doubt, to commitment not compromise, to living not lethargy.

The Stigmata of St. Francis, were accepted and recognized by the Church from the very beginning of the mystical moment when our Seraphic Father was imprinted with them. Though he lived only a few years after he received the Stigmata, Francis was like the bronze serpent Moses raised for the Israelites to look on – lest they die – and be healed of the venom of the serpents that had bitten them. The venom of the Serpent that has bitten and poisoned so many of God’s elect down through the centuries continues its murderous mission as it seeks to infect the lives of good people who sincerely search for and desire the Lord in their lives. Tepidity, indifference, arrogance, rejection, denial, persecution and the like turn people away from the face of the One Who from the Cross calls all people to Himself. The Stigmata in St. Francis as in all those privileged with this awesome gift are visible signs for all to Gaze upon the Lord, Gaze upon His face (St. Clare in letter to St. Agnes of Prague). We gaze so that the image is emblazoned in our memory and hearts that we might be rekindled in fervor for and love of Christ Jesus.

As Spiritual Children of St. Francis of Assisi, we continue to let Jesus come alive in a world grown cold to the Gospel of Our Lord Jesus Christ.  The ‘Good News’ that we preach with our lives is that God so loved the world He sent His only Son so that all who believe in Him might have life. He did not come to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. When we ‘climb Calvary’ with Christ and accept to receive ‘our own stigmata’ and bear joyfully the responsibilities and burdens that come with life, we begin to rekindle the flame of faith in the hearts of others, as it grows stronger by God’s grace in ourselves.

The signing of our Seraphic Father with the Sacred Stigmata of Jesus calls us to action.  It must however begin with each one of us first, before it can reach out and touch others.  Ultimately, we reach a point where everything is in perspective and even the world is put under our feet. We then recognize the world as the theater of Redemption, rather than as a stumbling-block of distractions and seductions that destroy fervor and lead to tepidity, indifference, and finally separation from all that is good and all that is God. St. Francis’ Prayer asking to experience the love that Jesus had in dying for us, and his reception of the Stigmata on La Verna help us to reflect upon a simple and powerful way to strengthen and deepen our spiritual lives.

1)      Imitate Love – Ask God for the ability to surrender totally in trust to God’s will.  Love is total surrender to the One Who surrenders Himself for us on the Cross and to us in the Eucharist. 

2)      Meditate on the Sufferings and Love of Jesus – Keep the image of the Passion-Death of Jesus alive in your heart.  We Franciscans are noted for our affective prayer.  It touches the heart and makes the reality of what we consider more vivid and impressive

3)      Love the Cross – Do not fear the image of suffering and death.  The Cross without Christ is a lie.  With Christ, the Cross becomes not a sign of death but Life, not a sign of hatred but Love. Keep the image always alive in your heart and your life, especially in the midst of the heavy burdens that might come. 

4)      Grow in Christian Perfection – The spiritual life is not static.  Once Christ and the Cross become ‘real’ and present to the heart, we must proceed forward by ‘living Jesus’ and His Gospel more intensely. 

5)      Climb Calvary – Once we grow in our Christian life, we cannot help but desire to ‘climb Calvary’ to be one with the mystery of our redemption

6)      Embrace with Cheerful Soul Everything – Having embraced the Cross and stood with Jesus, all else becomes a gift we can easily embrace with gratitude, trust, and cheerfulness. Yes, ‘cheerfulness’. To embrace one thing is not to embrace something else.  God loves a cheerful giver. When we embrace cheerfully what God’s permits, we let go of our false securities and comfort zones, and just trust. 

7)     Be Faithful – Nothing can be taken for granted.  We must be ever on the watch to remain faithful.  Never become complacent thinking that everything happens now automatically.  The Spirit’s work is kept alive by faith-filled lives that never slacken, that renew the ‘process’ everyday with greater commitment and intensity.  

8)     Place the World Under Your Feet – Like the famous image of St. Francis embracing the Crucified with the world at his feet, now we are able to use the world as the theater of redemption it is and make use of all creation as the gifts that can lead us to the fullness of life, rather than allow the world to control, condition, and ultimately condemn us.

The impression of the Stigmata of Jesus on Saint Francis of Assisi, celebrated this month, challenges us to remember and live the words Per Crucem ad Lucem – Through the Cross to the Light (St. Pope Paul VI). The wounds of the Passion speak of a world that refused and rejected the Incarnate God Who took on human nature that humanity might rise above what was leading it astray from God.  Treachery, betrayal, capture, torture, and death were the ‘thanks’ offered all the blessings bestowed and received.  The wounds we celebrate in Our Seraphic Father call us to be spiritually impressed with the same ‘signs’ and to respond unconditionally and wholeheartedly to the gift as did our Seraphic Father St. Francis of Assis, Penitent, Poverello, and Universal Brother.

May God bless us; may Mary, Queen and Mother of our Seraphic Family and good St. Joseph, guide, guard, and protect us; and may Our Seraphic Father St. Francis of Assisi and our Holy Mother St. Clare of Assisi watch over each one of us, their Spiritual Children, with loving care.

Peace and Blessings

Fr. Francis A. Sariego, O.F.M. Cap.

Regional Spiritual Assistant






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