December 2022 Thoughts for the Day by Father Francis Sariego, OFM Cap

December 2022 

O admirable heights and sublime lowliness! 

O sublime humility! O humble sublimity! 

That the Lord of the universe, 

God and the Son of God, 

so humbles Himself 

that for our salvation 

He hides Himself 

under the little form of bread! 

Look, brothers, at the humility of God 

and pour out your hearts before Him! 

Humble yourselves, as well, 

that you may be exalted by Him. 

Therefore, hold back nothing of yourselves for yourselves 

so that He Who gives Himself totally to you 

may receive you totally. 

The Tree of the Crucified Life of Jesus 

Book Five 

Chapter Three 



At the close of the fifth status of the Church’s pilgrimage, the self-indulgent were teeming like oxen, the avaricious crawling like reptiles, the arrogant as fierce as beasts, bringing an all-out defiling influence upon her life and causing her to be gnawed by a deceptive, ungodly, and heretical horde. – Conscience is God’s presence within us. 

It was out of jealous love for His Bride that Jesus was angry at her maliciousness, for great numbers of her children had gone the way of adulterers. Nevertheless, His anger did not diminish His mercy, and to the Church of the fifth age He directed a final call.- When beauty overwhelms us we are close to worship

Within her He raised up men of the loftiest integrity to root out greed and drive away indulgence. These men hated duplicity and stood up for the truth; they lit the fires of charity and restored the meaning of honor. – Lay hold of the Bible until the Bible lays hold of you

They surpassed others in a remarkable imitation of Christ Himself, and by the example of their life showed up a Church that was blemished. The word they preached stirred the people to penance, while the subject of their discourses confounded the distortions of heresy, and their praying was the shield that appeased the divine anger.- Endurance is the ability to bear a hard thing and to turn it into glory. 

Among these, the ones that shone brightest were Francis and Dominic, whose prototypes were Elijah and Henoch. The one was touched by the purifying coal of the Seraph and aflame with a heaven-sent ardor, so that he seemed to set the whole world alight. –  God calls where your deep gladness meets the world’s deep hunger

The other, like the Cherub with protecting wings outstretched, bright with the light of wisdom, prolific through his preaching, had a most radiant effect on a darkened world. Those are the features they initially transmitted to their sons; although the resplendence and ardor of both these individuals must be linked to an extraordinary outpouring of the Spirit. – Repentance is sorrow converted into action toward a new and better life

The evil of the fifth age as a whole, however, lay in a perverse and widespread vainglory; the kind that is fed by greed and temporal affluence. Therefore, the man who thoroughly ruled out temporal possessions for himself and his status may be regarded as the principal reformer of that age. – Lord, shine through me and be so in me.  

And since in him the Church’s sixth status begins, and the “life of Christ” was to take shape anew in him, we may say he is prefigured by that first man God created by His own deliberate counsel after the work of the five days in the image of his own likeness, that he might be master of all times.- Lord, may every soul I meet feel your presence in my spirit

Take note that this does not mean that the saints of the sixth age are greater than the Apostles. For the latter, by reason of their unique following of Christ, must be excepted from comparison with all others. – Reverence for life offers us a spiritual relationship with the world. 


Yet from among these others Dominic takes his place in the spiritual reform, with his all-embracing, thorough, and complete spurning of earthly things. Each one of these saints fully and perfectly trampled mundane interests and commanded their descendants to do likewise.- People are unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered. Love them away! 


We have decided, however, to treat here and now of that man whose status is singled out for attack at present by those who are spoiling the evangelical life, just as from the outset it was under attack, only more forcefully, from crafty masters who reviled the most exalted poverty. – Faith knows the way; Hope points the way; Love is the way


So, let us turn our discussion directly on the man who, we can say, conspicuously represented the life of Christ, not only in the pattern of his behavior, but in the loftiness of his contemplation; not only by the extraordinary admiration he drew, but by that privilege that was his when marked with the wounds of the most holy passion of Jesus Christ. – Confession of evil works is the beginning of good works


[Imitator of Christ] 


For if we are to talk of the way he lived, who is capable of telling in full how he sought to imitate the closest likeness to the life of Christ? His whole aim, in public and in private, was to reproduce in himself and in others those footprints of Christ which had been covered over and forgotten. – I do believe; help my unbelief


And the unique privilege granted the blessed Francis was this: to be the first entitled to transmit to holy Church the life of Jesus, scrupulously in all its aspects, in a communal and durable state through his Order. – The greatest truths are the simplest, and so are the greatest people. 


In point of fact the holy Apostles were the peerless foundations upon which this life was laid, that is, after the most important and principal cornerstone, Christ Jesus, in whom the whole ecclesial edifice is built up, grows, and is completed. – Imitating Mary, you will not go astray.  


Nevertheless, as has been pointed out elsewhere, since the Synagogue was to be excluded for its sin of faithlessness and the Gentile world was not yet ready to take on such lofty standards, the Holy Spirit revealed to the Apostles that the actual status of Gospel perfection was not for passing on to all and sundry in those times. – Praying to Mary, you will not despair


That is why they did not impose on the churches they governed the observance of that state of life which for themselves was prescribed by Christ and which they had adopted and observed to the full. – Thinking of Mary, you will not err


For this was reserved for the third general status of the whole world’s history, when the Holy Spirit is manifested in a special manner, the time of the opening of the sixth seal, the sixth age of the Church, when she is to be presented with the life of Christ. – Supported by Mary, you will not fail. 


Then is the life of Jesus returned to, as to the principle of perfection; it is as if a new circular journey were begun, a fresh beginning for the Church, as she returns to her first days. – Embraced by Mary, you will be saved


And that is why I told you earlier that this sixth age refers especially to the time of Christ. John speaks of this symbolically as the opening of the sixth seal I saw another angel rising where the sun rises, carrying the seal of the living God. – If you judge people, you have no time to love them. 


Now, the abbot Joachim, in his commentary on the Apocalypse, has this to say: “This angel is the one whom Christ looks upon as His like who is to come at the beginning of the third status of the world’s history.” – Kindness is the music of life. 


Therefore, from the insight granted to Joachim, it is plain that at the beginning of the sixth status the world would be given an “angelic man” whom Christ regards as resembling Himself, since he is to appear as the one great restorer of the life of Christ. – Seek always to discover the child asleep in the most severe and obstinate people


I myself heard from a doctor of distinction belonging to this Order that he was present when Brother Bonaventure, general minister at the time and himself a distinguished teacher, solemnly declared at a Paris Chapter that he was fully convinced that the blessed Francis was the angel of the sixth seal. –  The recognition of sin is the beginning of salvation


He said that John the Evangelist actually had Francis, his form of life, and his Order in mind; that when he was writing, he saw Francis in spirit; that, in all the verses he was writing about the sixth opening in the Apocalypse, he beheld the fraternity of his sons, who were perfect imitators of Christ. – Christmas begins in God’s heart and is complete only when it enters my heart


Also at that Paris Chapter the same Brother Bonaventure stated, with a good deal of passion, as I heard from my source, unless my memory fails me, that he was fully satisfied no doubts could be entertained about all this, on account of significant and unequivocal revelations made to persons of serious caliber. – Jesus is the condescension of divinity, and the exaltation of humanity


I who write this am convinced, by the many testimonies of holy brothers of the past, that clear revelations were made to the blessed Francis and to many companions of his—whose apostolic life is beyond suspicion to the mind that is not dishonest, envious, or twisted—concerning the Order from its foundation, through its growth, dreadful decline and fall, to its glorious resurgence; rather like the sun’s course, which in turn portrays the life of Christ. – When the soul lays down its faults before God, it feels as though it had wings


These things were revealed not to one person only but to many, and so explicitly that they recounted them with absolute assurance. – Whom shall I send? Here I am. Send me

[Witness of John of Parma] 


Nor are we to omit the testimony of a holy man of God, one of the greatest men of perfection of our times, to judge by all visible proofs: I speak of that most holy brother, John of Parma. He was General of this Order, a teacher of the highest renown, an excellent preacher; there were no bounds to his austerity, humility and charity, nor to his attaining contemplative heights and his pursuit of solitude. – If you want an increase in Jesus there must be a decrease in self. 


Distancing himself from all worldliness, he was devoured by a godly zeal over the debasement he saw in this institution and in the Church. Unflagging as he was in declaring the truth about this, he received the direst harassment and vilification, which he bore with the greatest patience. – The world is round, and the place which seems like the end may be the beginning


This did not deter him from passionately adducing the same realities before several popes and many cardinals. He most certainly deserves to be numbered, by those who sincerely love and imitate Jesus, among the seraphic heroes and with the celestial Church’s great holy men.- Positive anything is better than negative nothing. 


For the same man in fervor of spirit at an advanced age was bracing up his energies for activity, with the aid of grace, not nature; as though he were a disciple of John the Evangelist, he was willing to go and win back wayward Asia for Christ. He had obtained permission for this from the pope of the time, but while he was on his way and had reached Camerino, a town in the Marches, he was called to heavenly glory by Jesus, to whom he had been utterly devoted through observance of the Gospel and the Rule and Testament of the blessed father Francis. – You may not have been responsible for your heritage, but you are responsible for your future

Blessed and Happy New Year 2023 


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