May 2024 – Fr. Francis Sariego, OFM Cap, Monthly Spiritual Reflection

St. Katharine 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

 May 2024

Though reflecting each month of the Jubilee Year celebrating the 800th anniversary of the reception of the Stigmata of the Christ by St. Francis of Assisi, the following prayer, composed by St. Francis, mat be recited is each day of this month to the Mother and Queen of our Seraphic Family.

Hail, O Lady,

Holy Queen,

Mary, holy Mother of God,

Who are the Virgin made Church,

Chosen by the most Holy Father in heaven

Whom he consecrated with His most holy beloved Son

And with the Holy Spirit and Paraclete,

In whom there was and is

All fullness of grace and every good.

Hail His Palace!

Hail His Tabernacle!

Hail His Dwelling!

Hail His Robe!

Hail His Servant!

Hail His Mother!

Daily excerpts from the Little Flowers of St. Francis, Fourth Consideration of the Stigmata.

Daily quotes from various spiritual writers.

Of the Fourth Consideration of the Sacred, Holy Stigmata

1 – As for the fourth consideration, it is worth knowing that, after the true love of Christ perfectly transformed Saint Francis into God and the true image of Christ crucified, the forty-day Lent in honor of Saint Michael the Archangel in the saint Mount Alverna, after the solemnity of Saint Michael, the angelic man Francis came down from the mountain with Brother Leo and a devout farmer, on whose donkey he was riding, since, because of the nails in his feet, he could not walk, but with great difficulty. – Do not have Jesus on your lips and the world in your heart.

2 – Having, therefore, descended from Mount Alverna, the fame of his holiness had already spread throughout the region and the shepherds had spread the fact of having seen Mount Alverna in flames, which was a sign that God had performed some miracle. To Saint Francis, all the people of the country, upon hearing that he was passing, came to see him. Men and women, small and large, all strove to touch him and kiss his hand with great devotion. – Carry the cross patiently and in the end it will carry.

3 – Not being able to escape the devotion of the people, although he had his palms bandaged, however, to better hide the sores, he still wrapped them and covered them with his sleeves, and only allowed the exposed fingers to be kissed. But, no matter how much he tried to hide and conceal the secret of the glorious wounds to flee from every occasion of worldly glory. – Kindness is loving people more than they deserve.

4 – It pleased God to manifest his glory with many miracles performed by the virtue of said wounds. Above all, on this journey from Mount Alverna to Santa María degli Ángeli, and later, with many others in different parts of the world, both during his life and after his death, so that his hidden and wonderful virtue and the measureless charity and mercy of Christ towards him through clear and evident wonders, of which we enumerate some here. – Which are you: a stumbling block or a stepping stone?

5 – It happened that, as Saint Francis approached a village on the edge of the Arezzo region, a woman stood before him, crying bitterly and carrying in her arms her eight-year-old son, who had been suffering from dropsy for four years; His belly was so disproportionately inflated that, standing upright, his feet could not be seen. The woman put the son in front of her, begging St. Francis to ask God for him. Saint Francis put himself first in prayer; Once this was finished, he placed his hands on the child’s belly. Immediately all the swelling disappeared and he was perfectly healthy, and he returned him to his mother, who received him with great joy and took him home, giving thanks to God and his saint. And she very gladly showed the cured son to the entire neighborhood who came to her house to see him. – Life can be understood backward but it must be lived forward.

6 – That same day Saint Francis passed through Borgo San Sepolcro. Before he reached the town, a crowd of people from the city and neighboring villages came out to meet him; Many of them went before him with olive branches in their hands and shouting loudly: — Here comes the saint, here comes the saint! – Trust in the Lord with all your heart.

7 – And people crowded and pressed on him in their desire to touch him out of devotion. But he went with his mind so elevated and absorbed in God through contemplation, that, no matter how much they touched him, pulled him, and squeezed him, as if he were insensitive, he did not feel anything that happened or was said around him, and He didn’t even realize that he was passing through the city or the region. – To repent is to take God’s point of view rather than my own.

8 – In fact, when they had passed Borgo and the crowd had returned to their homes, upon reaching a leprosarium a mile beyond Borgo, he came to himself from the celestial contemplation, and, as if coming from the other world, asked his companion: — When do we get to Borgo? – We see things not as they are but as we are.

9 – In truth, his spirit, fixed and absorbed in the contemplation of heavenly things, had not realized the things of earth, nor the diversity of places and times, nor the people he met. This also happened to him other times, as his companions could clearly verify. – How else but through a broken heart can the Lord Christ enter in?

10 – That night Saint Francis arrived at the hermitage that the brothers had in Monte Casale, where there was a brother so pitifully ill and horribly tormented by a disease, that his illness seemed more like tribulation or torment from the devil than a natural illness. He sometimes threw himself on the ground with great convulsions and foaming at the mouth; other times all the members of his body would contract, or they would distend or retract and twist until they touched the back of his neck with his heels; or else he would throw himself up and then fall on his back. – The effect of our sharing in the Body and Blood of Christ is to change us into what we receive.

11 – While Saint Francis was at table with his people, he heard them talk about this brother, a hopeless victim of such a pitiful illness, and he had compassion for him; He took a slice of bread that he was eating, made the sign of the cross on it with his holy stigmatized hands and sent it to the sick brother. As soon as he had eaten it, the patient was perfectly cured and never felt that illness again. – Knowing the truth and not doing it is as foolish as writing a love letter and not sending it.

12 – The next morning, Saint Francis sent two of the brothers who were in that hermitage to live in Alverna, and with them he sent along the farmer who had come with him, so that he could return to his home. The brothers went along with the farmer, and when they reached the territory of Arezzo, some of the inhabitants saw them from afar and were filled with joy thinking that Saint Francis was coming, who had passed through there two days before. – Our lives belong not to us alone but to all who need us.

13 – Now, the wife of one of them had been in childbirth pain for three days and she was about to die. They hoped that she would recover her health if they managed to get Saint Francis to place his holy hands on her. But, as the brothers approached, they were saddened that Saint Francis was not among them.  But although the Saint was not physically present, his power was not lacking, because the faith of those men was not lacking. Admirable thing! The woman was dying and she already had all the signs of death. They asked the brothers if they had anything that had been touched by the most holy hands of Saint Francis. – Prayer is an expression that we are living incompleteness.

14 – The brothers searched with interest, and found nothing else that Saint Francis had touched but what he was seated on while riding the donkey. They took it with great reverence and devotion and placed it on the body of the pregnant woman, devoutly invoking the name of Saint Francis and entrusting her to him with faith. As soon as the object touched the woman, she immediately felt out of danger and gave birth easily with joy and health. – When you betray somebody else, you betray yourself.

15 – After a stay of several days in the hermitage, he left there and headed to Città di Castello. Here the inhabitants presented him with a woman who had been possessed by the devil for some time, and humbly begged him to free her from the devil, because she had the entire region in an uproar with her screams, her ferocious screams, and her dog’s barking. Saint Francis, after praying, drew the sign of the cross on her and ordered the demon to come out of her. He left immediately, leaving her body and spirit healthy.- The fragrance always stays in the hand that gives the rose.

16 – When this miracle spread throughout the town, another woman with great faith brought her little boy, seriously ill with a malignant sore, to him and devoutly begged him to make the sign of the cross over the boy. Saint Francis, agreeing to his devotion, took the little boy, removed the bandage from the wound, blessed him by making the sign of the cross over him three times, and then bandaged him again with his hands and gave him to his mother. Since it was late, she simply put him to sleep in bed. In the morning she went to get the child out of bed, and found him without the bandage. He was completely cured, as if he had never had any illness. At the site of the sore the flesh had formed like a red rose, as if to bear witness to the miracle rather than as a scar from the sore. That rose, in fact, having remained with him throughout his life, often incited him to devotion to Saint Francis, who had cured him. – Courage is doing what you are afraid to do. There is no courage without being scared.

17 – Saint Francis stayed in that city for a month, acceding to the devout prayers of the inhabitants, and during that time he performed many other miracles. Afterwards he resumed the journey to Santa María degli Ángeli with Brother Leo and with a good man who lent him his little horse so that Saint Francis could ride on it. And it happened that, because of the bad roads and the extreme cold, having walked all day, they could not reach any place where they could stay. They were forced by night and bad weather to take shelter in a cave, to protect themselves from the snow and the night. – God often visits us, but most of the time we are not at home.

18 – Finding himself out in the open and poorly sheltered, the good man who owned the donkey, unable to sleep because of the cold and without the possibility of making a fire, began to lament and grumble within himself and cry, and almost murmured about Saint Francis, who had led him to that place. Then, Saint Francis, noticing him, had compassion for him, and with fervor of spirit he stretched out his hand over him and touched him. Admirable thing! As soon as he had touched him with his hand, scorched and pierced by the fire of the seraph, the cold completely disappeared, and he felt filled with so much heat inside and out, that it seemed to him that he was standing at the mouth of a burning furnace. – The age old struggle: the roar of the crowd on one side and the voice of conscience on the other.

19 – Thus, comforted in soul and body, the man surrendered to sleep, and, according to him, he slept that night among stones and snow until dawn more softly than he had ever slept in his own bed. The next day they continued their journey to Santa María degli Ángeli. When they were close, Brother Leo raised his eyes and looked towards the hermitage of Saint Mary. Then he saw a most beautiful cross, with the image of the Crucified, which was walking in front of Saint Francis, who was walking in front of him. – Knowing God is a question of opening one’s heart and loving God.

20 – That cross went in such a way before the face of Saint Francis that, when he stopped, it also stopped, and, when he walked, it walked; and its brilliance was such that it not only shone on the face of Saint Francis, but also illuminated the entire environment around it, and it remained until Saint Francis entered the hermitage of Saint Mary. – Religion is not a list of things to do but a person to be followed.

21 – Upon arriving at the hermitage, Saint Francis and Brother Leo were received by the brothers with great joy and charity. From then on, Saint Francis lived most of the time in the place of Saint Maris degli Angeli until his death. From day to day the fame of his holiness and his miracles spread more and more throughout the Order and the world, even though he, due to his profound humility, hid as much as he could the gifts and graces of God and proclaimed himself to be very great sinner. – What comes from the heart touches the heart.

22 – Brother Leo was surprised by this, and he began to think about his simplicity: This man calls himself a very great sinner in public. He entered the Order as an adult. God distinguishes him with so many favors.  Nevertheless, in secret he never confesses to carnal sin. Could he be a virgin? And a vehement desire came to him to know the truth about it, but he did not dare to ask Saint Francis; So he turned to God, begging him to assure him of what he wanted to know, and he deserved to be heard for his insistent prayer, and he received certainty that Saint Francis was truly a virgin in the body through the following vision: he saw Saint Francis sitting on a elevated and exalted place, to which no one could go or approach, and it was revealed to him that that lofty and singular place meant the height of virginal chastity in Saint Francis, as was appropriate for a flesh destined to be adorned with the sacred wounds of Christ. – All that we send into the lives of others, comes back into our own.

23 – Saint Francis seeing that, because of his wounds, his physical strength was gradually failing and that he could no longer continue to take care of the government of the Order, hastened the convocation of the general chapter. When he had gathered in full, he humbly apologized to the brothers for the impossibility in which he found himself of continuing to care for the Order as general minister, although he did not renounce the office of generalship. This, in fact, he could not do, because he had been appointed general by the pope, for which reason he could neither leave the office nor establish a successor without express permission from the pope. But he appointed brother Peter Cattani as his vicar. – God is much more anxious to communicate with us than we are to listen.

24 – Once this was done, Saint Francis, comforted in spirit, raised his eyes and hands to heaven and said:  To you, Lord and my God, I recommend this your family, which you have entrusted to me until now, and of which I can no longer continue taking care of myself due to my illnesses that you well know, my sweet Lord. I also recommend it to the provincial ministers. They will be obliged to report to you on the day of judgment if, due to their negligence, or their bad example, or their rigor in correcting, any brother is lost. – God dwells wherever we let Him in.

25 – God wanted all the brothers to realize that with those words he was referring to the wounds when excusing himself because of illness; and none could contain themselves without crying out of devotion. From then on he left all the care and government of the Order in the hands of his vicar and the provincial ministers; and he said: Now, having left the care of the Order because of my illnesses, I pray to God for our Order that I may give a good example to the brothers. And I know very well that, if weakness allowed me, the best service I could do to the Order would be to continually pray for it to God, so that He may govern, defend and preserve it. – The same fence that shuts others out, shuts us in.

26 – Even though, as has been said, Saint Francis tried, as far as he could, to hide the most sacred wounds and always walked, from the moment he received them, with his hands bandaged and his feet shod, he could not prevent many brothers from seeing them. They could see and touch them in different ways, especially the wound on his side, which he tried to hide with greater care. Thus, a brother who assisted him once induced him, with a pious trick, to take off his habit to shake off the dust; and, as he took it off in front of him, the brother clearly saw the wound on his side, and, quickly passing his hand over his chest, he touched it with three fingers, being able to measure its greatness and dimensions. – Hope is putting faith in work, when doubting would be easier.

27 – His vicar also looked at that time. But Brother Rufino verified it even more clearly, who was a man of great contemplation. Saint Francis even said about him that there was no one in the world holier than him. Because of his great holiness, he professed an intimate love for him and pleased him with everything he desired. – Where the human spirit fails, the Holy Spirit fills.

28 – This brother Rufino was able to verify and assure others in three ways about the truth of the wounds, and especially the one on the side. The first was that, having to wash his pants, which Saint Francis wore so big that he could stretch them at the top until covering the sore on the right side, Brother Rufino looked at them and observed them attentively, and always found them bloody on the right side, with which he realized with certainty that it was blood flowing from that wound. – If God loves us as much as we love God, where would we all be?

29 – Therefore, when Saint Francis saw that he spread his pants to observe that footprint, he reprimanded him. The second occasion was once when Brother Rufino was rubbing the back of Saint Francis. He intentionally took his hand and put his fingers on the sore on his side. Saint Francis then gave a cry of pain and said: God forgive you, brother Rufino. Why did you do that? – Without love and compassion for others , our own apparent love for Christ is fiction.

30 – The third occasion was the time when he asked Saint Francis, with great insistence and as a particular grace, to give him his habit and keep his out of love of charity. Condescending, although not willingly, to such a request, the charitable Father took off his habit, gave it to him, and put on his. With that taking off and putting on, brother Rufino clearly saw the wound. Likewise, brother Leo and many other brothers saw the wounds of Saint Francis while he lived. And although these brothers, due to their holiness, were men worthy of giving faith and credit to their word, yet, to remove all doubt in their hearts, they swore on the holy book that they had seen them clearly. – Faithfulness in little things is a big thing.

31 – Some cardinals who treated him with great familiarity also saw them, and, in veneration of the wounds of Saint Francis, they composed beautiful and devout hymns, antiphons and prose. The Supreme Pontiff, Pope Alexander, preaching to the people before all the cardinals, among whom was the holy brother Bonaventure, who was a cardinal, said and affirmed that he had seen with his own eyes the sacred wounds of Saint Francis when he still lived. – Nothing here below is profane for those who know how to see. On the contrary, everything is sacred.

 

 

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