Fr. Francis Reflections for April 2018

April 2018

 

Our Father most holy: Our Creator, Redeemer, Consoler, and Savior…

You, Lord, are Supreme Good, the eternal Good, from Whom all good comes…

Holy be your Name…That You may rule in us through Your grace…

Your will be done…that we may love You…with our whole heart…soul…and mind…

Give us this day…Your own beloved Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.

Forgive us…through Your ineffable mercy…and make us, Lord, forgive completely.

And lead us not into temptation. But deliver us from evil.

Amen

(Prayer Inspired  by the Our Father – abbreviated)

Daily excerpts from life of St. Francis and Thought for the Day from various sources

1

Once there was a great war between the citizens of Perugia and Assisi. Francis was captured … and …endured the squalor of prison.  His fellow captives were overcome with sadness … but Francis rejoiced in the Lord – Anyone can stand up to an opponent: give me someone who can stand up to a friend.

2

Though staying in a pit and in darkness, he was imbued with an indescribable happiness never before experienced. – I may have all the faith needed to move mountains, but if I have no love, I am nothing.

3

He rose therefore swift, energetic and joyful, carrying the shield of faith for the Lord, and strengthened with the armor of great confidence, he set out for the city. – We get no deeper into Christ than we allow him to get in us.

4

Though delighting for the most part (in his dream), he silently wondered to himself about its meaning…With a happy spirit he awoke the next morning…Considering his vision a prediction of great success… – The Gospels do not explain Easter; Easter explains the Gospels.

5

When morning came, then, he returned in haste to Assisi, free of care and filled with joy, and, already made an exemplar of obedience, he awaited the Lord’s will. – The lives of Jesus’ followers changed the course of human history. No reasonable explanation has ever been given for their transformed lives except their own: they had see Jesus alive.

6

Saint Francis with his brothers rejoiced greatly at the task and the favor given by so great a father and lord.  They gave thanks to Almighty God, who places the lowly on high and raises up mourners to health. – That which you cannot let go of, you do not possess.  It possesses you.

7

They had great joy, because they saw nothing and had nothing that could give them empty or carnal delight…Only divine consolation delighted them, having put aside all their cares about earthly things. – One does not discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the shore.

8

This holy man insisted that spiritual joy was an infallible remedy against a thousand  snares and tricks of the enemy.  He used to say: ‘The devil is most delighted when he can steal the joy of spirit from a servant of God’- We can live forty days without food, eight minutes without air, but about one second without hope.

9

‘But if spiritual joy fills the heart, the serpent casts its poison in vain. The devils cannot harm a servant of Christ when they see him, filled with holy cheerfulness. – Our job is not to do something for the Church, but to do something with it.

10

The saint therefore always strove to keep a joyful heart, to preserve the anointing of the spirit and the oil of gladness. He avoided very carefully the dangerous disease of melancholy, so that when he felt even a little of it slipping into his heart, he quickly rushed to prayer- No one ever made more trouble than the “gentle Jesus, meek and mild.”

11

O martyr, laughing and rejoicing, who endured so gladly what was bitter and painful for others to see! – Sorrow looks back, worry looks around, faith looks up.

12

I see that (the devils) cannot harm me through myself.  Indeed whenever I feel tempted and depressed and I look at the joy of my companion, because of that joy I immediately turn away from temptation and melancholy toward inner and outer joy – The person who isn’t busy being born is busy dying.

13

By a joyful face he understood the fervor and solicitude, the disposition and readiness of a mind and body to willingly undertake every good work;  because through this kind of fervor and disposition others are motivated than through the good deed itself – We can’t understand the Holy Spirit, but we can understand the Spirit’s impact on our lives.

14

He did not want to see a gloomy face, which more often shows laziness, a closed mind, and a body listless for every good work. – I cannot change the whole world, but I can change a small part if it…myself.

15

It is not right for a servant of God to show himself  to others sad and upset, but always pleasant.  Deal with your offenses in your room, and weep and moan before your God. – God is already in our lives.  Our business is to recognize this.

16

Wherever the brothers may be and in whatever place they meet they should respect spiritually and attentively one another, and honor one another without complaining.  Let them be careful not to appear outwardly as sad and gloomy but show themselves joyful, cheerful and consistently gracious in the Lord. –Blessed are they who place themselves in the hands of Jesus.  He will place himself in their hands.

17

They (the brothers) walked with joy wherever they went, speaking among themselves about the words of the Lord, and saying nothing among themselves which did not serve the glory and praise of God, and the good of the soul. – What we usually pray to God is not that his will be done, but that he approve ours.

18

When they laughed, they were filled with happiness and spiritual joy, so that they no longer remembered the adversities they experienced- How else but through a broken heart may the Lord Christ enter in?

19

Whether  ill or in good health they (the brothers) were always joyful and patient. – Only when we learn to see the invisible, will we learn to do the impossible.

20

They were always joyful in the Lord, having nothing within them or among them that could in some way bring them sadness – The effect of our sharing in the body and blood of Christ is to change us into what we receive.

21

Blessed is that religious who has no pleasure and joy except in the most holy words and deeds of the Lord and, with these, leads people to the love of God with gladness and joy. – Nature does not know extinction.  All it knows is transformation.

22

He himself felt great joy in the Lord when he heard the words of Sacred Scripture. – Often the “god” that people reject is not the true God, but a mistaken notion of God that exists only in their minds.

23

If a servant of God always strives to have and preserve internally and externally the spiritual joy that proceeds from purity of heart and is acquired through the devotion of prayer, the evils could do him no harm. – Lord, help us to deal with ugly situations in a beautiful way.

24

Because spiritual joy springs from integrity of heart and the purity of constant prayer, it must be your primary concern to acquire and preserve these two virtues, to possess internal, as well as external joy. – To be ignorant of the scriptures is to be ignorant of Christ.

25

Whenever he used to say your name, O holy Lord, he was moved in a way beyond human understanding.  He was so wholly taken up in joy, filled with pure delight, that he truly seemed a new person of another age. – Jesus came not to eradicate suffering, but to fill it with his presence.

26

Sometimes he used to do this: a sweet melody of the spirit bubbling up inside him would become a French tune on the outside; the thread of a divine whisper which his ears heard secretly would break out in French song of joy. – The old law about “an eye for an eye” leaves everybody blind.

27

(The thieves) beat him and threw him into a ditch filled with snow, saying, ‘Lie there, you stupid herald of God!’… He jumped out of the ditch, and exhilarated with a great joy, he began in an even  louder voice to make the woods resound with praises to the Creator of all. – The living Christ still has two hands, one to point the way, and the other held out to help us along the way.

28

Where there is poverty with joy, there is neither greed nor avarice. – If Christ were standing before me now, what would I feel, not about him, but about myself?

29

(Saint Francis dying, said to Brother Elias) ‘Allow me to rejoice in the Lord, Brother, and to sing His praises in my infirmities, because, by the grace of the Holy Spirit, I am so closely united and joined with my Lord, that, through His mercy, I can well rejoice in the Most High Himself.’ – The goal of religion is not to get us into heaven, but to get heaven into us.

30

(As Saint Francis lay dying the guardian) took the tunic with a cord and underwear, and offered them to the little poor man of Christ, saying: ‘I am lending these to you as to a poor man, and you are to keep them with the command of holy obedience. At this the holy man rejoiced and was delighted in the gladness of his heart, because he saw that he had kept faith until the end with Lady Poverty. – You cannot have God for your Father, if you don’t have the Church for your mother.

 

 

March 2018 – Daily Reflections by Father Francis

March 2018

Wherever we are, in every place, at every hour, at every time of the day, every day and continually, let all of us truly and humbly believe, hold in our heart and love, honor, adore, serve, praise and bless, glorify and exalt, magnify and give thanks to the Most High and Supreme Eternal God, Trinity and Unity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Creator of all, Savior of all who believe and hope in Him, and love Him, Who, 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 for ever. Amen.

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

Month of Saint Joseph completes Holy Season of Lent.

Excerpts and Daily Reflections are taken from various sources

 

1

Blessed Francis had such reverence and devotion for the Body of Christ, that he wanted it written in the Rule that the brothers in the regions where they stay have care and concern, and should preach to the people, and admonish the clerics and priests to place the Body of Christ in a good and fitting place. – Christianity is not an opinion. Christianity is Christ!

2

(Blessed Francis) wanted to send some brothers with pyxes through every region and wherever they found the Body of Christ placed illicitly, they were to place It honorably in them. – Christianity is a person, a living person!  To meet Jesus, to love him and make him loved: This is the Christian vocation.

3

Blessed Francis had such reverence and devotion for the Body of Christ … that he wanted to send (other brothers) with beautiful wafer irons for making hosts at all times. – We have greater need for the Gospel if we are to walk in the ways of truth, freedom, justice, and peace. (adapted)

4

Blessed Francis sent brothers through the regions to preach penance … – We need the Gospel to know God and ourselves, and to nurture a sense of dignity and respect for the value of life, redeemed by Christ’s sacrifice.  (adapted)

5

Go, in the name of the Lord, two by two along the way, decently, in the greatest silence from dawn until after terce, praying to the Lord in your hearts. And let no idle or useless words be mentioned among you … – The law of Christian life is to be found not in a written code, but in the personal action of the Holy Spirit, who inspires and guides the Christian.

6

Although you are traveling, nevertheless, let your behavior be as decent as if you were staying in a hermitage or a cell because wherever we are or wherever we travel, we have a cell with us. – To pray means to be spiritually immersed in God, in an attitude of humble cohesion to his will.

7

Brother Body is our cell, and the soul is the hermit who remains inside the cell to pray to God and meditate. – As Christians, we live by faith and in hope.

8

So if the soul does not remain in quiet and solitude in its cell, a cell made by hands does little good to a religious. – God has given us a moral law to guide and protect us from falling back into the slavery of sin and falsehood. The Ten Commandments are the charter of true freedom for individuals as well as for society as a whole.

9

I must be a model and example to all the brothers… so that the brothers may be able to bear their trials more patiently when they hear that I am also undergoing the same thing. – We are called to live the Gospel with total fidelity.

10

In the name of the Lord and His Mother and all the saints, I choose the region of France, especially among the Catholics of the holy Church, they show great reverence to the Body of Christ, which pleases me very much.- We cannot forgive if we do not let God forgive us first.

11

I tell you in truth that the Lord chose and sent the brothers for the benefit and salvation of the souls of all people in the whole world and they should be received not only in the land of believers, but also in that of non-believers. – We are the object of God’s mercy.

12

As long as (the brothers) observe what they promised the Lord, the Lord will minister to them in the land of non-believers as well as in the countries of believers. – We will be ready to forgive the debts of others only if we become aware of the enormous debt that we ourselves have been forgiven.

13

The Lord Bishop (of Florence) marveled at his words and admitted that he spoke the truth.  But the Lord Bishop did not allow (blessed Francis) to go to France.  Instead blessed Francis sent Brother Pacifico there with other brothers, and he returned to the Spoleto Valley. – Life is more than material development; it needs a soul and the wisdom and courage to overcome moral ills and spiritual temptations.  (adapted)

14

Blessed Francis said to his companions … It seems to me that I am not a Lesser Brother unless I am just as happy when they insult me, as when they honor me, if in both cases the benefit to them is equal.- To return to dust is common to humans and animals alike, however, humans are not just flesh but also spirit, thus humans are destined for immortality.  (adapted)

15

If I am happy about their benefit and devotion when they praise and honor me, which can be a danger to the soul, it is even more fitting that I should rejoice and be happy at my benefit and the salvation of my soul when they revile me as they throw me out in shame, which is profit for the soul and for salvation. – Our Father! Let us repeat this pray often during Lent; let us repeat it with deep emotion.

16

One day, when blessed Francis was returning from prayer, he said with great joy to his companions: I must be the form and example of all the brothers; so, although it is necessary for my body to have a tunic with patches, nevertheless I must take into consideration my brothers who have the same need, but perhaps do not and cannot have this. – By calling God ‘our Father’, we will better realize that we are his children and feel that we are brothers and sisters of one another.

17

Therefore, I must stay down with them to suffer those same necessities they suffer so that in seeing this, they may be able to bear them more patiently. – Do not be afraid to take up the challenge of making Christ known in the modern ‘metropolis’.

18

At all times, especially after the brothers began to multiply and he resigned the office of prelate, blessed Francis had as his highest and principle goal to teach the brothers more by actions than by words, what they ought to do and what they ought to avoid. – It is you who must ‘go out into the byroads and invite everyone you meet to the banquet which God has prepared for his people.

19

Noticing and hearing at one time that some brothers were giving a bad example in religion and that the brothers were turning aside from the highest summit of their profession, moved inwardly with sorrow, one time he said to the Lord in praeyer: Lord I give back to you the family you gave me. – To St. Joseph, the husband of Mary, God entrusted the safekeeping of the Eternal Word, made man by the power of the Holy Spirit in the womb of the Virgin Mary.  For all believers he is a model of life in faith.

20

And the Lord said to him in spirit: Tell me, why are you upset when one of the brothers leaves the religion and when others do not walk the way I showed you?  Also tell me: Who planted the religion of the brothers? Who makes a man convert and to do penance in it?  Who gives the strength to persevere in it?  Is it not I? – Number 22-23; Psalm 80; Acts 15: 22-41- As never before man’s gaze is open to the wonders of the universe. And the marvel of it all is a constant call to ponder ever more seriously the greatess of man’s own destiny and his dependence upon the Creator.

21

And it was said to him in spirit: I did not choose you as a learned or eloquent man to be over my family, but I chose you, a simple man, so that you and the others may know that I will watch over my flock. – Be rooted in faith and feel strong in the Lord and in the strengthn of his might.  (adapted)

22

I have placed you as a sign to them, so that the works that I work in you, they should see in you, emulate and do them. – Jesus’ victory over the evil one assures us that we will not succumb at the moment of trial as long as we remain united to the Lord.

23

Those who walk in my way have and will then have more abundantly; while those who refuse to walk in my way, that which they seem to have will be taken away from them. – Lent invites us to make a special commitment to the process of spiritual growth.

24

Therefore, I tell you, don’t be sad; do what you do, work as you work, for I have planted the religion of the brothers in everlasting love. Know that I love it so much that if any brother…dies outside religion I will replace him with another in religion who will have his crown in his place … – Responding to God’s voice resounding in the depths of our conscience and choosing good is the most sublime use of human freedom.  (adapted)

25

Blessed Francis often said to the brothers in chapters and also in his words of instruction: I have sworn and declared to observe the Rule of the brothers and all the brothers also pledged the same.  For this reason, after I resigned office among the brothers from now on, because of illnesses and for the greater good of my soul and those of all the brothers, I am bound in regard to the brothers only to show good example. – The Annunciation celebrates Eternal Love made flesh, so that the creature might share Life with its Creator.

26

The greatest help I can render to the religion of the brothers is to spend time in prayer to the Lord for it everyday, that He govern, preserve, protect, and defend it… – God is not just mercy, but above all love.  (adapted)

27

I have pledged myself to this, to the Lord and to the brothers, that if any one of the brothers persihes because of my bad example, I be held to render an account to the Lord. – To follow Christ in doing the will of the Father is the key to the fullness of life which he promises.  (adapted)

28

The brothers have their Rule, and furthermore have sworn to it. And so they have no excuse … So, since the brothers already know what they should do and what to avoid, the only thing left for me to do is to teach them by actions, because this is why I have been given to them during my life and after my death. – After having drawn the light of the word and the strength of the sacraments, the faithful must announce and testify Christ, the only Redeemer of humanity, in the society to which the belong.

29

One day when blessed Francis met a poor man, he said: I am greatly ashamed when I find someone poorer than myself.  I chose holy poverty as my Lady, my delight, and my riches of spirit and body.  And the whole world has heard this news, that I professed poverty before God and people.  Therefore I ought to be ashamed when I come upon someone poorer than myself. – The Ten Commandments are not an arbitrary imposition of a tyrannical Lord.  They were written first on the human heart as the universal moral law, valid in every time and place, before they were written in stone.

30

Blessed Francis said: For my part, I want only this privilege from the Lord: not to have any privilge from any human being, except to show reverence to all, and, by the obedience of the holy Rule, to convert everyone more by example than by word. – Every genuine human love is a reflection of the love that is God himself, to the point where : ‘The man without love has known nothing of God’.

31

Blessed Francis used to say: Nothing should displease a servant of God except sin … The servant of God who does not become angry or disturbed at anyone lives correctly without anything of his own … Woe to that religious who does not hold in his heart the good things the Lord reveals to him and does not reveal them by his behavior, but, under the guise of a reward, wishes to reveal them with his words. – The people of God cannot hope to live the life of their Master if they do not assimilate the very words which have been passed on to them.

 

February 2018 Daily Reflections from Father Francis

February 2018

Let every creature in heaven, on earth, in the sea and in the depths,
give praise, glory, honor and blessing to Him Who suffered so much,
Who has given and will give in the future every good, for He is our power and strength,
Who alone is good, Who alone is almighty,
Who alone is omnipotent, wonderful, glorious and Who alone is holy,
worthy of praise and blessing through endless ages.

Amen.

(Prayer of Saint Francis in the Second Version of the Letter to the Faithful)
Excerpts and daily reflections are taken from various sources

1
Francis began to say: Even a perfect religious very often sins in ignorance. Consequently if he does not realize his sin, he is punished … so that he may see and carefully reflect internally and externally … how he may have offended.- Do not be afraid!  Open, indeed, open wide the doors to Christ!

2
In this life the Lord leaves nothing unpunished in those whom He loves tenderly … Indeed the Lord in His mercy granted me this gift.  He makes me understand through prayer any way in which I please or displease Him. – With humility and trust I beg and implore you, allow Christ to speak to the person in you.

3
I am bound always to give good example; because I was given to them (the brothers), especially for this. When they hear that I am carrying the same trials they endure they endure theirs with greater patience. – Everything within us urges us to transcend ourselves, to overcome the temptation of superficiality or despair.

4
Blessed Francis was always sickly … He nevertheless considered that he should show a good example to the brothers and always take away from them any occasion for complaining about him… – Left to ourselves we could never achieve the ends for which we have been created.

5
Whether he was healthy or sick, until the day of his death, he wanted to endure so much need, that if any of the brothers who knew this, as we did … they would bear them (their needs) with greater patience. – Within us there is a promise which we find are incapable of attaining.  But the Son of God who came among us has given us his personal assurance.

6
He was so devout and prayed with such reverence, that during times of prayer, he refused to lean against a wall or partition, but always stood erect, without capuche over his head, and sometimes on his knees, especially when he spent greater part of the day and night in prayer. – In the mysetry of his cross and resurrection, Christ has … bridged the infinite distance that separates all people from new life in him.

7
If the body wants to eat its food in peace and quiet, and both it and the body eventually will become food for worms, in what peace and quiet should the soul receive its food, which is God Himself! – Faith cannot be be only cold hard facts calculated and weighed by our intellect. No, faith must be quickened by love.

8
The devil is delighted when he can extinguish or prevent devotion and joy in the heart of a servant of God which spring from clean prayer and other good works. – Faith must come alive through the good works which reveal God’s truth in us.

9
If the devil can have something of his own in a servant of God, he will in a short time make a single hair into a beam, always making it bigger… – Being a Christian must mean being a witness for Christ.

10
(The devil will do as he wishes) unless the servant of God is wise, removing and destroying (whatever the devil has planted) as quickly as possible by means of contrition, confession, and works of satisfaction. – Love of neighbor springs from a loving heart.

11
Blessed Francis had this as his greatest and main goal: he was always careful to have and preserve in himself spiritual joy internally and externally… – Peace is our duty, our grave duty, our supreme responsibility.

12
If I am tempted and depressed and I look at the joy of my companion, because of that joy I turn from the temptation and depression and toward inner and outer joy. – If you want peace, reach out to the poor.

13
The first brothers and those who came after them for a long time mortified their bodies excessively, not only by abstinence in food and drink, but also in vigils, cold, and manual labor. – The family has the mission to guard, reveal and communicate love.

14
The abbot of Saint Benedict of Monte Subasio granted blessed Francis and his brothers the Church of Saint Mary of the Portiuncula as the poorest little church they had.  And he wanted that, if the Lord increased the brothers, it be the head of the whole religion.  And blessed Francis granted this. – Man cannot live without love.

15
And he (Francis) was overjoyed at the place granted the brothers … and because of the surname it had, for it was surnamed: ‘of the Portiuncula’… This name foreshadowed that it was to be the mother and head of the poor Lesser Brothers. – The one who wishes to understand him/herself thoroughly, must with his unrest, uncertainty and even his weakness and sinfulness, with his life and death, draw near to Christ.

16
Francis said: For this church was a prophecy that has been fulfilled in the coming of the Lesser Brothers. And although it is poor and almost in ruins for a long time, the people of the city of Assisi and its neighborhood had always held it in great devotion. – We are called to become a temple for the Blessed Trinity.

17
He wanted the church to be under the ordinance of the general who would place a holy family there, cleric brothers and lay brothers who would serve them, and he wanted the place to be kept especially pure and holy in hymns and praises of the Lord. – The God of all wants to enter into communion with us.

18
I want this place to be a mirror and a good example for the entire religion, a candelabra before the throne of God and before the blessed Virgin.  Thus may the Lord have mercy on the faults and failings of the brothers and always preserve and protect this religion, His little plant. – Wherever people are praying in the world, there the Holy Spirit is, the living breath of prayer.

19
And so, through God’s example, he did not want to have a house or cell in this world, nor did he have one built for himself.  Moreover, if he happened to say to the brothers: Prepare this cell this way, he would refuse afterwards to stay in it, because of that saying of the holy Gospel: Do not be concerned. – Prayer is a revelation of that … depth which comes from God and which only God can fill, precisely with the Holy Spirit.

20
He used to say: From the beginning of my conversion, when I separated myself from the world and father in the flesh, the Lord put His word in the mouth of the bishop of Assisi so he could counsel me well in the service of Christ and comfort me.  Therefore, as well as the greater excellence that I consider in prelates and in clerics, not only in bishops, but in poor priests as well, I want to love them, revere them and regard them as my lords. – God calls me and sends me forth as a laborer in his vineyard.

21
After receiving the bishop’s blessing … they (the brothers) may have poor little houses built of mud and wood, and some little cells where the brothers can sometimes pray and where, for their own greater decency and also to avoid idle words, they can work. – Every one of us God called by name.

22
Brother Francis had Brother Benedict of Piratro, who celebrated for him, called, since, although he was sick, he always wanted gladly and devoutly, to hear Mass whenever he was able.  And when he had come, blessed Francis told him: Write that I bless all my brothers, those who are and who will be in the religion until the end of the world. – From eternity God has thought of us and has loved us as unique individuals.

23
(Francis) used to go through the villages and churches in the area around the city of Assisi, proclaiming and preaching to the people that they should do penance.  And he would carry a broom to sweep the churches.  For blessed Francis was very sad when he entered some church and saw that it was not clean. – The fundamental and continuous attitude of the disciple would be one of vigilance and a conscious attentiveness to the voice of God.

24
After preaching to the people, at the end of the sermon he would always have all the priests who were present assembled in some remote place so he could not be overheard by the people.  He would preach to them about the salvation of souls and, in particular, that they should exercise care and concern in keeping churches clean, as well as altars and everything that pertained to the celebration of the divine mysteries. – Human life is not limited to the time spent on earth but is wholly directed to perfect joy and fullness of joy in the hereafter.

25
(To a family saddened that their son and brother wanted to enter the Order, blessed Francis said): This son of yours wants to serve God and you should be glad and not sad about this.  This will be counted an honor and advantage to the world, because God will be honored by your own flesh and blood, and all our brothers will be your sons and brothers… – Earthly suffering, when accepted in love, is like a bitter kernel containing the seed of new life, the treasure of divine glory to be given man in eternity.

26
(Francis continued): Because he is a creature of God and wishes to serve his Creator, and to serve Him is to reign, I cannot and should not return him to you.  But in order that you may have some consolation from all this, I want him to expropriate himself of this ox by giving it to you, although, according to the counsel of the holy Gospel, it ought to be given to other poor people.- We are called to entrust our lives completely to our providential God.

27
When blessed Francis remained alone one night to pray in the Church of Saint Peter of Bovaria, near the leper hospital of Trebio, he felt a diabolical illusion.  He got up and signing himself said: On behalf of Almighty God, I tell you, demons, you may do in my body whatever God told you. – Being a follower of Christ means becoming conformed to him who became a servant even to giving himself on the cross.

28
Brother Peter, (Francis’) companion, saw in the church that throne that had been Lucifer’s, so that the response to him was that it was reserved for blessed Francis – Let us rejoice and give thanks for (in Baptism) we have become not only Christians, but Christ … Marvel and rejoice: We have become Christ!

Reflections from Father Sariego, OFM Cap – January, 2018

January 2018

 

Lord, just as I believe that at an earlier time

(I may have been sinful and not fully open to Your will)

so now I realize that, because of Your abundant mercy

and in Your own time, You have shown an abundance of Your mercies to (me)…

Give glory to Your name,

(may I) offer the fragrance of good life, doctrine, and good reputation

to the whole Christian people.

I ask you therefore, Lord Jesus Christ, Father of mercies,

not to consider our ingratitude.

May (I) always be mindful of the abundant mercies which you have shown (me),

that (I) may always … glorify Your name blessed and glorious throughout the ages.

Amen.

(Paraphrase [in parenthesis] of the blessing of Saint Francis for the City of Assisi)

The month of January celebrates The Holy Childhood of Jesus.

Excerpts and Daily reflections are taken from various sources

1

Blessed Francis held that to beg for alms for the love of the lord God was of the greatest nobility, dignity, and courtesy before God and before this world … blessed Francis would say that a servant of God must beg alms for the love of God with greater freedom and joy …  – In order to love Jesus, we must offer to others the gift of ourselves.

2

I must be a model to your poor.  Especially because I know that in the life and religion of the brothers there are and will be Lesser Brothers, in name and in deed, humble in all things, obedient and of service to their brothers. – It is only in the giving of ourselves through charity, service and compassion that we can experience true joy.

3

At…Rivo Torto, there was a brother…who prayed little, did not work, and did not want to go for alms…blessed Francis…told him:  Go on your way, Brother Fly, because you want to feed on the labor of your brothers, but wish to be idle in the work of God…he went away…and did not ask for mercy.  – Suffering is transformed and elevated when, in those moments, we become aware of God’s closeness and solidarity.

4

When blessed Francis lay gravely ill…he often asked his companions during the day to sing the Praises of the Lord which he had composed a long time before his illness.- There is something of the apostle Thomas in every human being.  Each one is tempted by unbelief.

5

(Blessed Francis said to Brother Elias) Allow me to rejoice in the Lord, Brother, and to sing His praises in my infirmities, because, by the grace of the Holy Spirit, I am closely united and joined with my Lord, through His mercy, I can well rejoice in the Most High Himself.   – We have to open our eyes and our heart to the light of the Holy Spirit.

6

Blessed Francis did not want to address anyone called ‘Good’ by their name, out of reverence for the Lord, who said: No one is good but God alone.  – May every family truly rediscover its own vocation to love!

7

(Blessed Francis) did not want to call anyone ‘father’ or ‘master’, nor write them in letters, out of reverence for the Lord who said:  Call no one on earth your father nor be called masters, etc.  – Do not separate your faith from your daily life and your daily life from your faith, as so many people do today.

8

(Blessed Francis said to the doctor): Tell me the truth. How does it look to you?  Do not be afraid, for, by the grace of God, I am not a coward who fears death…- The life and the whole being of each Christian must be unified around a central axis: fidelity to Jesus Christ.

9

With the Lord’s help, by His mercy and grace, I am so united and joined with my Lord that I am equally as happy to die as I am to live – In every circumstance, the starting point is to intensify prayer (in order) to increase one’s faith and make it more vigorous.

10

At the beginning of the religion, when blessed Francis would go with a brother who was one of the first twelve brothers, that brother would greet men and women along the way as well as those in their field, saying: May the Lord give you peace.  – God alone is our true and unfailing support.

11

Blessed Francis instructed all the brothers … that they should not abandon holy and devout prayer. Going for alms, and working with hands like the other brothers, for good example and for the benefit of their souls as well as others – Love and prayer are the only sure spiritual levers with which it is possible to lift up the world.

12

(Blessed Francis said): The brothers who are subjects are very edified when their ministers and preachers devote themselves freely to prayer; and the subjects are inclined to humility, when they see the prelates and the greater ones co-operating in their enterprises and labors.  – We are all called to live a life of holiness.

13

That faithful disciple and imitator of Christ (Blessed Francis), while he was in good health, practiced what he taught the brothers. – In baptism God has chosen each one of us ‘to be holy and spotless and to live through love in his presence’.

14

From the time of his conversion till the day of his death, blessed Francis, whether healthy or sick, was always concerned to know and follow the will of the Lord.  – The Holy Spirit makes man realize his own evil and at the same time directs him toward what is good.

15

Blessed Francis praised God with great fervor of spirit and joy of body and soul, and told (the brother who informed him of his terminal condition): If I am to die soon, call Brother Angelo and Brother Leo that they may sing to me about Sister death.  – Thanks to the multiplicity of the Spirit’s gifts, every kind of human sin can be reached by God’s saving power.

16

From the beginning of his conversion blessed Francis, with God’s help, like a wise man, established himself and his house, that is, the religion, on a firm rock, the greatest humility and poverty of the Son of God, calling it the religion of ‘Lesser Brothers’- Love nothing more than Christ who reveals to the world the mystery of divine love and true human dignity.

17

After the brothers grew in number, he wanted the brothers to stay in hospitals of lepers to serve them…whenever nobles and commoners came to the religion, they were told, among other things, that they had to serve the lepers and stay in their houses. – True relationships are rich in inner depth, gratuitousness, and self-sacrifice.

18

Let the brothers remain as strangers and pilgrims in the houses in which they stay.  Let them not seek to have anything under heaven, except holy poverty, by which, in this world, they are nourished by God with bodily food and virtue, and, in the next, will attain a heavenly inheritance.  – Love Christ present in those burdened by illness.

19

The bishop (of Terni) said: …God has beautified his Church with this little poor man, lowly, unlettered…And because of this you should live and honor the Lord and avoid sin for He has done thus for every nation.  – Call with faith on the name of Jesus (and experience the power that flows from that Name).

20

Blessed Francis bowed down before the Lord Bishop and fell down at his feet, saying to him … (People) attribute glory and holiness to the creature, not to the Creator.  You, however, like a discerning man, have separated what is precious from what is vile.  – Provided that we approach the word of God and listen to it as it really is, it brings us into contact with God himself.

21

If at any moment the Lord wanted to take back the treasure He has loaned to me, what would I have left except just body and soul, which even non-believers have?  – The word of God brings us into contact with Christ, the Word of God, the Truth, who is at the same time both the Way and the Life.

22

I must believe, rather, that if the Lord had granted a thief and even a non-believer as many gifts as He has given me, they would be more faithful to the Lord than I.  – The Holy Spirit is the author of our sanctification.

23

… a servant of God … must not attribute anything to himself, but give all honor and glory to God.  He should not attribute anything to himself while he is alive except shame and trouble, because, while he is alive, the flesh is always opposed to God’s gifts.  – The Holy Spirit transforms us deep down, divinizes us, makes us participants in divine nature, just as fire makes metal incandescent, just as spring water quenches thirst.

24

A few years after his conversion he resigned the office of prelate (superior) before all the brothers during a chapter held at Saint Mary of the Portiuncula.  From now on, he said, I am dead to you.  But here is Brother Peter di Catanio: let us all, you and I, obey him. – Christians need reconciliation with one another; we need mutual forgiveness.

25

I want you to put one of my companions in your place regarding me, so that I may obey him as I would obey you.  For the sake of good example and the virtue of obedience, in life and in death I always want you to be with me.  – (We should not be afraid) of openly and courageously expressing our faith in Christ in our daily lives, especially in works of charity and solidarity with those who are in need.

26

Among other favors, the Most High has given me this grace: I would obey a novice who entered our religion today, if he were appointed my guardian, just as readily as I would obey him who is the first and the eldest in the life and religion of the brothers. –  Be men and women of integrity and sound moral character worthy of the respect and trust we seek from others.

27

A subject should not consider his prelate, a human being, but God, for love of Whom he is subject to him… But the Most High gave me this grace: that I want to be content with all, as one who is lesser in the religion.  – We must enrich the world not only by the gifts God has entrusted to us, but also by our goodness.

28

Frequently, when some of the brothers did not provide for his needs, or said something to him that would ordinarily offend a person, he would immediately go to prayer.  On returning, he did not want to remember it …  – The first step in evangelization is to accept the grace of conversion into our own minds and hearts, to let ourselves be reconciled to God.

29

The closer he approached death, the more careful in complete perfection he became in considering how he might live and die in complete humility and poverty.  –  Our relationship with God demands times of explicit prayer, in which the relationship becomes an intense dialogue, involving every dimension of who we are.

30

A few years after he began to have brothers, (Clare) was converted to the Lord through his advice…Her conversion not only greatly edified the religion of the brothers, but also the entire Church of God. –  O Lord of life, when the moment of our definitive ‘passage’ comes,  grant that we may face it with serenity, without regret for what we shall leave behind.

31

Saturday evening before nightfall, after vespers, when blessed Francis passed to the Lord, many birds called larks flew low above then roof of the house where blessed Francis lay, wheeling in a circle and singing.  We, who were with blessed Francis, have written about this … – Jesus asks us to follow him and to imitate him along the path of love, a love which gives itself completely to the brethren out of love for God.

 

 

Father Francis' Reflections for December 2017

All-powerful God, everlasting, just and good, of ourselves we are nothing but poverty; but grant, for your own sake, that we may do what we know is your will, and always desire what is pleasing to you…Amen. Let us desire nothing else, let us wish for nothing else, let nothing else please us and cause us delight, except our Creator and redeemer and Savior, the one true God, Who is fullness of Good, all Good, every Good, the true and Supreme Good, Who alone is merciful and gentle, delectable and sweet, Who alone is holy, just and true, holy and right, Who alone is kind, innocent, pure, from Whom and through Whom and in Whom is all pardon, all grace, all glory … Therefore, let nothing hinder us, nothing separate us or come between us. Let us all, wherever we are … Glorify and exalt, magnify and give thanks to the Most High and supreme eternal God ..

Amen.

(Saint Francis of Assisi) 

 

Following are daily excerpts taken from various Franciscan writings

Daily meditative phrases from various sources

 

1

His sermons were not vain and shallow but they were filled with them power of the holy Spirit (Major Legend,chpt.2) – God’s mercy, if we only let him take over, will take us much farther and higher than our own scant justice.

2

He began to preach all over with great commitment and assurance.  He did not have recourse to reasoning founded on human wisdom, but based his teachings on the doctrine and virtue of the Holy Spirit, faithfully proclaiming the kingdom of God (Three Companions,chpt.54) – God’s predilection for the humblest and lowest emphasizes the point that he likes to make of upsetting men’s calculations and betraying expectations based on rank, merit, age or tradition.

3

His style was not as one preaching but as one who is conversing…he spoke clearly and respectably (Thomas of Spalato) – Self-reliance will get us nowhere…the whole process is better looked after when placed in he hands of God than when held tight in our grip as though we were bent on seeing it through at all costs by ourselves. » Click to continue reading “Father Francis’ Reflections for December 2017” »

Father Francis' Reflections for November 2017

November 2017

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.

Amen.

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

 

The month of November celebrates Life Everlasting of those in God’s Glory and those in God’s Mercy.

Daily reflections are taken from various sources

1

(St. Francis) did indeed come down from where the sun rises, as, ever rising from strength to strength, following the deeds of Christ as he grew in his humanity, he configured his holy way of living to the life of Christ. – We were made for heaven. The Christian life means journeying here below with our hearts turned upwards, toward our heavenly Father’s house.

2

This reached the high point of his carrying the seal of the living God; he lived to become worthy to have on his body the imprints of the wounds of the Crucified. – Pray fervently for the dead, for their family members, and for all our brothers and sisters who have died, that they may obtain the remission of the punishments due to their sins and may hear the Lord’s call.

3

Now, as to Christ’s life itself, an attentive survey of the gospels will reveal its salient features, its most striking notes: the crucifixion, the profound humility, the extreme poverty, the fervor of charity shown by desiring our salvation in undergoing the torment of the cross, as well as by the sheer graciousness of His stooping to compassionate sinners and the afflicted. – The ‘little ones’ according to the gospel are those who know they are God’s creatures and shun all presumption. They expect everything from the Lord and so are never disappointed.

4

Yet the crowning perfection of Christ’s life lay in His interior cultivation and consummation of divine charity.  In one continuous act, on His own behalf and that of all His members, He duly paid the service of worship to the divinity, to which in His own person He was united. – This is the basic attitude of the believer: Faith and humility are inseparable.

5

The fact is that the Blessed Jesus, virginal Son born of virginity, saw fit to transfuse purity into (Francis), since complete cleanness cannot live in tainted flesh without a continuous crucifixion of self. That is why the most pious Jesus…afflicted His own sacred flesh…Francis, his true son and imitator, taking this to heart, disciplined himself so rigidly… – Justice and peace are not abstract concepts or remote ideals. They are values that dwell in the heart of every individual.

6

So, he called his frail body an ‘ass’, gave it endless hard work to do, provided it with coarse coverings and a bed of straw, and fed it with small amounts of inferior fare. – Individuals, families, communities, and nations, all are called to live in justice and to work for peace. No one can claim exemption from this responsibility.

7

In order to achieve full purity of heart he completely abstained from all familiarity which might inwardly defile him and give bad example to others. – Freedom is not only the choice for one or another particular action; it is also, within that choice, a decision about oneself and a setting of one’s own life for or against the good, for or against the truth, and ultimately for or against God.

8

He had become so candid in mind, so clean in heart, that he seemed to have attained the state of innocence at that time … he had practically all creatures, even the inanimate, at his command; a level of grace, indeed, in which he surpassed natural innocence … Thus did the elements put themselves at the service of the unspoiled Francis – If we truly love with the love of God, we will also love our brothers or sisters as God loves them. This is the newness of Christianity: One cannot love God if one does not love one’s brethren.

9

He so perfectly imitated Christ that his wish was to place himself and his Order at the feet of everybody.  In order to be the least of all, he did not want to have any of the Church’s authority, except her authority for observing the holy Gospel. – The indispensable source of energy and renewal, when frailty and weakness increase, is the encounter with the living Christ, Lord of the covenant.

10

He certainly wanted to promote the salvation of souls, but only through the virtue of humility, not with pompous power. And though … he had several Supreme Pontiffs … who held him in the highest regard, sincerely convinced of his sanctity … he would never ask for or accept any privilege that might diminish his being a humble subject. – Develop an intense spiritual life and open your soul to the word of life.

11

For this reason, Francis, in his holy Testament, forbids all brothers, prelates, and subjects, to ask for any letter from the Apostolic See either to facilitate the work of preaching or to avoid persecution. The humble Francis used to say that when they meekly ask permission of bishops and priests, they were by their example edifying the very pastors of the Church – To pray is not to escape from history and the problems that it presents.  On the contrary, it is to choose to face reality not on our own, but with the strength that comes from on high, the strength of truth and love, which have their ultimate source in God.

12

Even if permission were refused, patience and humility will bring them to change their minds; meanwhile they themselves, by bearing refusal patiently, will keep intact a virtuous and flawless way of acting. – Human perfection consists not simply in acquiring an abstract knowledge of truth, but in a dynamic relationship of faithful self-giving with others.

13

To brothers who troubled him over their reluctance to be a this level of submissiveness to everyone, he replied in deeply plaintive terms: ‘My brothers, my brothers, what you want of me is to give up overcoming the world.  For Christ sent me top overcome the world by being subject to everyone, so that by love I might draw souls to Him through the example of humility’. – Let yourself be charmed by God, the Infinite, who appeared among you in visible and imitable form.

14

‘My brothers, humble yourselves before others, and you will convert them all.  Those who persecute you unjustly will turn to Christ, having seen your patience tried, and they will be anxious to kiss your footprints…’ – Fall in love with Jesus Christ, to live his very life, so that our world may have life in the light of the gospel.

15

‘But if I were to use the salvation of others as a pretext for wanting some prerogative, it would mean my forfeiting the humblest of positions which belongs to the condition I am in.  And it is through that  I advance in virtue, and the people advance in the mercy that save them’. – Love is the principle of divine life in the soul. Love is the law of our abiding in Christ.

16

He wanted to rule out for them all affectation to ecclesiastical dignity and maintain them in their lowly existence.  For this reason he called them ‘lesser’, so that they would not presume to become ‘greater’, and in no way did he wish them to aspire to the rank of prelacy. – Only genuine evangelical love will be strong enough to help communities pass from mere tolerance of others to real respect for their differences.

17

For everybody knows well enough that their ascent to rank spelled their descent from virtue…what they sought in promotion was not so much an improvement of other’s conduct as a life of relaxation for themselves. For, self-denying once, they have turned into gluttons; poor men once, they have become grasping and greedy; thought nothing of once, they have ended up proud and arrogant. – Only Christ’s redeeming grace can make us victorious in the daily challenge of turning from egoism to altruism, from fear to openness, from rejection to solidarity.

18

Oh, what a true prophet Francis was! …  The humble Francis, in order to keep himself on the lowest possible level and to confound the ambitions of the future, had no desire to be promoted to the priesthood.  As he saw it, … the guidance of souls was not to be conducted through prelacy, if it were to be beneficial, but rather to be committed to the spirit of poverty. – We need more heart.

19

To men of perfection…nothing should be a source of bother except what would drive them to sin, to which, of course, no one is forced against his will. – God’s love is love which is freely given … He loved us first.  He took the initiative.

20

Apart from Jesus, his most humble Mother, and the college of the Apostles, never should the world have in it such a profound expression of lowliness as that of this status of poor lesser ones, nor indeed such a gross deformation of it as that of those who fall away. – To heal the wounds of a recent bitter and painful past, one needs patience and wisdom, a spirit of initiative and honesty.

21

And because Francis crushed pride underfoot with his humility, he held off the proud demons with authority.  Therefore he was showing that his status was blasting away pride from the world. – The Christian vocation is walking with men and women as brothers or sisters, sharing their joys and hopes, difficulties and sufferings, offering them the road word which rekindles hope in their hearts.

22

For whoever, like Francis, keeps the humility of Jesus continually before his eyes and is delighted to resemble Him in meekness of heart, will subject himself to everyone and loathe issuing commands and prohibitions. The blessed Francis did commend humble obedience in the strongest terms, and observed it to the extent of always wanting to obey his brother companion. – Selfishness makes people deaf and dumb.

23

(Francis) put a restraining clause (in the Rule) to protect subjects, when he told ministers not to command them anything that is against their souls and our Rule, and subjects to obey in all things which they have promised the Lord to observe and are not against their souls and our Rule. – Love opens eyes and hearts, enabling people to make that original and irreplaceable contribution which … can change the tide of history.

24

The obedience of Francis cannot contain a greater purity, integrity, or depth, since it obeys in all things and refuses to obey false traditions that destroy the Rule, for to obey them is to apostatize.  Because it follows from the fact a prelate (superior) derives his authority from the Rule, that to command or obey something contrary to it is to apostatize from the Rule. – Ezekiel 21-22; Sirach 31.1-15; 1 John 3 – The future of evangelization depends in great part on the church of the home.

25

But, do we want to go further with Francis’s idea of obedience?  He himself, after all, was in everything the least of all the lesser ones. Well might we compare him to the tiniest of infants … or to the smallest of all seeds … or to the least of all the saints … or to Benjamin, the smallest of his brothers, who in many ways was a type of Francis… – Every authentically religious person is obliged to ask God for the gift of peace, with renewed determination to promote and build peace together with other believers.

26

O Francis, true Benjamin! The first-born Joseph had you seated at the table of evangelical life with your other holy brothers.  There your portion exceeds the others by the five portions of the sacred wounds … – It is not easy to proclaim the gospel in a world that claims not to need God.  Yet we are bound by the compelling words of St. Paul: ‘Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel’

27

He leads the whole Church of the people of Israel to the evangelical life and the full news of Christ … Humble and despised, the cup of your brothers’ evangelical wisdom and observance of the Rule and your most holy witness is contained, hidden, in the sack of observance of poverty. – The desire for unity is born and grows from the renewal of the mind, the love of truth, self-denial, and the free outpouring of love.

28

How Francis proved himself the friend of the bridegroom, by striving to conform himself to Jesus through the fervor of his charity and desire for the salvation of those to whom he was brother, is evinced by the fact that from the beginning of his conversion to the end he blazed continually like a fire with an ardent love for Jesus. – If you want peace, reach out to the poor!

29

Fanned by the breath of the Holy Spirit, he kept the furnace of his heart ever ignited, so that once he heard the love of God mentioned he was excited, moved, and animated as the beloved spouse … – God loves everyone, … wills the good of everyone, … and offers to everyone the gift of peace!

30

All things created were a means by which he fired this love of his.  Through looking on things of beauty he would contemplate the Beautiful; in frail creatures he would recognize the infirmities which Jesus in His goodness bore for our salvation.  He made a ladder of everything by which he could reach the One he loved. – Every day dedicate some time to conversing with God.  This is a sincere proof of your love for him, for love always seeks to be near the beloved.

 

Fr. Francis Daily Reflections – October, 2017

October 2017

Almighty, eternal, just, and merciful God,

grant to us wretches, by your will, to do what we know you wish,

and ever to wish what pleases you,

in order that, purified in soul, lighted up within,

and inflamed by the fire of the Holy Spirit,

we may follow the footsteps of your Son,

our Lord Jesus Christ,

and reach you, Most High, by your grace alone.

For you live and reign and are glorified,

in perfect Trinity and simple Unity, Almighty God

for ever and ever.

Amen.

(Letter to the Chapter)

 

 

The daily Franciscan verses are taken from A letter on the Passing of Saint Francis attributed to Elias of Assisi.

Thoughts for each day are taken from various sources

 

1

To Gregory, his beloved brother in Christ, the minister of the brothers who are in France, together with all his brothers and ours, Brother Elias, a sinner, sends greetings. Before I begin to write, I sigh, and rightly so – Intelligence may drive machines, but it is the heart that beats with life!

2

My groans gush forth like waters in a flood.  For what I feared has overtaken me and has overtaken you.  And what I dreaded has happened to me and to you. – Allow God to enter your life: Then you will brighten with divine light.

3

Our consoler has gone away from us and he who carried us in his arms like lambs has gone on a journey to a far away country. – Without eternal life, temporal existence, however rich, however highly developed in all aspects, in the end brings man nothing other than the ineluctable necessity of death.

4

He who was beloved by God and of man, who taught Jacob the law of life and of discipline, and gave to Israel a covenant of peace has been received into the most resplendent dwellings. – Like Francis of Assisi, preach peace and repentance, promote justice, defend the rights of the human person, raise your voice against exploitation and violence, and attentively care for all the wounds that make humanity groan today.

5

We would rejoice on his account, yet for our own part we must mourn, since in his absence darkness surrounds us and the shadow of death covers us. – Especially through His lifestyle and through His actions, Jesus revealed that love is  present in the world in which we live.

6

It is a loss for all, yet it is a trial singularly my own, for he has left me in the midst of darkness, surrounded by many anxieties and pressed down by countless afflictions. – Love is endlessly inventive. These words of St. Vincent (de Paul) marvelously express this reality in the church.

7

For this reason I implore you.  Mourn with me, brothers, for I am in great sorrow and, with you, in pain.  For we are orphans without our father and bereaved of the light of our eyes.- The rosary brings us back again and again to the most important scenes of Christ’s life, almost as if to let us ‘breathe’ His mystery. The rosary is the privileged path to contemplation.  It is Mary’s way.

8

In truth, in very truth, the presence of our brother and father Francis was a light, not only for us who were near, but even for those who were far from us in calling and in life. – The sovereign divine initiative does not dispense man from the task of responding to it.

9

He was a light shed by the true light to give light to those who were in darkness and sitting in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace. – Divine love surrounds and penetrates every human venture.

10

He did this because the true Daystar from on high shone upon his heart and enkindled his will with the fire of His love. – Let the angels guide you, so that you will faithfully put God’s commandments intro practice in your life.

11

By preaching the kingdom of God and turning the hearts of fathers to their children and the rebellious to the wisdom of the just, he prepared for the Lord a new people in the world.- The Eucharistic celebration reunites all Christians … It gathers them all in the equal dignity of brothers and sisters of Christ and children of the Father.

12

His name reached distant coasts and all lands were in awe at his marvelous deeds.  For this reason, sons and brothers, do not mourn beyond measure. – In Jesus’s cross all suffering acquires the possibility of meaning; sickness does not cease to be a trial, but it is illuminated by hope.

13

God, the father of orphans, will give us comfort by his holy consolation.  And, if you weep, brothers, weep for yourselves and not for him.- Only Jesus knows what is in your hearts and your deepest desires.

14

For ‘in the midst of life, we are caught in death’, while he has passed from death to life. – Only Jesus, who has loved you to the end, can fulfill your aspirations.

15

Rejoice, for, like Jacob, he blessed all his sons before he was taken from us and forgave them all the faults which any one of us might have committed, or even thought of committing, against him. – No one apart from Christ can give you true happiness.

16

And now, after telling you these things, I announce to you a great joy and the news of a miracle.  Such a sign that has never been heard of from the dawn of time except in the Son of God, who is Christ the Lord. – The life of grace which we carry within us, is the life of the risen Christ.

17

Not long before his death, our brother and father appeared crucified, bearing in his body the five wounds which are truly the marks of Christ. – The gospel of hope … offers confidence, serenity, and direction in place of the hopelessness which inevitably spawns fear, hostility, and violence in the hearts of individuals and in society as a whole.

18

His hands and feet had, as it were, the openings of the nails and were pierced front and back revealing the scars and showing the nails’ blackness. – The fervent prayer of Jesus in the Upper Room continues to remind Christian communities that unity is a gift to welcome and develop in an ever deeper way.

19

His side, moreover, seemed opened by a lance and often emitted blood. – Humanity will be more easily attracted by Christ and will choose Him if they are touched by the witness of Christian faith and charity.

20

As long as his spirit lived in the body, there was no beauty in him for his appearance was that of a man despised.  No part of his body was without suffering.- God has endowed human beings with the capacity to love.

21

By reason of the contraction of his sinews, his limbs were stiff, much like those of a dead man.  But after his death, his appearance was one of great beauty gleaming with a dazzling whiteness and giving joy to all who looked upon him.- It is through love that we fulfill our destiny to act in the likeness of God.

22

His limbs, which had been rigid, became marvelously soft and pliable, so that they would be turned this way and that, like those of a young child. – To believe in Jesus is to accept what He says, even when it runs contrary to what others are saying.

23

Therefore, brothers, bless the God of heaven and praise Him before all, for He has shown His mercy to us.  Hold fast the memory of our father and brother, Francis, to the praise and glory of Him Who made him so great among people and gave him glory in the sight of angels. – To believe in Jesus … means rejecting the lure of sin, however attractive it may be, in order to set out on the difficult path of the gospel virtues.

24

Pray for him as he begged us, and pray to him that God may make us share with him in his holy grace. Amen. – The family’s future is entrusted first of all to each person’s conscience and responsible commitment, and to the convictions and values that are alive within us.

25

On the fourth day before the nones of October, the Lord’s day, at the first hour of the preceding night, our father and brothers went to Christ. – We must always turn with trustful supplication to Him who can change human hearts and minds.

26

I am sure, dearest brothers, that when this letter reaches you, you will follow the footprints of the people of Israel as they mourned the loss of their great leaders, Moses and Aaron. – The splendor of Christ’s glory is reflected in the face of every human being.

27

Let us,  by all means, give way to tears for we are deprived of so great a father.  Indeed, it is in keeping with our love for him that we rejoice with Francis. Still, it is right to mourn him! – With courage and compassion, Christians must be ever attentive to the cry of the poor, serving the Lord who is present in their suffering.

28

It belongs to us to rejoice with Francis, for he has not died but gone to the fair in heaven, taking with him a bag of mercy and will not return until the full moon. At the same time it is right for us to weep for Francis. – True reconciliation between divided and hostile men is possible only when they allow themselves to be reconciled with God.

29

He who came and went among us, as did Aaron, who brought forth from his storehouse both the new and the old and comforted us in all our afflictions, has been taken from our midst.  Now we are like orphans without a father. – Authentic brotherly love is founded on love for God, who is the common Father of all.

30

Yet, because it is written, ‘the poor depend on you and you are the helper of orphans’ all of you, dearest brothers, must earnestly pray that, though this earthen jar has been broken in the valley of Adam’s children, the Most High Potter will deign to repair and restore another of similar honor, who will rule over the multitude of our race and go before us into battle like a true Maccabee. – Authentic religious experience is … a mature and noble attitude of acceptance of God, which in turn gives meaning to life and implies a responsibility to work for a better world.

31

And, because it is not useless to pray for the dead, pray to the Lord for his soul. – The degree of a people’s civilization is measured by the extent of their respect for… the value of life.

 

Fr. Francis Reflections - September 2017

September 2017

Let us desire nothing else, let us wish for nothing else, let nothing else please us and cause us delight, except our Creator and redeemer and Savior, the one true God, Who is fullness of Good, all Good, every Good, the true and Supreme Good, Who alone is merciful and gentle, delectable and sweet, Who alone is holy, just and true, holy and right, Who alone is kind, innocent, pure, from Whom and through Whom and in Whom is all pardon, all grace, all glory … Therefore, let nothing hinder us, nothing separate us or come between us. Let us all, wherever we are … Glorify and exalt, magnify and give thanks to the Most High and supreme eternal God ..

Amen.

(Saint Francis of Assisi)

 

Following are excerpts taken from Considerations on the Stigmata,

Daily reflections are taken from Various writings of St. Francis

 

1

In the year of 1224, St. Francis went…from the Valley of Spoleto into Romagna, taking with him brother Leo… Francis herad that many gentlemen were gathered together…he said to brother Leo, Come, let us go up into this festival, for, by God’s help, we shall gather there rich spiritual fruit. – We can be sure someone is a true religious and has the spirit of God if his lower nature does not give way to pride when God accomplishes some good through him. (Admonitions, 12)

2

A certain gentlemen of Tuscany…Orlando of Chiusi … had heard concerning the holiness and miracles of St. Francis and bore him great devotion and had a desire to see him and hear him preach…Francis came to the castle…where the gentlemen were gathered…and spoke these words, So great is the joy which I expect. That all pain is joy to me. – Blessed the religious who treasures up for heaven the favors God has given him and does not want to show them off for what he can get out of them. (Admonitions, 28)

3

Orlando was touched in the heart by God…After dinner returning to St. Francis, he spoke with him at length, and in the end said, I have a mountain in Tuscany, a devout and solitary place, called Mount Alvernia, far from all discourse with people, well fitted for one who would do penance for his sins. If it please you, I will freely give it to you and your companions for the welfare of my soul. – Blessed the religious who keeps God’s marvelous doings to himself (Admonitions, 28) » Click to continue reading “Fr. Francis Reflections – September 2017” »

Father Francis’ Reflections – August, 2017

August 2017

 

I bend my knee to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ

so that, through the prayers and merits of the

holy and glorious Virgin Mary, His Mother,

and of our most blessed father Francis and of all the saints,

the Lord Himself, Who has given a good beginning,

may give increase and may also give final perseverance.

Amen.

(The Testament of St. Clare of Assisi)

 

Daily excerpts are taken from the Papal Decree of Canonization of St. Clare of Assisi.

 

Daily reflections are taken from Words of Saint John Paul II

 

1

Clare, brilliant by her bright merits, by the brightness of her great glory in heaven, and by the brilliance of her sublime miracles on earth, shines brilliantly. – In the Eucharist we have Jesus, we have His redemptive sacrifice, we have His resurrection, we have the gift of the Holy Spirit, we have adoration, obedience, and love of the Father.

2

Clare, her strict and lofty way of religious life glows here on earth, while the magnitude of her eternal rewards radiates from above and her virtue begins to dawn upon all mortal beings with magnificent signs.  –  Inwardly reconciled with God, the believer can become a true peacemaker among the brothers and sisters he meets on the path.

3

Clare, here below she was endowed with the privilege of the most exalted poverty; on high she is repaid by an inestimable source of treasure. – The unity of all divided humanity is the will of God.

4

Clare, she is shown full devotion and immense honor by all.- Division openly contradicts the will of Christ, provides a stumbling block to the world, and inflicts damage on the most holy cause of proclaiming the good news to every creature.

5

Clare, here brilliant deeds distinguished her here on earth. – Do not hesitate to be apostles of the Risen One.

6

Clare, while on high the fullness of divine light shines on her. – It is each person’s duty, in his name, generously to promote spiritual values such as fidelity, the acceptance and defense of life in all its phases, love of neighbor, and perseverance in the faith even amid the inevitable difficulties of daily life.

7

Clare, her amazing works of wonder make her known to the Christian people. – It is in human hearts that war or reconciliation begins.

8

O Clare, endowed with so many brilliant titles!  Bright even before your conversion, brighter in your manner of living, brighter still in your enclosed life, and brilliant in splendor after the course of your mortal life! – A peaceful future is built on the basis of a ‘new heart’, a heart able to recognize in every individual person a brother or sister with equal dignity…

9

In this Clare, a clear mirror of example has been given to this world; by her, the sweet lily of virginity is offered among the heavenly delights; by her, obvious remedies are felt here on earth. – The face of Christ is the face of light that tears open the obscure mystery of death.

10

O the inestimable brilliance of blessed Clare!  The more eagerly she is sought for something, the more brilliant she is found in everything. – The face of Christ is the proclamation and pledge of our glory, because it is the face of the crucified and risen One.

11

This woman, I say, was resplendent in the world, shone brilliantly in her religious life; enlightened as a radiant beam in her home, dazzled as lightning in the enclosure. – St. Clare and countless other saints and martyrs were marked by the mystery of the cross.  (Her) secret was precisely this sign of the triumph of love over hatred, of forgiveness over retaliation, of good over evil.  We are called to go forward in their footsteps.

12

She shone forth in life; she is radiant after death.  Enlightening on earth, she dazzles in heaven! – Jesus Christ, the only Savior of the world, is food for a new life – a life that is born of intimacy with God and which reaches humanity through the sacrifice of Jesus, who will be with us ‘always, to the close of the age, especially in the Eucharist.

13

O how great is the vibrancy of this light and how intense is the brilliance of its illumination! – The love of Christ and human freedom are intertwined, because love and truth have an intrinsic relationship.

14

While this light remained certainly in a hidden enclosure, it emitted sparkling rays outside.  Placed in the confined area of the monastery, yet she was spread throughout the wide world. – The recognition of the dignity of every human being is the foundation and support of the concept of universal human rights.

15

Hidden within, she extended herself abroad.  Yes, Clare hid, yet her life has come to light.  Clare was silent, yet her fame was proclaimed. She was hidden in a cell, but was known in the cities. – Human dignity and the rights that stem from it are solidly grounded on the truth of the human being’s creation in the image and likeness of God.

16

It should not be surprising that a light so enkindles, so illuminating could not be kept hidden without shining brilliantly and giving bright light in the house of the Lord… – Genuine religious belief is the chief antidote to violence and conflict.

17

Nor could a vessel filled with perfume be concealed so it would not give fragrance and suffuse the Lord’s house with a sweet fragrance. – It is particularly important to serve the very poor, those ‘little ones’ whom the Lord wants to put in the first place.

18

Moreover, since with her harshness she broke the alabaster jar of her body in the severity of her cloistered solitude, the whole aura of the Church was thoroughly imbued with the fragrance of her sanctity – Read the Scriptures daily, if possible. Meditate on them.

19

While still a young girl in the world, she was striving to pass rapidly along a clean path, past the fragile and unclean world.  Keeping the precious treasure of her virginity with an undiminished modesty, she carefully dedicated herself to works of kindness and brilliance. – Give the word of God a convincing and winning form in your lives.  You will experience the living presence of Christ in yourselves through his word.

20

…her reputation spread freely to those bear and far.  After hearing this praise, blessed Francis immediately began to encourage her and to lead her to the perfect service of Christ. – Death is not the last word.  It is the passage to eternal happiness in store for those who toil for truth and justice and do their utmost to follow Christ.

21

Quickly adhering to the sacred admonitions of this man (St. Francis) and desiring to reject entirely the world with everything earthly and to serve the Lord alone in voluntary poverty, she fulfilled this as quickly as she could. – God inscribed in the humanity of man and woman the vocation, and thus the capacity and responsibility, of love and communion.

22

At last she finally changed all her goods into alms and distributed them as resources for the poor, so that, one with him, whatever she had she too would consider for the service of Christ. – Love is the fundamental and innate vocation of every human being.

23

Fleeing from the clamor of the world, she went down to the church in the field and, after receiving the sacred tonsure from blessed Francis himself, she proceeded to another. – The person who thinks that he can make his life secure by the possession of material goods alone is deluding himself.

24

When her relations endeavored to bring her back, she immediately took hold of the altar and its cloths, uncovered her shorn head and resisted her relatives strongly and firmly in this way. She could not permit herself to be separated from God’s service because she was already joined to Him with her whole mind. – Our Christian conscience should be deeply concerned about the way in which sins against love and against life are often presented as examples of progress and emancipation.

25

This woman, encouraged by blessed Francis himself, gave the beginning of following a new and holy observance.  This woman was the first and solid foundation of this great religion. – The Ten Commandments are the law of freedom: not the freedom to follow our blind passions, but the freedom to love, to choose what is good in every situation, even when to do so is a burden.

26

This woman stood as the cornerstone of this lofty work … noble by birth, but nobler by manner of life, eminently preserved the virginity she had already protected from the first under the rule of holiness. – The typically Christian way of contemplating God always passes through Christ.

27

Her mother, named Ortolana, intent upon pious deeds, followed her daughter’s footprints and afterwards accepted this religious way of life. … but after a few years, that blessed Clare, very much urged by the insistence of the same Saint Francis, accepted the government of the monastery of the sisters. – The experience of God can never be reduced to a general ‘sense of the divine’, nor can the mediation of Christ humanity be surpassed…

28

This woman was undoubtedly a very lofty and outstanding tree with far-reaching branches that brought forth the sweet fruit of religion in the meadow of the Church.  To its refreshing shade, under its delight, many students of the faith ran and still run from everywhere tasting fruit of every kind. – Genuine Christian joy cannot be reduced to a chance feeling: Its foundations lie in the love God manifested to us in the death and resurrection of his Son.

29

This woman was a clear spring of the Spoleto Valley that offered a new fountain of living water for the refreshment and comfort of souls, a fountain that has already irrigated the nursery of religion through the different rivulets in the precincts of the Church. – Mary’s glorious state brings about a continuous and caring closeness … She is a queen who gives all that she possesses, participating above all in then life and love of Christ.

30

this woman was a loft candelabra of sanctity, shimmering brightly in the tabernacle of the Lord, to whose remarkable splendor many have and are still hastening, lighting their lamps by its light. – To put your faith in Jesus means choosing to believe what he says, no matter how strange it may seem, and choosing to reject the claims of evil, no matter how sensible or attractive they may seem.

31

This woman truly planted and cultivated a vineyard of poverty in the field of the faith, from which the abundant and rich fruits of salvation have been gathered. – Christ alone is the world’s salvation!

 

 

 

Daily Reflections for July 2017

O loving one bear in mind your poor children for whom, without you,
their one and only consolation, there is little comfort…
they still .. tearfully cry out to you:
O father, place before Jesus Christ, son of the Most High Father,
His sacred stigmata; and show Him the signs of the cross on your hands, feet, and side,
that He may mercifully bare His own wounds to the Father,
and because of this the Father will ever show us in our anguish His tenderness.
Amen.

(Prayer to St. Francis from the End of the Second Book of the Life of St. Francis by Bl. Thomas of Celano)

 

Daily meditative phrases from various sources

1

Blessed Francis felt more pity for the man’s soul, rooted in mortal hatred, than for his body.  He said to him: Brother, forgive your lord for the love of  God, so that you may set your soul free, and it may be that he will return to you what he has taken. Otherwise you will lose not only your property but also your soul. – When man becomes ‘bereft of God’, he loses the meaning of his own life and in some way becomes ‘bereft’ of himself.

2

So blessed Francis said (to the Dominican who asked his explanation of a passage from Ezekiel): … a servant of God should be burning with life and holiness so brightly, that by the light of example and the tongue of his conduct, he will rebuke all the wicked. – The family is the great workshop of love … where people are taught to love … with the incisive power of experience.

3

In order to preserve the virtue of holy humility,  a few years after his conversion, at a chapter, he resigned the office of prelate before all the brothers of his religion, saying: From now on, I am dead to you. But here you have Brother Peter of Catanio; let us all, you and I, obey him. – Do not separate your faith from your daily life and your daily life from your faith, as so many people do today.

4

He used to affirm that the Lesser Brothers had been sent from the Lord in these last times to show forth examples of light to those wrapped in the darkness of sins. – The life and the whole being of each Christian must be identified around one central axis: fidelity to Jesus Christ. » Click to continue reading “Daily Reflections for July 2017” »