Reflections from Father Francis - December 2016

December 2016
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.
(From the Later Admonitions and Exhortation of Saint Francis of Assisi)
Daily excerpts from Franciscan Sources
Daily reflections taken from various sources

1

The holy man Francis, beloved of God, had already, in his holy way of living, portrayed the life of Jesus the Redeemer, which the world had consigned to oblivion, and had set it out in his evangelical Rule, so that it should be truly evident to all the world that what he was illustrating, both in the Rule and in the life he led, was the life of Jesus the Savior himself. – While we are pilgrims on earth, we look toward heaven, our definitive homeland.

2

Jesus in his exceeding goodness and mercy knew what the evangelical Rule of Francis and the perfect transformation he had brought about would have to endure from future generation’s persecutions, unfortunate expositions, and infringement … Within a short time after the Rule’s institution, He would furnish the seal of His high priesthood both the life of Francis and the established Rule, through a miracle unheard of in previous ages …  – Where hatred and the thirst for revenge dominate … there the grace of mercy is needed … to bring about peace.

3

Christ’s standard-bearer was Francis as he carried (the wounds of the Savior) on his sacred body for two years.  Defying nature, he lived with his side opened; blood flowed from it; a memorial of blood of the living God, shed for us.  Breathtaking are these signs … – For Christians, being the light of the world means spreading everywhere the light that comes from on high.

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Father Francis' Reflections for November 2016

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.
Following are excerpts taken from: A Book of the Praises of Saint Francis  (Bernard of Besse)

Daily reflections are taken from various sources

1

Blessed Francis, like the rising sun, brightened the world by his life, his teaching and his miracles.  He had a father intent on worldly affairs, but a very upright mother. – Our objective in life is to become a saint.

2

Like another Elizabeth, at the sacred font she called him John, and, in spirit, she predicted that, by the grace of his merits, he would become a son of God. – On the first rung of the ladder to holiness are written the words: ‘Who does not carry his cross and follow me, cannot be my disciple’.

3

The boy grew up … until he was twenty-five years old.  Then he left all things and followed in the footsteps of Christ.  He renewed the old life of the Apostles… – Stubbornness is one quality incompatible with sanctity; purpose and persistence are necessary.

4

We have heard that of Francis’ first twelve disciples, for whom he also wrote a rule … and all were holy men except for one … (so that) even in his disciples the similarity of Francis to Christ might not be wanting. – Live the Gospel without compromise; live like Christ. » Click to continue reading “Father Francis’ Reflections for November 2016” »

October Reflections by Father Sariego, OFM Cap

October 2016
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: A Letter on the Passing of Saint Francis (attributed to Elias of Assisi)
Daily reflections are taken from various sources
1
Before I begin to speak, I sigh, and rightly so… For what I reared has overtaken me and has overtaken you. What I dreaded has happened to me and to you. Our consoler has gone away from us and he who carried him in his arms like lambs has gone on a journey to a far off country. – God is with you, God is within you, dwell for a moment in God’s presence.
2
He who was beloved of 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 of dwellings. We would rejoice exceedingly 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. – Holiness is where we are.
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 me down by countless afflictions. For this reason mourn with me, brothers…For we are orphans without our father and bereaved of the light of our eyes. – If you have the virtue of obedience you have all the other virtues.
4
(Taken from the later part of the Letter of Elias) On the fourth day before the nones of October, the Lord’s day, at the first hour of the preceding light, our father and brother went to Christ.  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. Let us, by all means, give way to tears for we are deprived of so great a father. – From silly devotions and sour-faced saints, may the good Lord deliver us!
5
The presence of our brother and father Francis was a light …  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… The true Daystar from on high shone upon his heart and enkindles his will with the fire of His love. – Union with God is perfect when our will has become free of all things and clings to God alone.
6
By preaching the kingdom of God and turning the hearts of fathers to their children and the rebellious to then wisdom of the just, he prepared for the Lord a new people in this world.  His name reached distant coasts and all lands were in awe at his marvelous deeds. – The best way of praying is the way in which you can pray the most fervently.
7
Do not mourn beyond measure.  God, the father of orphans, will give us comfort by his holy consolation.  If you weep, brothers, weep for yourselves and not fr him. In the midst of life we are caught in death, while he has passed from death to life. – Do not allow aridities in prayer to trouble you, for perfection does not consist in having delights but in possessing virtue.
8
Rejoice, for like another 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. – Devotion is devotedness: lifting our thoughts to God, loving Him, living with Him.
9
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. – No heart can ever be empty when God is in it. And He will always be in the heart when we pray!
10
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.  His hands and his feet had as it were the openings of the nails and were pierced front and back revealing the scars and showing the nails’ blackness.  His side, moreover, seemed opened by a lance and often emitted blood. – If there has been any good in me, and if any fruit has grown from my littleness, it was due entirely to the help of the grace of God.
11
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 great suffering. – To do good without God’s help is as im possible as to make the sun shine at night.
12
His limbs were stiff, much like those of a dead man.  But after his death, his appearance was one of great beauty gleaming with dazzling whiteness and giving joy to all who looked upon him. – God is a generous spender, tossing the coins of His grace everywhere with Divine abandon.
13
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 child. Therefore, brothers, bless the God of heaven and earth and praise Him before all, for He has shown His mercy to us. – Grace ignored ultimately means grace withheld, grace repudiated, grace denied.
14
Hold fast the memory of our father and brothers, Francis, to the praise and glory of Him Who made him so great among people and gave him glory in the sight of angels. – Self-reform is impossible, at least difficult and disheartening, without sel-knowledge.
15
Pray for him, as he begged us, and pray to him that God may make us share with him in his holy grace. Amen. – Knowledge of self is a life-long study. It embraces all that is ours…enlightened by faith.
16
Indeed, it is in keeping with our love for him that we rejoice with Francis.  Still, it is right to mourn him! It belongs to us to rejoice with Francis, for he has not died but gone to the fair in heaven… – Lord, grant that I may know You, grant that I may know myself.
17
At the same time, it is right for us to weep for Francis.  He who came and went among us, as did Aaron, who brought forth from his storehouse bot 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. – A saint is person like us who gets what he wants by working for it…a life-time.
18
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 in battle like a true Maccabee. – We must speak to those in need with our hands before we speak to them with our lips.
19
Francis the servant and friend of the Most High, founder and leader of the Order of Lesser Brothers, the practitioner of poverty, the model of penance, the herald of truth, the mirror of holiness, and exemplar of all Gospel perfection, foreordained by grace from heaven, in ordered progression, from the lowest level arrived at the very heights. – The shortest road to heaven is the way of the cross.
20
The Lord made incomparably more brilliant in death this marvelous man, whom he had made marvelously bright in life… – To persevere bravely in spite of the lack of sweetness and relish in prayer – this is the sign of the spirit of God.
21
(He made him) rich in poverty, exalted in humility, vigorous in mortification, ,prudent in simplicity, distinguished in the integrity of life. – Holiness is a process of slow steady and growth: of trying, failing, trying, failing, and still undaunted, trying again.
22
After this blessed man left the world, that sacred spirit … left certain signs of future glory imprinted on his body; so that his holy flesh … bore the likeness of Christ’s passion by a singular privilege and would offer by the newness of a miracle a glimpse of the resurrection. – We cannot become good by wishing for it but by working for it.
23
In his blessed hands and feet could be seen the nails that had been marvelously fashioned by divine power of his flesh, and thus embedded in the flesh. – If we are to reach heaven by a devout life, sky-gazing and daydreaming will not help.  We must come down to earth, plant our feet firmly on the ground, and take one step at a time, like a child learning how to walk.
24
The wound in his side could be clearly seen, which was not inflicted on his body nor produced by human means; it was like the wound in the Savior’s side… – The most crippling obstacle to holiness is our expecting too much too soon…A great saint said: I shall be very happy if I am free of all imperfections only fifteen minutes before I die.
25
His sons were weeping at the loss of so lovable a father but were filled withy no little joy while they kissed the seal marks of the Supreme King in him. – God who has promised pardon to the penitent sinner, has nowhere promised him who delays his conversion a tomorrow to do penance in.
26
So unique and so remarkable was the sight to all who observed it that it confirmed their faith and incited their love. – If we are determined to do good and become holy, if tomorrow, why not now!
27
When the people heard of the passing of our blessed father and news of the miracle had spread, they hurried to the place to see with their own eyes so that they could dispel all doubt and add joy to their love. – Too late have I loved You, O Beauty ever ancient and ever new, too late have I loved You.
28
A great number of the citizens of Assisi were admitted to contemplate the sacred marks with their own eyes and to kiss them with their lips. – Without penance we shall never advance beyond mediocrity.
29
The venerable father left the shipwreck of this world in the 1226th year of the Incarnation of the Lord, on the fourth day of the nones of October, a Saturday evening, and was buried on Sunday. Immediately, the holy man began to reflect the light radiating from the face of God … – Too many people are curious to know the lives of others, but careless to amend their own.
30
in different parts of the world, his glorious miracles and the abundant benefits obtained through him, inflamed many to devotion to Christ and incited them to reverence for his saint. – Without repentance there will be nom reform of self; without reform of self there will be no progress in virtue; and without progress in virtue we shall never come closer to God.
31
The wonderful things which God was working through his servant Francis – acclaimed by word of mouth and testified to by facts – came to the ears of the Supreme Pontiff, Gregory IX…(who) was fully convinced of Francis’ remarkable holiness: not only from hearing of the miracles after his death, but also from his own experience during his life…He had no doubt that Francis was glorified in heaven by the Lord … – Live the Gospel without compromise, live like Christ…

September Reflections from Father Francis

The Self-Emptying
1
At one time a tempted brother asked Francis to pray for him, the holy man said:  Believe me, son, I believe you are more a servant of God because of this.  No one, he said, should consider himself a servant of God until he has passed through temptations and tribulations… – We must work for peace and pray for peace.
2
A temptation overcome is like a ring which the Lord betroths the soul of his servant.  Many flatter themselves over their many years of merit and rejoice at never having suffered any temptations. But sheer fright would knock them out before a battle even started. So they should know that the Lord has kept in kind their weakness of spirit.  Hard fights are rarely fought except by those with the greatest strength. – Peace is above all a gift of God: it requires prayer.
3
And another brother was vexed for a long time by a temptation of the spirit, which is worse and more subtle that the prompting of the flesh. He came to Saint Francis … with bitter tears … The saint, however, realized that he was tormented by wicked spirits.  I command, he said,  from this moment stop assailing my brother.  Immediately the brother became free. – The soul that lives in habitual contact with God … knows how to guard without difficult against the temptation of particularism and opposition, which create the risk of painful divisions.
4
Tempted himself, he learned to suffer with those who were sometimes tempted. For at times he endured a very great temptation of the flesh … At another time a very serious temptation of spirit came upon him … because of it he was filled with anguish and sorrow … He was under attack in this way for several years … – The Eucharist is placed at the center of the life of the great human family.
5
One day while praying at Saint Mary of the Portiuncula, he heard in spirit a voice: Francis, if you had faith like a mustard seed, you would tell the mountain to move from here, and it would move … The mountain is your temptation. And (Francis) said, sobbing: Lord, be it done to me as you have said.  At once, the whole temptation was driven away, he was set free. – The Eucharist is the great instrument for bringing men closer to one another.
6
He used to tell (his brothers): As you announce peace with your mouth, may you keep it in your heart, thus no one will be provoked to anger or scandal, but rather to kindness and gentleness.  For we have been called to this: to cure the wounded, to bind up the broken, and to recall the erring.  Many who seem to us to be members of the devil, will yet be disciples of Christ. – God becomes converted to us through the Cross of Christ.
7
To his brothers he would speak compassionately, not as a judge, but as a father to his children and a doctor to the sick … Great was his compassion toward the sick and great his concern for their needs … He was truly endowed with outstanding discernment and the grace of simplicity, so that with a true dove-like simplicity, he possessed the prudence of a serpent. – Let us open ourselves to God who wants to open himself to us.
Poverty
8
He depended on the divine foresight according to the word he spoke to the Lord Pope who argued that it was difficult to live without possessions.  My Lord, I trust in my Lord Jesus Christ.  Since He has promised to give us life and glory in heaven, he will not deprive us of our bodily necessities when we need them on earth. – Conversion is before all else acceptance … (of) God in all the riches of his ‘conversion’ toward man.
9
He was well aware that the Lord took care of him even in the smallest matters … He did not want to be involved with the world through temporal things. – Christ says to the suffering person: ‘Come follow me!’
10
He responded (to the Bishop of Assisi regarding possessing nothing): Lord, if we had any possessions, we would need to have arms to protect them, because they cause many disputes and lawsuits.  Possessions usually impede the love of God and neighbor. – The Church is built up through communion with the Son of God.
11
He would frequently say:  As far as the brothers will withdraw from poverty, that  far will the world withdraw from them.  They owe the world an example, and the world owes the food they need.  When the brothers withdraw good example, the world withdraws from them its support. – The most precious gift the Church can offer today’s disoriented and disquieted world is to form Christians who are securely and humbly joyous in their faith.
12
He wanted the brothers to be content with a few things, and not to possess these few things, whether places or things, as their own.  He wanted to own nothing so that he could possess everything more fully in the Lord. – The Church is realized in the Sacrifice of Christ.
Humility
13
With the greatest zeal he cultivated poverty’s companion, the virtue of humility. Because of this he wanted the brothers to be clothed in a humble habit, girt with a rope, to be called Lesser Brothers, and never to exalted in this world. – Each of us must regard our own lives and the history of humanity in a certain way with the eyes of Mary.
14
Blessed Dominic … clung to Blessed Francis by such devotion that he most devotedly wore under is inner tunic a cord which he had given him, and said that he wished that Francis’ religion and his own could be one, and stated that he should be imitated for his holiness by other religious. – Everyone welcomes within himself the Word of God.
15
(Regarding the humility and charity between the two Fathers, the passage continues) Oh, how this humility and mutual charity of their Fathers must be imitated by their sons!  Truly, it would be profitable to them and to God’s Church. – Let the soul of Mary be in everyone to magnify the Lord (St. Ambrose).
16
(Saint Francis) used to say: We have been sent to help clerics for the salvation of souls so that we may make up whatever may be lacking in them.  Each shall receive a reward, not on account of authority, but because of the work done.  Know then, brothers, that the good of souls is what pleases God most … – Let the spirit of Mary be in everyone to exult in the Lord  (St. Ambrose).
17
As he thought humbly of himself, he was, in his own eyes, a great sinner, while actually he was in every was a mirror of holiness, and also a virgin in the flesh, as he revealed to that very holy man, Brother Leo, his confessor, and then disclosed to the General Minister. – If, according to the flesh, only one is the mother of Christ, according to the faith all souls generate Christ for everyone welcomes within him the Word of God.  (St. Ambrose)
18
Virginal purity was fitting for flesh adorned with the sacred stigmata.  If some ordinary people of the world, by the working of grace and nature, preserve the integrity of the flesh even to old age, who would wonder that Francis preserved it, when God was disposed to exalt him with such a grace? – Procreation is rooted in creation.
Employment
19
The holy man always insisted on progress in doing good, remembering that the lukewarm, who do not apply themselves constantly to some work, would be quickly vomited out of the Lord’s mouth. No idler could appear in his presence without feeling the sharp bite of his criticism. – If you really accept the loves that comes from Christ, it will lead you to God.
20
He wished his brothers to apply themselves always to prayer or to some good work … The saint used to speak against the disease of acedia: When a servant of God gets disturbed about something, as often happens, he must get up at once to pray and remain before the Most High Father until he gives back to him the joy of his salvation. – Whatever you make of your life, make sure that it is a reflection of Christ’s love.
21
(St. Francis commented on 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.  In that way, the brightness of his life and the fragrance of his reputation will proclaim their wickedness to all of them. – In everything that you do, remember that Christ calls you, in one way or another, to a service of love.
22
The saint was brilliant with great power in expelling demons and the grace of healing … Through the sign of the cross he gave sight to the blind, cast out demons, and healed various illnesses. – There is need of a coherent and courageous testimony of faith.
23
The Lord said to (a brother who prayed 50 psalms a day that the Lord would guard him from the pains of purgatory): Work confidently and do penance, for while I was in the world, I always labored.  Let us, therefore, follow Christ and Saint Francis in labor, that we may be joined to them in rest.  The industrious Lord does not love a lazy servant. – We must first of all abandon the worldly and pagan mentality.
The Three Orders
24
Francis’ teaching produced fruit especially in the three Orders that he established. The first is the Order of Lesser Brothers whose purpose is to serve the Lord according to the Gospel in poverty and humility, and to preach penance … this is acceptable to God … – We must transform the worldly mentality into the mentality of Christ.
25
(The emperor Jean died in the habit of the Order as God’s answer to his earnest prayer)  O my most sweet Lord, Jesus Christ, would that I who have lived elegantly in the pomp of the world, clothed in priceless garments, could, as a truly poor and humble man, follow you, who are poor and humble, by seeking alms in this habit with a sack hanging from my neck. – We must accept the whole message of Christ without reductions of convenience and in accord with his example.
26
We should not be silent in our praise for Christ who exalted the humble. – (Rely on the action of grace) which can give to each of us the generosity to accept the responsibility for our own actions in terms of eternity and for the good of society.
27
The second Order founded by blessed Francis is that of virgins and continent women, whose proposal is to serve God in the enclosure, in perpetual silence, and in mortifying the flesh.  The first member of this Order was the blessed Clare, a most devout disciple of blessed Francis. – To be a Christian means to be a witness to Christ.
28
The Third Order is of the Brothers and Sisters of Penance, shared by clerics, laity, virgins, widows, and married couples.  Their purpose is to live uprightly in their own homes, to devote their attention to works of piety, and to flee the world’s allurements. – Without God, what remains of human beings!?
29
From the beginning a brother was assigned to them as minister, but now, in each region, they are released to their ministers, but who, as confreres begotten by the same father, are still encouraged by the brothers with counsel and assistance. – We live in times when God is forgotten … a world deprived of God … a world snatched away from its Creator.
30
The saint was busy giving to every class of people a way of penance and salvation. One time when a parish priest told him he wanted to be his brothers while still retaining the church, after he gave him a way of living and acting, he is said to have told him that each year, when the income of the church had been collected, he should give for God whatever was left from the preceding year. – The need to proclaim God is a sign peculiar to the times in which we live. If we separate ourselves from the Creator and cancel God, what remains of the creature?

 

August Reflections from Father Francis

August 2016
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)
The following are excerpts taken from early documents that speak of  St. Clare of Assisi.
from the Acts of the Process of Canonization (1st and 2nd Witnesses).
Daily reflections are taken from various sources
1
Saint Clare, while that holy woman was in the world…was considered by all who knew her to be a person of great honesty and of very good life; and she was intent upon and occupied with works of piety. (1st Witness) – The danger of indifference demands we do battle with triteness, shallowness, and dullness, and that we have to resist and begin to go in the other direction.
2
Saint Clare began the Order that is now at San Damiano through the admonition of Saint Francis.  She entered it as a virgin, and always remained such a virgin. (1st Witness) – Truly good people are always unconscious of their goodness.
3
Lady Clare very much loved the poor, and all the citizens held her in great veneration because of her good manner of life. (1stWitness)  – When we compare ourselves with other people, we seem good; when we compare ourselves with God, we are nothing.
4
After Saint Clare had been in the Order, at the prayers and insistence of Saint Francis, who almost forced her, she accepted the direction and government of the sisters. (1st Witness) – Love quickly decays.  Has our love grown cold?
5
The blessed mother (Saint Clare) kept vigil so much of the night in prayer, and kept so many abstinences, that the sisters lamented and were alarmed. (1st Witness) – The closer we get to Christ, the less certain we are of any merit of our own.
6
Lady Clare lay on the ground and had a rock from the river for her head…She was so very strict in her food that the sisters marveled at how her body survived. (1st Witness) – The older we get, the better we see ourselves.
7
Blessed Clare fasted much of the time.  Three days of the week, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, she did not eat anything…Saint Francis together with the bishop of Assisi commanded her to eat on those days at least a half a roll of bread… (1st Witness)  – The psychology of mediocrity seeks rather to ease the problem than cure it.
8
When she came from prayer, she admonished and comforted her sisters always speaking the words of God Who was always in her mouth, so much so that she did not want to speak or hear of vanities. (1st Witness) – Life had to be forfeited for our sins, and no life is more precious than that of God who became man. His blood … paid the infinite price.
9
When she (Saint Clare) commanded her sisters to do something, she did so with great fear and humility and more often than not she wished to do what she had commanded the others. (1st Witness) – Even if we claim not to believe, we still experience the moral effects of guilt.
10
When she was sick that she could not get up from bed, she had herself raised to sit up and be supported with some cushions…She spun thread so that, from her work, she made corporals and altar linens for almost all the churches of the plains and hills of Assisi. (1st Witness) – The great sin of the human race is rebellion.  We are rebels against God.
11
The blessed mother was humble, kind, and loving to her sisters, and had compassion for the sick. (1st Witness) – We need to resolve to change, because when we fall into a pattern of ordinariness, we are loath to change.
12
While she was healthy, she (Saint Clare) served them and washed their feet and gave them water with her own hands.  Sometime she washed the mattresses of the sick. (1st Witness) – You will always know the dark days of the Church (and our own) when there is a walking away from the cross of Christ.
13
She particularly loved poverty, but she could never be persuaded to desire anything for herself, or to receive any possession for herself or the monastery. (1st Witness) – There is no such thing as capturing the passing glory. You have to go down the hill and climb the hill of Calvary to come to perfect glory.
14
Lady Clare was as careful about the regular observance of her Order and the government of the sisters as someone might be in safeguarding his temporal treasure. (1st Witness) – The modern world is very fond of denying responsibility; it began in Eden.  The denial of responsibility stops at the cross of Christ.
15
When five sisters were sick in the monastery, Saint Clare made the sign of the cross with her own hand over them and all of them were immediately cured. (1st Witness) – The Cross without Christ is tyranny; Christ without the Cross is a lie.
16
Lady Clare, former abbess of the monastery of San Damiano, had marvelous humility and so looked down on herself … that those tasks which she knew were more degrading she herself performed. (2nd Witness) – Like vines, we must be pruned by the gardener, that we might be more fruitful.
17
She (St. Clare) was eighteen years old or so (when she entered religious life)…She was a virgin in spirit and in body and held in great veneration by all who knew her even before she entered religion…because of her great honesty, kindness, and humility. (2ndWitness) – After we have embraced discipline, then we will be prepared to change others.
18
She was also so severe toward her body that she was content with only one tunic of ‘lazzo’ (i.e. home-spun cloth made of inferior wool and used by the country folk) and one mantle. (2nd Witness) – Softness of character comes about when we desire to accommodate ourselves to the world, shrinking away from sacrifice, self-denial.
19
If she (St. Clare) ever saw that the tunic of another of the sisters was worse than what she was wearing, she took it from her for herself and gave the better one to that sisters. (2nd Witness) – The Lord heals, but not always.  There will not be a complete healing until the whole cosmos is renewed.
20
Clare at one time had a certain shirt made of boar’s hide.  She wore it secretly under her woolen tunic with the skin and its bristles close to her skin. (2nd Witness) – Christ solved pain by making it a condition of life. He conquered pain by using it as a means of attaining glory.
21
She used such rough haircloths and shirts for herself, but was very merciful to the sisters who could not endure such harshness, and willingly gave them consolation. (2nd Witness) – God chooses us not for what we are, but for what God knows we can become.
22
Blessed Clare, before she was sick, practiced great abstinence: the greater Lent, of Saint Martin, she always fasted on bread and water, except on Sundays when she drank a little wine when there was some. (2nd Witness) – Love knows no limits.
23
At about midnight she woke the sisters with certain signs in silence to praise God.  She lit the lamps in the church and frequently rang the bells for Matins.  Those sisters who did not rise at the sound of the bell she called with her signs. (2nd Witness) – Sometimes the only way the good Lord can get into some hearts is to break them.
24
Her speech was always about the things of God.  She did not wish to talk about worldly things or for the sisters to remember these things. (2nd Witness) – The crucifix is my autobiography.  The blood is the ink.  The nails the pen.  The skin the parchment. On every line of that body I can trace my life.
25
If it happened at times that some worldly person did something contrary to God, astonishingly she wept, reproached such a person, and exhorted that one anxiously to turn to penance. (2nd Witness) – Instead of a question of superiority or inferiority (in the Church and in fraternity) it is a question of the different roles we fulfill.
26
Lady Clare frequently confessed, and, with great devotion and fear, frequently received the holy sacrament of the Body of our Lord Jesus Christ, trembling all over as she did so. (2nd Witness) – We are all thieves. We cheat God in our lives; we cheat Him in our worship; we cheat Him in our relationships with others.  In us Jesus is reputed among the wicked.
27
Concerning the corporals made from her spinning…she had paper boxes lined with silk made to hold them and had them blessed by the bishop. (2nd Witness) – Scripture never speaks of reconciliation except through the death of Christ.  We are saved by the cross and resurrection.
28
(One sister) had lost her voice so that she was barely able to speak even softly. She had a vision on the night of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary in which Lady Clare, while making the sign of the cross with her hand over her, cured her.  It was done in such a way that on the same day she was cured since she did make the sign of the cross over her. (2nd Witness) – Peter and Judas both betrayed Jesus and both repented.  One repented to the Lord and the other repented to himself.  One lived in hope and the other died in despair.
29
A certain brother of the Order of Friars Minor, Stephen, was mentally ill.  Saint Francis sent him to the monastery of San Damiano, so Saint Clare would make the sign of the cross over him. After she had done this, the brother went to sleep…Upon waking, he ate a little and then departed cured. (2nd Witness) – In the Garden of Gethsemane, the Lord suffered not so much from pain, as from evil.
30
When certain Saracens scaled the wall and climbed down into the part within the cloister of San Damiano, holy mother Saint Clare, then seriously ill, got up from her bed, called her sisters, comforting them not to be afraid.  After she prayed, the Lord delivered the monastery and the sisters from the enemy.  Those Saracens, who had already  entered, departed. (2nd Witness) – The sufferings of our blessed Lord were finished in Him as the head of the church, but they are not finished in his body (the Church – us).
31
Through the virtues and grace that God had placed in her, all who knew her considered her a saint. She especially had a great love of poverty.  Neither Pope Gregory nor the Bishop of Ostia could make her consent to receive any possessions. (2nd Witness) – Nothing gives us so much understanding of the love of God, the sacrificial love, as God coming down to this world from heavenly headquarters and saying: ‘I will take the pain as my own’…This is the agape love of Christianity.

July Reflections from Father Francis

July 2016
All-powerful, most holy, Almighty and supreme God,
Holy and just Father, Lord King of heaven and earth
we thank You for Yourself, for through Your holy will
and through Your only Son with the holy Spirit
You have created everything spiritual and corporal
… making us in Your own image and likeness,…
We thank You…
Thoughts about St. Francis and Thought for the Day from various sources
1
Servants of the Lord should not be ignorant of the lives and teachings of saints through which they can come to God.  – When you come to Christ, Christianity demands the personal, intimate bond.  We have to be one with him, and reflect the person, mind, will, heart and humanity of Christ.
2
On the 16th of April, after 1207 years completed since the Incarnation of the Lord … God saw that His people … had forgotten His commandments … desiring not the death of the sinner, but that he be converted and live… God willed to send workers into His vineyard. – Faith is not the will to believe; it is the acceptance of truth based on the authority of God’ revelation.
3
Preoccupied with thoughts of wealth … Francis sent (a beggar away) without giving him alms … touched by divine grace, he began to accuse himself. – Reconciliation is inseparable from the death of Christ. We never have reconciliation without the passion, death, and resurrection of our Lord.
4
(After sending the poor man away, Francis thought): If the poor man had asked in the name of a count or a powerful baron, you would have granted him his request.  How much more should you have done this for the King of  kings and the lord of all?  – Because of sin we all need a fresh start.
5
He resolved in his heart, from then on, never to refuse a request from anyone asking in the name of so great a Lord. He called the poor man back and gave him a generous alms. – Let there be less of me and more of Christ.
6
He arrived in Spoleto … half asleep, he heard a voice asking him …Who can do more for you, the lord or the servant? The lord, he answered. Then why are you abandoning the lord for the servant, and the patron for the client? – The more ego there is, the less there is of Christ.
7
Francis sold the horse … as well as the wardrobe … and put on cheaper clothing … he approached a church … he threw the money on the windowsill of that church for he considered it worthless. – The more we are Christ, the more he can use us.
8
Without any worldly possessions, dressed in cheap and very miserable clothing … The Lord enriched the poor and contemptible man. Filling him with His Holy Spirit, He put into his mouth the words of life … – Christ does not open doors and give us opportunities, until we are flexible in his hands, obedient like a pencil in his hands.
9
(The Lord) put into his mouth words of life that he might preach and announce to the people judgment and mercy, punishment and glory and to recall to their minds the commandments of God they had forgotten. – Nothing in all the world is worth a moment of time except to know more of him.
10
Desiring to possess neither gold nor silver, nor money nor any other thing, he followed the lord in humility, poverty, and the simplicity of his heart. – Christ wants us to be available so that he can display his power through us, his truth through us.
11
Almost everyone considered him mad. But he did not care, nor did he answer them. He strove with all eagerness to fulfill the task God had shown him. – The Christian is another Jesus.
12
He walked not in the learned words of human wisdom, but in the display and power of the Spirit. – When Christ becomes the rule of life, then his life becomes ours.
13
Two men of Assisi inspired by divine grace, humbly approached him…We wish to live with you from now on … Tell us, therefore, what we should do … (Francis) answered them kindly: Let us go and seek counsel from the Lord.  –  Conscience can never be covered up; guilt will always come out.
14
They fell on their knees and humbly prayed: Lord, God, Father of glory, we beg you in your mercy, show us what we are to do … They immediately found the passage: If you wish to be perfect, go, sell everything you possess and give to the poor, and you will have a treasure in heaven. – Conscience bothers us when it is not where it is supposed to be
15
Having no place to stay, they went and found a poor and nearly abandoned church called Saint Mary of the Portiuncula,.  There they built a small dwelling where they lived together. – Every atheist is afraid of the dark. You don’t find atheists in foxholes.
16
They were filled with a great joy, as if they had acquired an immense treasure.  They were able to rejoice so much because they had forsaken so much, and considered as dung the things over which people usually grieve. – It is not man who is on the quest for God.  It is God who is on the quest for man
17
The man of God … would encourage men and women to fear and love the Creator of heaven and earth and to do penance for their sins. – We need to fall in love with the Lord.
18
Even though hardly anyone followed them, people remained nevertheless in awe at the holy way of life which they seemed to be marked for the Lord’s sake. – When we love the Lord, we want to be one with him.  That is love’s first effect.
19
They suffered extreme want.  Even their relatives and families would persecute them.  Others from that city – great and small, men and women – would scorn and ridicule them as senseless and stupid, except for the city’s bishop to whom the blessed Francis frequently went to seek counsel. – In prayer we shrug off the burdens of the world.
20
One day … the bishop told (Francis): It seems to me that your life is very rough and hard … The saint of God answered: Lord, if we had possessions, we would need arms to protect them because they cause many disputes and lawsuits,.  And possessions usually impede the love of God and neighbor. Therefore, we do not want to possess anything in this world. – There will be a shrinking from the blessed sacrament whenever there is not a good spiritual attitude in the soul.
21
Calling together his six brothers in the woods next to Saint Mary of the Portiuncula … (Francis) told them: My dear brothers, let us consider our calling because God has mercifully called us not only for our own good but also for the salvation of many… – When we are used to seeing his divinity through the species of bread, then we will be better at seeing the image of God in people.
22
(Francis told his brothers) Let us go through the world encouraging and teaching men and women by word and example to do penance for their sins and to remember the Lord’s commandments, which they have forgotten for such a long time … – God does not abandon us; he makes us according to his liking, whatever it happens to be. We are not abandoned.
23
He also told them: Do not be afraid, little flock, but have confidence in the Lord.  And do not say among yourselves ‘We are simple and illiterate men …’ But be mindful of the Lord’s words to his disciples: ‘You yourselves will not be the speakers; the Spirit of your Father will speaking in you’. – The world we live in is the battleground of the church.
24
These devout servants of the Lord … seemed to differ from all others … When they entered a city, town or a home, they would announce peace.  Whenever they saw men or women on the streets or in the piazzas … they would encourage them to fear and love the Creator of heaven and earth … – We live in a world that challenges us. Our summons is to resist the current that carries so many downstream.
25
Some asked them: Where do you come from?  While others asked: To which Order do you belong? They answered simply: We are penitents and we were born in Assisi. – As with Gideon, God is thinning our ranks now as then, because we are preparing for a stronger and more holy church.
26
(The brothers) suffered all these things with constancy and patience …When people saw them rejoicing in their tribulations and enduring them patiently for the Lord, unceasing in very devout prayer, neither accepting nor carrying money…possessing such a great love for one another … many of them, by the kindness of the Lord, experienced a change of heart. – The Holy Spirit always works through minorities, never through majorities.
27
They were rooted and founded in love and humility … They all dedicated themselves wholeheartedly to obedience … They abstained from carnal desires and, in order to avoid being judged, they judged themselves carefully … They sought to combat each vice with a corresponding virtue. – We draw strength from our suffering sisters and brothers.
28
(Francis) used to revere prelates and priests of the holy Church.  He would respect the elderly, and honored the noble and the wealthy.  He loved the poor intimately and showed compassion to them.  In a word, he showed himself to be subject to all. – We must realize in minds and hearts that the only argument left to convince others is holiness.
29
If any brother … experienced … some kind of trial, the temptation would go away either on hearing blessed Francis … or on seeing his presence.  For he spoke to them compassionately, not as a judge, but as a father to his children and a doctor to his patient … – The world has heard every other argument, and it is ready to reject them all, all except one: holiness.
30
He carried God in his heart, praised Him with his lips, and glorified Him with his deeds … Wanting to show the love He had for him, the Lord impressed on his members and his side the stigmata of His most beloved Son … – Does the crucifix mean anything to us? Or do we look for Christ without the cross?
31
Meditate earnestly on the things recorded … understand them correctly, and strive in deed to fulfill them, so we may deserve to share with them in the glory of heaven. May our Lord Jesus Christ lead us to this glory. – Drawing closer to the light of Christ, our fears are gone, remorse is swallowed up in the intense love of Christ.

Father Francis' Reflections for June

june_small
June 2016
All-powerful, most holy, Almighty and supreme God,
Holy and just Father, Lord King of heaven and earth
we thank You for Yourself, for through Your holy will
and through Your only Son with the holy Spirit
You have created everything spiritual and corporal
… making us in Your own image and likeness,…
We thank You…
Following are excerpts taken from various Franciscan writings
Daily meditative phrases based from Saint Pope John Paul II
1
The truly clean of heart are those who look down upon earthly things, seek those of heaven, and, with a clean heart and spirit, never cease adoring and seeing the Lord God living and true – Let yourselves be charmed by Christ…attracted by his example…loved by the love of the Holy Spirit…fall in love with Jesus Christ.
2
We carry Him (Jesus) in our heart and body through love and a pure and sincere conscience; and give Him birth through a holy activity, which must shine before others by example. (Letter to Faithful) – Do not be afraid! Open wide the doors to Christ!…Open to his saving power.
3
He taught them to mortify not only vices and to check the promptings of the flesh, but also to check the external senses, through which death enters the soul. – Human beings are called to become disciples of that Other One who infinitely transcends them, in order to enter at last into true life. » Click to continue reading “Father Francis’ Reflections for June” »

Reflections for May

May 2016

 

Hail, O Lady, holy Queen, you are the virgin made church

and the one chosen by the most holy Father in heaven

whom He consecrated with His most holy beloved Son

and with the Holy Spirit the Paraclete,

in whom there was and is all the fullness of grace and every good.

Hail, His Palace! Hail, His, Tabernacle! Hail, His Home!

Hail, His Robe! Hail, His Servant!  Hail, His Mother!

And hail all you holy virtues which through the grace and light of the Holy Spirit

are poured into the hearts of the faithful so that from

their faithless state you may make them faithful to God.

(Salutation of the Blessed Virgin)

 

Following are excerpts taken from various Franciscan Sources

Daily meditative phrases based on: Words of Pope John Paul II

1

Learn from me for I am meek and humble of heart…Whether on the lips of Christ or St. Francis, they are a short and succinct saying, which in concise and plain terms expresses the sum total of gospel perfection. – Nourish within yourself the sense of God’s presence by listening to his word, by prayer, by the celebration of the sacraments, by service to your brothers and sisters.

2

To encourage us he says: Learn from me, and to inspire us he adds: For I am meek and humble of heart…The words…can give encouragement: Take me as our model of discipleship and embrace my teaching. – Become heralds and witnesses to the loving and saving presence of God in today’s world.

3

The essence of true discipleship of Jesus Christ, which was singularly realized and shone in Saint Francis, consists first of all in separating oneself from the company of evil people…from evil and divisive company. – To forgive is the only way, because all revenge and all violence give rise to further revenge and violence.

4

Second, it is essential for true discipleship to free oneself from useless cares in the affairs of life.  Anyone who is anxious about useless things cannot give attention to those that are profitable. – It is certainly less difficult to forgive when one is aware that God never tires of loving and forgiving us.

5

It is impossible, or at least very difficult, to have great possessions without being preoccupied with them…Taking this to heart, Saint Francis on hearing God’s voice at once gave everything away to the extent that he did not keep back a stitch to cover his nakedness. –  Who does not need God’s forgiveness?

6

This is what anyone must do who desires to be a perfect disciple of Christ…If one does not have the will to do that, one must at least keep oneself from the cares, anxieties and vanities that go with possessions; otherwise one will be a disciple not of Christ but of the devil. – Without God we cannot understand ourselves, and cannot even fulfill ourselves.

7

Third, the true disciple must rid himself of inordinate attachment to his loved ones…The Lord does not forbid us to love our father and mother…; what he does forbid is to be inordinately attached to our parents, because inordinate attachment rejects the teaching of Christ. – The contemplation of Christ has an incomparable model in Mary.  In a unique way the face of the Son belongs to Mary.

8

Fourth, the true disciple of Christ must purify his heart of all that militates against the practice of virtue. – When one goes through difficult times…nothing can replace an ardent, personal, and confident faith that is open to the Lord.

9

You will not be able to learn holiness from Christ unless you have resolved to eradicate its opposite, sinfulness, just as knowledge cannot be acquires unless satisfaction with its opposite, ignorance, has been uprooted.- In every person we meet, even in those who openly profess not to be interested in the things of the Spirit, the need of God is real.

10

Saint Francis strove with constant signs of sorrow to root out vice and sin totally from the field of his heart. Nor did he cease to lament up to the moment when he was found worthy to hear from God: Your sins are forgiven. – It is the task of believers to bear witness to the liberating truth of the gospel, offering the light of Christ to everyone.

11

Saint Francis, then, can rightly say, Learn from me, that is, take me as our model of discipleship, for I am a true disciple of Christ…Likewise he can say to us…embrace my teaching, because by being a true disciple, he became an authentic teacher.- A sign of the power of God is the witness borne by missionaries…shining with the glory of those who sacrificed themselves to save the lives of others.

12

(St. Francis) taught what he himself had learned without error because of the truth of God’s revelation…The teaching which anyone receives from revelation cannot be other than true. – If human beings with their intelligence fail to recognize God as Creator of all, it is…because their free will and their sinfulness place an impediment in the way.

13

To arrive at knowledge without a human teacher is not for everyone, but the privilege of a few.  Though the Lord himself chose to teach Saint Paul and Saint Francis, it is his will that disciples be taught by human teachers. – In her motherly concern, the Blessed Virgin came to Fatima to ask men and women to ‘stop offending God, our Lord, who is already very offended’.  It is a mother’s sorrow that compels her to speak; the destiny of her children is at stake.

14

He taught what he had learned without guile…That is to say, as ardent love brought me to learn without guile, so it moves me to share without jealousy or grudging envy what I have learned. – The Holy Spirit…takes from Christ and transmits to all, unceasingly entering into the history of the world through the heart of man.

15

He learned with such diligence that he became teacher of many disciples whom he taught to think of the Lord with uprightness and seek him with sincerity of heart, because he is found by those who do not put him to the test, and manifests himself to those who do not distrust him. – Justice will never be fully attained unless people see in the poor person … not an annoyance or a burden, but an opportunity for showing kindness and a chance for greater enrichment.

16

He taught what he learned without forgetting it, because he put it into practice…and because of that he was an excellent teacher … He did not acquire his knowledge by reflecting in general terms on a limited number of truths, but by individual experience over a wide range of life – The true Christian can nurture a trustful optimism, because he is certain of not walking alone.

17

Saint Francis learned…by experiencing sufferings not joys…At the outset of his conversion Saint Francis experienced derision, beatings, fetters, imprisonment, destitution, nakedness, and adversity. – In sending us Jesus, the eternal Son made man, God has drawn near to each of us.

18

He taught what he had learned without doubting because of the trustworthy signs he was given…and so like the Apostle (Paul) he went forth and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with him and confirmed the message by the signs that attended it. – In Christ (God) has become our traveling companion.

19

It pleased the Lord to endorse and confirm the teaching and Rule of St. Francis, not only by miraculous signs, but also by the marks of his own stigmata, so that no true believer could possibly call them into question on external or internal evidence. – Wherever people are praying in the world, there the Holy Spirit is, the living breath of prayer.

20

It pleased God in his goodness to affix his own seal to the Rule and teaching of Saint Francis…God revealed to him the entire Rule…Christ, having recognized the teaching of Saint Francis as his own, affixed the seal of his stigmata to his body, and thereby irrevocably confirmed his teaching. – Man cannot live without hope.

21

His teaching could not have had its lasting character, in the eyes of others, from Saint Francis himself, for he was an uneducated merchant and no learned doctor. Therefore, it was the Lord’s good pleasure to confirm it…so that none of the learned could dare despise his teaching and Rule as only the efforts of an uneducated man. – Christian hope ‘does not disappoint’, because it is based on the solid foundation of faith in the love of God revealed in Christ.

22

Anyone who doubts that the doctrine and Rule of Saint Francis are a more perfect way to reach eternal life, when these have been confirmed by such signs, must be exceedingly hard of heart. – Is not the enraptured gaze of Mary as she contemplated the face of the newborn Christ and cradled him in her arms that unparalleled model of love which should inspire us every time we receive Eucharistic Communion?

23

The whole world ought to give thanks to the Most High Creator for his sublime gift, that by the stigmata imprinted on Saint Francis, he deigned not only to reveal the way of truth, but to establish it in a wondrous way and for readily intelligible reasons. – Believers testify by their deeds that the good news is not limited to the proclamation of abstract truths, but becomes concrete in a charity that can take the form of struggling against the injustices found in the world.

24

If we raise our minds a little and consider the stigmata in terms of supernatural causes, we discover…This miracle was made necessary under the law of divine providence, for the needs of the church in this final age and because of Saint Francis’ eminent holiness. – May dialogue, solidarity, and love prevail over the many forms of pride and deceit.

25

The law of divine providence required it because God willed to make this cloth merchant a fisher of men, and the leader of those who imitate Christ perfectly.  Therefore, he handed over to him his own ensign, namely, the marks of the Crucified Lord. –  Put the defense of the basic rights of the human person above every other consideration.

26

At the beginning of the Church unbelief held sway…in these latter times, he bestowed the signs of goodness and mercy on Saint Francis to enkindle love, and what are the signs of consummate love except the marks of the passion which God chose to endure for us out of measureless love? – Friendship lived with the sensitivity of the gospel is an effective way of being Christian in the world.

27

This miracle was made necessary because of Saint Francis’ eminent holiness which found expression in his most fervent love of the Crucified Lord.  For the sake of that love he so weakened his eyes by tears of compassion that he lost his sight. – Friendship becomes a reconciling force…needed in our time.

28

Such is the power of love, that it transforms the lover into the Beloved. Love of the Crucified Lord was supremely and gloriously aflame in his heart, and so the Crucified himself, in the form of the Seraph, and angelic spirit burning with the fire of love, appeared before his saintly eyes and imprinted the sacred stigmata on his body. – A productive and sure program of formation for joy is nourished and rests on assiduous prayer, frequent Communion, rediscovery of the use of the Sacraments of Reconciliation, daily and familiar contact with the word of God, the fruitful exercise of fraternal charity and service; and then devotion to Our Lady, the model and true cause of our joy.

29

Because Saint Francis set Christ crucified as a seal upon his arm, the precious gems of the stigmata of Jesus Christ appeared visibly on his body. – Christ…became man to reveal the eternal love of the Creator and Father and to make known the dignity of each one of us.

30

Let no one begrudge God’s generosity, but let everyone listen to and learn the teaching of Christ, indeed, of Saint Francis, that good teacher who taught others what he had learned without error, without guile, without forgetfulness, and without doubting. – Whenever violence is done in the name of religion…make it clear…we are not dealing with true religion. For the Almighty cannot tolerate the destruction of his own image in his children.

31

Saint Francis, therefore, can rightly say: Learn from me, to encourage others, and equally, for I am meek and humble of heart, to impress them. –  Remembering that the Son of God became man, we must become conscious of how great each one of us has become because of this mystery!  (Give thanks to Mary for saying ‘Yes’ to the Father)

 

 

Reflections for April 2016

April 2016

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

Following are daily excerpts taken from various Franciscan writings

Daily meditative phrases from  Praying  Scripture  in  a  Contemporary  Way

 

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. (2Celano,bk.1,chpt.1) – 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. (1 Celano,bk.1,chpt.5) – 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. (1Celano,bk.1,chpt.5) – 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… (1Celano,bk.1,chpt.2) – 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. (Major Legend,chpt.1,#3) – 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. (1Celano,bk.1,chpt.14) – 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. (1Celano,bk.1,chpt.14) – 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’…(2Celano,bk.2,chpt.88) – 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.’ (2Celano,bk.2,chpt.88) – 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.  (2Celano,bk.2,chpt.88) –  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! (1Celano,bk.2,chpt.7) – 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. (Mirror Perfection, #96) – 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. (Mirror Perfection, #96) – 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. (Mirror of Perfection,#96) – 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. (2Celano,bk.2,chpt.91) – 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. (Earlier Rule,#7) – 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. (Three Companions,chpt.12) – 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. (Anonymous of Perugia,chpt.6) – 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. (Anonymous of Perugia,chpt.6) – 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. (Three Companions,chpt.11) – 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. (Admonitions,#20) – 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. (Legend of Perugia,#38) – 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. (Mirror of Perfection,#95) – 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. (Mirror of Perfection,#95) – 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. (1Celano,chpt.29) – 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. (2Celano,bk.2,chpt.89) – 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. (Major Legend,.chpt.2)  – 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. (Admonitions,#27) – 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.’ (Mirror of Perfection,#121) – 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. (Major Legend,chpt.14) – You cannot have God for your Father, if you don’t have the Church for your mother.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DAILY REFLECTIONS FROM FR. FRANCIS – MARCH, 2016

sacred_heart_june_08March 2016

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.

(Conclusion of the Letter to the Entire Order)

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.

4

His words were like and ardent fire that penetrated the depths of the heart and filled the mind with admiration; … (his preaching) had the aroma and essence of divine revelation (Major Legend,chpt.12) – The fact that we fall is not important, but the hopeful effect of the fall to make us turn to God…is such a necessary lesson that it outweighs the fall and soothes the hurt.

5

He always used simple and very practical examples when preaching to the uneducated people, for he realized that virtue is more important than (stylish) words (Major Legen,chpt.12) – When faith joins hands with reason, their union bears the happiest fruits of spiritual understanding and heavenly wisdom; but the way to that union is paved with difficulties.

6

When proclaiming the word of the Lord before thousands of people, he was calm and confident, as though he were speaking with his brother and companion (2Celano,chpt.107) – Human weaknesses do not hinder God’s work in the soul, while human pride does.

7

From the purity of his heart he acquired the self-assurance of his words; even when he was unexpectedly invited to preach, he spoke marvelous things that had not been heard before (2Celano,chpt.107) – Pray in faith and you will obtain all you need…Jesus never disappoints.

8

He did not offer excuses for those living sinful lives, but he chastised them firmly, having himself practiced what he was now asking others to do (1Celano,chpt.36) – Faith is the greatest power on earth, and prayer its exercise.

9

He was speaking with such fire of spirit that he could not contain himself for joy. As he brought forth the word from his mouth, he moved his feet as if dancing, not playfully, but burning with then fire of divine love, not provoking laughter but moving them to tears of sorrow. (1Celano,chpt.27) – Petitionary prayer increases faith…Grow in faith by practicing prayer; and practice prayer by asking God for what you need…

10

Let no brother preach contrary to the rite and practice of the Church or without the permission of his minister. Let the minister be careful of granting it without discernment to anyone. (Earlier Rule,chpt.17) – It is not easy to ask, because petition is submission, is dependence, is humility and is commitment.

11

Let all the brother, however, preach by their deeds. No minister or preacher may make a ministry of the brothers or the office of preaching his own, but, when he is told, let him set it aside without objection. (Earlier Rule,chpt.17) – To pray is to anticipate the parousia, i.e. May the Kingdom come today in token and in sign, so that it may come one day in its fullness.

12

I admonish and exhort those brothers that when they preach their language be well-considered and chaste for the benefit and edification of them people, announcing to them vices and virtues, punishment and glory, with brevity, because our Lord when on earth kept his word brief. (Later Rule,chpt.9) – The danger of prayer is that we very correctly pray for ‘the right things’, with no desire to receive them.

13

He wanted ministers of the word of God to be intent on spiritual study and not hindered by other duties. He said that these men were heralds chosen by a great king to deliver to the people the decrees received from his mouth. (2Celano,chpt.122) – Prayer, when made with sincerity, brings us face to face with God and makes us deal with him person to person..

14

The preacher must first secretly draw in by prayer what he later pours in sacred preaching; he must first of all grow warm on the inside, or he will speak frozen words on the outside. (2Celano,chpt.122) – When we have some years behind us and look back on life, and come to realize how wise God was in not granting some of our prayers, we may even thank Him for not giving us what we did not know for what we were asking.

15

We should honor and revere all theologians and those who minister to us the words of God, as those who minister to us ‘spirit and life’. (2Celano,chpt.122) – Our view of things is of necessity short, biased and selfish, and we grab impatiently the quick relief when the true benefit would be the long endurance.

16

He…directed himself to invoke the grace of the Holy Spirit. Suddenly he began to overflow with such effective eloquence and to move the minds of the high-ranking men to compunction with such force and power that it was clearly evident it was not he, but the Spirit of the Lord who was speaking. (Major Legend,chpt.12) – God can well answer a prayer for escape with a grace to endure. Instead of removing the trial, God grants the strength to, go through it.

17

In the presence of the Cardinal, Francis addressed himself to the brothers and said: ‘Christ…has told me: ‘I want you…by word and work to preach the folly of the cross’. (Angelo Clareno) – ‘Lord, give me what is best for me’…can you pray this without conditions or hesitating?

18

We are mothers when we carry Him in our heart and body through a divine love and a pure and sincere conscience and give birth to Him through a holy activity which must shine as an example before others. (Letter to the Faithful,chpt.1) – The courage to pray in the face of rejection brings us close to Jesus himself in the deepest moment of his life.

19

A person is as learned as his actions show; and a religious is only as good a preacher as his actions show; for a good tree is known only by its fruit. (Mirror of Perfection,chpt.1,#4) – Every unanswered prayer is Gethsemane.

20

As you announce peace with your mouth, make sure that greater peace is in your hearts. Let non one be provoked to anger or scandal through you, but may everyone be drawn to peace, kindness, and harmony through your gentleness. For we have been called to this: to heal the wounded, bind up the broken, and recall the erring…(Three Companions,chpt.14) – Faith has to be tried in order to be itself, and the greatest trial for the believer is to feel abandoned by God.

21

A preacher must be wept over, as over someone without real piety, who in preaching seeks not the salvation of souls, but his own praise, or who destroys with the depravation of his life what he builds up with the truth of teaching. (Major Legend,chpt.8) – Suffering is not a problem to be discussed, but a reality, dark and painful though it is, to be lived.

22

The lord Pope confirmed their Rule and authorized them to preach in whatever church they so desired, after, out of respect and reverence, they requested permission from the prelate of the place. (Jacques de Vitry) – Life, whatever it is, is a test, and our reactions to its vicissitudes mark the path to our future, whatever again that may be.

23

He (Pope Innocent III) granted what was asked and promised even more. He approved the rule, gave them a mandate to preach penance, and had small tonsures given to all the lay brothers, who were accompanying the servant of God, so that they could freely preach the word of God (Major Legend,chpt.3) – The one redeeming trait of suffering is that it helps to bring out love.

24

The brothers must not have large churches built in order to preach to the people or for any other reason, for there is greater humility and better example when they go to other churches to preach.(Mirror of Perfection,chpt.1,#10) – God has come to do what he could not do in his heaven: to suffer with man. The cross of Christ is the meeting point of suffering humanity.

25

On Sundays and Feast Days, they leave their small dwellings and go to preach the word of life in the parish churches. (Roger of Wendover) – The infiniteness of God in the concreteness of a man, a few years that span eternity, a limited presence that fills creation…is Jesus!

26

The prelates of the church saw these documents (Papal documents approving the Order and the brothers’ preaching) and having verified their authenticity, generously permitted the brothers to build, live and preach in their dioceses.(Three Companions) – If the Son of Man can make the Father present, so can we, in our smallness and poverty, reflect his glory till he comes.

27

He used to say that, because of the office of prelacy or of zeal for preaching, they should not abandon holy and devout prayer, going for alms, working at times with their hands, and performing other humble tasks like the other brothers, for good example and for the benefit of their souls, as well as others. (Mirror of Perfection,chpt.3,#73) – We are signs in the Sign.

28

The blessed father knew through the Holy Spirit and even repeated it many times to the brothers, that many brothers, under pretext of edifying others, would abandon their vocation, that is, holy humility, pure simplicity, prayer, devotion, and our Lady Poverty…because they will think themselves to be more imbued and filled with devotion…and enlightened by knowledge of God because of their understanding of the Scriptures. (Mirror of Perfection,chpt..3,#72) – Faith is the capacity to be disturbed, to let God into one’s life, to cope with the unusual and to be surprised into glory.

29

He felt deeply sorry for those preachers who often sell what they do for the price of some empty praise. (2Celano,chpt.123) – Faith, in turn, is the capacity to disturb others, not in the obnoxious pride of inconsiderate manners, but in the humble role of carriers of faith…reflecting with delegated light the presence and the demands of the One Sign.

30

The preacher who rejoices over many as though they were born through his power will then discover that he has nothing of his own in them. (2Celano,chpt.123) – The path of God’s people across the desert into the promised land is marked by altars…remember the past in order to trust for the future.

31

He had little love for those who would rather be praised as orators than as preachers or for those who speak with elegance rather than feeling. He said that they divided things badly, putting everything in preaching and nothing in devotion. But he would praise that preacher who takes time to taste and eat a bit himself. (2Celano,chpt.123) – Remember, God does not do things by halves…God follows up what he begins…‘The Lord will accomplish his purpose for me. Your true love, O Lord, endures forever: do not leave unfinished the work of our hands’.