January, 2023, Thought for the Day by Father Francis Sariego, OFM Cap

Holy and Happy New Year 2023!

January 2023

The Tree of the Crucified Life of Jesus 

Book 5, Chapter 3 

[The Virtues of Austerity, Humility, and Obedience] 

 

1

So now, let us return to the perfection of Francis, whose identification with the angel of the sixth seal is borne out not only by external witnesses but by the excellence of his own life. He 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. – As soon as we are in faith and in love, we are in prayer

2

And 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. 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. – He who does not praise God here on earth shall eternally be dumb.

3

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. There, despite its rather moderate treatment, you have enough about his amazing austerities to weigh in your mind. The fact is that the Blessed Jesus, virginal Son born of virginity, saw fit to transfuse purity into him, since complete cleanness cannot live in tainted flesh without a continuous crucifixion of self. That is why the most pious Jesus, in order to help us come to an austere crucifixion of our corrupt flesh for the preservation of purity, afflicted His own sacred flesh with many a cross as long as He lived. Francis, his true son and imitator, taking this to heart, disciplined himself so rigidly in regard to food, clothing, lodgings, sleep, and other similar bodily demands, that he scarcely took the minimum required to sustain nature. – Begin the day with God and it is probable that you will end the day with Him and in goodness.

4

And although, after prolonged penance, his blameless body needed no chastising for any wrong, he continued to inflict hardships and burdens on it, keeping to harsher ways for the sake of others. 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. In order to achieve full purity of heart he completely abstained from all familiarities which might inwardly defile him and give bad example to others. – Pray that no crisis hour may find you unprepared.

5

This meant that he recognized the face of hardly any woman. He further ordered every effort made to avoid, as a plague to purity, intimate dealings with women. It was because he was aware of spending his days in a valley of tears, that he was habitually weeping. All of this meant that he had become so candid in mind, so clean in heart, that he seemed to have attained the state of innocence at that time. For, as we read in his Legend, he had practically all creatures, even the inanimate, at his command; a level of grace, indeed, in which he surpassed natural innocence. There were instances of fire tempering its heat, water changing taste, the night sky shining like day, and a dry rock yielding a delicious spring. Thus did the elements put themselves at the service of the unspoiled Francis. – To the one who waits all things reveal themselves. Patience.

6

In deep humility and in eradicating all mundane glamor, 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. – When the Church (we) is different from the world, she (we) invariably attracts it.

7

He certainly wanted to promote the salvation of souls; but only through the virtue of humility, not with pompous power. And though it is very true that he had several Supreme Pontiffs at his beck and call—men who held him in the highest regard, sincerely convinced of his sanctity—even so, he would never ask for or accept any privilege that might diminish his being a humble subject. – Never be diffident and/or apologetic about the Gospel.

8

For he wished to be subject to all, and in this lowly subordination to be sacrificed for all in the charity of Christ. Well did he know humility to be pliant: it is like something soft yielding to something resistant while, in effect, enclosing it inside its own softness; unlike inflexibility confronting inflexibility and bringing to naught both itself and its rival. For this reason Francis, in his holy Testament, forbids all the 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 Christian must have the strength to see the good side of things.

9

The humble Francis used to say that when they meekly asked permission of bishops and priests, they were by their example edifying the very pastors of the Church. Then even if they refused permission, patience and humility will bring them to change their minds; meanwhile they themselves, by bearing the refusal patiently, will keep intact a virtuous and flawless way of acting. – If the Gospel really means “good news” then being a Christian means to be a happy person.

10

But if, on the strength of some privilege, the brothers presumptuously go against prelates’ wishes, they are not behaving humbly and they only tempt prelates of lofty heart to oppose and malign them. This results in a collision involving two tough courses of action, both of which cause scandal. And so, the word of truth is preached ineffectively, since no humility is shown by the one getting up to speak. – Gloomy faces are not made for the happy house of Paradise (St. Philip Neri)

11

If, on the other hand, prelates once or twice or even three times bar the brothers from preaching, and each time they react with humility and patience, then their conduct does the preaching to the people. Their holy example will soften the prelate’s heart, who will not only give them permission but will look for them, so eager will he be to hear the preaching of such saintly brothers. The preaching of one such sermon will have a more uplifting effect than a thousand preached in a mood of contention and diminished humility. – You cannot say anything is a failure until it has been tried. Christianity works. Try it!

12

The truth of this was shown by Francis himself in the incident, mentioned in the Legend, with the bishop of Imola. Oh, how abundantly plain it is that Francis’s approach was the more efficacious one! For there are so many around at the moment who are carried away with the “authority” they have and who brook no opposition; and yet one seldom is aware of any change of heart resulting from all their verbose sermons. – Christianity has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found hard and not tried.

13

To brothers who troubled him over their reluctance to be at this low level of submissiveness to everyone, he replied in deeply plaintive tones: “My brothers, my brothers, what you want of me is to give up overcoming the world. For Christ sent me to overcome the world by being really subject to everyone, so that by love I might draw souls to Him through the example of humility.” – Joy is the serious business of heaven.

14

And he went on: “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. 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 this I advance in virtue, and the people advance in the mercy that saves them.” – Sour godliness is the devil’s religion.

15

Things like this he told his brothers, as he wanted to rule out for them all affectation of 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. – Happiness is a wonderful commodity, the more you give, the more you have.

16

He once said to his patron, the lord bishop of Ostia: “If your lordship wants them to be fruitful in the Church, keep them in the state to which they were called and give them no permission whatever to rise to ecclesiastical prelacy.” As to how productive those are who have risen to ecclesiastical state from this and other Orders dedicated to poverty, those that know of it tell how grieved they are at their extravagance. For everybody knows well enough that their ascent to rank spelled their descent from virtue. – Contentment consists not in great wealth, but in few wants.

17

Much of their behavior proves that what they sought in promotion was not so much an improvement of others’ 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. They left the world when they joined their Orders, and as soon as they got rank, they returned to it. – No one has the right to consume happiness without producing it.

18

While they grease the palms of the mighty, they give no thought to the poor. They used to be the preachers, zealous for the salvation of souls; now they are among the worst offenders in neglecting souls. With every breath they collect temporalities for themselves and the benefit of their families. From the time they were infants in their Orders, poverty left them with nothing; now they seem bent on compensating themselves for that. Oh, what a true prophet Francis was! – The most evident sign of wisdom is continued cheerfulness.

19

And what misfortunes this promotion business has brought on the Orders! For the intention of those striving seems to focus on this; in those that have some competence this ambition seems to boil up. So, they do the rounds of the curiae and make sure they lodge with dignitaries, on whom they fawn. Far from refusing favors, they procure them by all manner of contrivance, shrewdness, sham, and sophistry. – To get the full value of joy you must have somebody with whom to share it.

20

They have reached the point where the saying is verified in them, “Like people, like priest”; indeed, like cleric, like ambitious and wandering religious. Is it any wonder that those who enter into this have no morally uplifting effect on people, but only cause them distress? All this is to say but little; words fail me to describe the malice of the times we live in. – Those who bring sunshine to the lives others cannot keep it from themselves.

21

In contrast, 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, up to the manifestation of the Church’s sixth status, 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. It is then that those who are like new apostles will be described as the pillars of the future status, as Christ expressly promised the angel of Philadelphia, in which there is doubtless a figurative reference to this status. – Happiness is a perfume you cannot pour on others without getting a few drops on yourself.

22

Therefore it was said to him, that “he has little power,” that is to say, he has glorious humility. For the status of poverty first had to be tried in humility, so that afterward in a prelacy it might not be judged as a thing of high standing. Because there are many who cloak their pride and, unsupported by privileges, cannot put up with clerical harassment, we can give a twofold reply based on sayings of the blessed Francis. – The sweet mark of a Christian is not faith, or even love, but joy.

23

One is that to men of perfection, which these are supposed to be, 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. And if you speak of the many tribulations the clergy often inflict upon them and to which they are unequal, we must respond that such people simply should not embark on the way of perfection and, with their immaturity, wreck a state of perfection. – Joy is the awareness of God’s loving presence within you.

24

Another rejoinder might be that these are the people who from the outset stood up to the clergy, while commandeering revenue—even though in a less obviously greedy way—by means of questing for alms and devotional stipends for Masses. For these reasons the clergy came down even harder on them. But if they had kept their humility and poverty intact, harassment would have been sweetly borne; besides, they couldn’t have had much to suffer, since they wouldn’t have had anything to lose! – Every act formed by charity is a revelation of God.

25

Francis wanted them to flee to another place and do penance, if they were persecuted in one place instead of standing on privileges. He used to teach, according to the Gospel which we have promised to observe, that Jesus himself says: If they persecute you in one town, take refuge in the next. The most sacred Testament of the holy father Francis repeats this. But how will this sound to those who, in the style of magnates build splendid residences, can scarcely be pulled away from where they grew up, even by order of those over them, and cannot tolerate holy brothers of other regions living in the same place? – When we have learned to do the Father’s will, we shall have realized our vocation on earth.

26

Those types have nothing in common with Francis; their portion, it is to be feared, must be in the devil’s hands. But when they gladly hear that Francis and his state is the Church’s reformation and the nourishment of the world, if he wanted others to be subject, how will they reform in pride? What we just said is true; for it is a fact that, apart from the blessed 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. – Our vocation is to live in the Spirit.

27

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—something that will happen to these conceited corrupters of the status, much as they will dislike it. 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 vocation of each person merges up to a certain point with his very being.

28

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. Still, he foresaw that there were sure to be those unprincipled enough to make the road of obedience a difficult one, issuing orders that contravened the poverty of the Rule while imposing absolute obedience on those under them. That is why he put in place a restraining clause to protect subjects, as well as those over them, when he told ministers not to be commanding 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. – Not the “job” but our faithfulness to God will ultimately be what leads us to the fullness of life.

29

This form of obedience, which the Rule contains, flows from the heart of him who said of himself, I have come from heaven, not to do my own will, but to do the will of Him who sent me; and to the Pharisees, who were imposing their traditions on the disciples: You have made God’s word ineffective by means of your tradition. For 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 derives his authority from the Rule, that to command or obey something contrary to it is to apostatize from the Rule. But do we want to go on further with Francis’s idea of obedience? – The service that counts is the service that costs.

30

He himself, after all, was in everything the least of all the lesser ones. Well might we compare him to the tiniest of infants, Joash, who was rescued from the slaughter of Athalia; or to the smallest of all the seeds, the grain of mustard seed which grew into a great tree; or to the least of all the saints, as Paul calls himself in Ephesians, entrusted though he was with announcing hidden mysteries. “To me, the least of all the saints, is given this grace, to preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ: and to enlighten all people, that they may see what is the dispensation of the mystery which has been hidden from eternity in God.” – God forces no one, for love cannot compel. God’s service is a thing of complete freedom. 

31

He might also be compared to Benjamin, the smallest of his brothers, who in many ways was a type of Francis: Benjamin, in his birth, killed his mother; Francis, born in the midst of the fifth age, in the fullness of his birth through his reformed Rule, killed its self-indulgence. Benjamin, in his sojourn, dwelt with his father in the land of Canaan, and his father’s life depended upon his life; Francis fully observed always, by the will of the eternal Father in heaven, a life of fervent Christ-like love, and what pleased the will of the Father was his adornment and repose. – We find freedom when we find God.

 

 

 

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

December 2022 

O admirable heights and sublime lowliness! 

O sublime humility! O humble sublimity! 

That the Lord of the universe, 

God and the Son of God, 

so humbles Himself 

that for our salvation 

He hides Himself 

under the little form of bread! 

Look, brothers, at the humility of God 

and pour out your hearts before Him! 

Humble yourselves, as well, 

that you may be exalted by Him. 

Therefore, hold back nothing of yourselves for yourselves 

so that He Who gives Himself totally to you 

may receive you totally. 

The Tree of the Crucified Life of Jesus 

Book Five 

Chapter Three 

JESUS WHO BRINGS FORTH FRANCIS 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

10 

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

11 

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

12 

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

 

[Imitator of Christ] 

13 

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

14 

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

15 

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

16 

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

17 

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

18 

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

19 

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

20 

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

21 

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

22 

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

23 

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

24 

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

25 

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

26 

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

27 

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

[Witness of John of Parma] 

28 

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

29 

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

30 

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

31  

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

Blessed and Happy New Year 2023 

 

Thoughts for the day – November 2022 – by Father Francis Sariego, OFM Cap

November 2022 

 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)  

November celebrates Life Everlasting of those in God=s Glory and those in God=s Mercy 

 THE SAYINGS 

Sayings of the Companions of Blessed Francis 

An Old Legend (Legenda Vetus) 

 ON THE FUTURE EVIL STATE OF THE BROTHERS, WHICH SAINT FRANCIS PREDICTED 

1  

Saint Francis predicted the following before the Lord of Ostia and many brothers, and often preached this to the people, as the companions who heard it, Brother Bernard, Brother Leo, and Brother Angelo, have testified. His brothers, by the working of evil spirits, would turn aside from the way of holy simplicity and highest poverty. They would receive money, legacies, and bequests. Abandoning poor little solitary places, they would build sumptuous places in towns and cities, which would not demonstrate poverty, but the luxury of the world of lords and princes. – When the Church is different from the world then it will attract it

And, with great craftiness and human prudence, they would seek and receive from the Church and the Supreme Pontiffs privileges that would not only mitigate but even destroy the purity of their promised rule and life, revealed to them by Christ. Equipped with these, in their pride they will start quarrels and inflict harm not only on people of the world but also on the clergy and religious. They will dig the pit into which they will finally fall, and sow the seed from which many scandals will be reaped. – Be humble and self-forgetting, but never apologize for the Gospel

And Christ will send them one worthy of their worth, not a shepherd but a destroyer, who will mete out retribution to them according to their conniving and striving, and will set in motion a great trial, as they deserve, so that once punished by God’s just judgment they may return, humbled, to the state of their vocation. – Believing and living the Gospel is the beginning of a social revolution

Thus they will be completely uprooted from the life-giving and salvific way of living that they promised in the Lord’s presence to observe until the end. The truth of the preachers will be silent in practice or trodden underfoot, and thus the holiness of those professing it will be held in contempt. And those who fervently cling to piety will endure countless persecutions. – Joy is the serious business of heaven

At that time, he used to say, there will be such great insults and upheaval of demons and wicked humans against those walking in this way that, abandoning all, they will seek to reach deserted and solitary places and cross over to be among the unbelievers. Scattered, they will take back secular clothing, leading a pilgrim’s wandering life, or hide in the homes of the faithful, amidst innumerable calumnies and insults, and will endure suffering and death. – Sour godliness is the devil’s religion

And, he would say, blessed is he who then will be able to find a faithful companion, since those persecuting them, driven by evil spirits, will say that it is a great service to God to wipe out such harmful people from the face of the earth. – Happiness is a wonderful commodity, the more you give, the more you have. 

 

  1. THE INTENTION OF SAINT FRANCIS ABOUT THE OBSERVANCE OF THE RULE, WHERE IT SAYS, “WHEREVER THERE ARE BROTHERS WHO KNOW AND REALIZE” 

When the brothers are certain and have learned from experience that in the places where they are staying they cannot observe the Rule according to a pure intention and true uprightness because of the bad habits practiced in the places, inevitably leading, for different reasons, to breaking the Rule, the brothers can and must have recourse to the ministers. As Brother Leo testifies, who was present, along with Brother Domini, when Saint Francis delivered the second Rule to the Lord Pope Honorius for confirmation at Christ’s command, the Supreme Pontiff carefully examined everything contained in the Rule. – Contentment consists not in great wealth, but in few wants

He said to Blessed Francis: “Blessed is he who, strengthened by the grace of God, will observe this Rule happily and devotedly, for all the things written in it are holy and Catholic and perfect. However there are problems with these words: “they can and should have recourse to their ministers. Let the ministers, moreover, be bound by obedience to permit them, kindly and generously, their request. If they refuse to do this, the brothers themselves have the permission and obedience to observe it literally, because all, both ministers and subjects, must be subject to the Rule.- The most evident sign of wisdom is cheerfulness.  

These could be the occasion of ruin and create the stain of division and scandal in the religion for brothers not fully grounded in the love of virtue. Therefore I want those words changed in such a way that every occasion of danger and division may be removed from the brothers and the religion.” – The full value of joy requires someone to share it with

10  

Blessed Francis answered, “It was not I but Christ who put these words in the Rule. He knows best what is useful and necessary for the salvation of souls and of the brothers, and for the good state and preservation of the religion. All that will happen in the future to the religion and to the Church is clear and present to Him. I must not and cannot change the words of Christ. – Bring sunshine to another and you cannot keep it from yourself. 

11 

It will happen that the ministers and others in authority in the religion will cause many bitter tribulations for those who wish to observe the Rule faithfully and literally. Therefore, since it is the will and obedience of Christ that this Rule and life be understood literally, so it must be your will and obedience that this be done and be written in the Rule.” – The sweet mark of a Christian is not faith or even love, but joy

12 

Then the Pope said to him, “I will do this in such a way that, keeping the full sense of the words, I will modify the letter of the Rule in this passage, in such a way that the ministers will understand they are obliged to do what Christ wills and the Rule commands, and the brothers will understand they have the freedom to observe the Rule purely and simply. – Joy is not the absence of pain, but the awareness of God’s loving presence within you

13 

This will provide no occasion, to those who frequently look for one, to transgress the Rule under the pretext of observing it.” Therefore the pope changed the words of that clause, as they now stand in the Rule. – A happy family is but an earlier heaven

 

III. AN EXAMPLE OF THE WILL OF SAINT FRANCIS MENTIONED ABOVE 

14  

This is proved by the answer he gave at Saint Mary of the Angels to that brother from Germany, a master of theology, who said to Brother Francis with great reverence: “I promised firmly to observe the Gospel and the Rule which Christ has spoken through you, until the end, simply and faithfully, with the help of His grace. But one favor I ask of you. If in my lifetime the brothers fall as far away from the pure observance of the Rule as you predict through the Holy Spirit, I ask by your obedience that I may withdraw from those who do not observe it, alone or with some brothers who wish to observe it purely.” – Every charitable act is a revelation of God. 

15 

Hearing these things, Blessed Francis was overjoyed and, blessing him, said, “Know that what you asked is granted to you, by Christ and by me.” – Learn to do the Father’s Will and you will have fully realized your vocation on earth. 

16 

And he placed his right hand on his head, saying to him: “You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchisedek.” And Blessed Francis added that all the promises made to him by Christ would, in the end, be fulfilled in those who would strive to observe the Rule simply, to the letter, and without glosses and with joy. – Our vocation is to live in the Spirit. 

 

  1. HOW SAINT FRANCIS PREDICTED THAT A WIND WOULD OVERTURN THE HOUSE OF HIS FIRST-BORN OFFSPRING BECAUSE OF THE BROTHERS’ LOVE OF LEARNING AND KNOWLEDGE 

 

17 

Saint Francis also predicted a very great trial of his brothers that was to come because of the love of learning, and that a violent wind from the desert would arise, and would strike the four corners and completely tear down the house of his first-born offspring, and destroy all his children and daughters. – The service that counts is the service that costs. 

18 

And, that he might avoid the danger of the ruin of souls, like another Rechab, he sent his own to lead a wandering life: not to build palaces; not to live in the midst of cities; not to plant the vineyards of various studies, nor drink the wine of secular knowledge and worldly philosophy but, enlivened by the warmth of the Holy Spirit, placed as a law for his sons the deeds of the most perfect life of Christ. – True freedom for people is what air is for the birds

19 

But those wise ones, mentioned above, put up, as he said, the tents of those great harlots, and brought their sons inside, living luxuriously from the pay of the harlots. And the simplicity they promised will be considered laughable, corruptible, and despised in their eyes. – God forces no one. Love cannot compel

20 

They will become bold and presumptuous, and will glory in human praise, and will trust in the name of learning and activity or prudence, and at that time constant conversion of heart will be very bitter and intolerable. – To serve God is a matter of perfect freedom. 

 

  1. TO THE SAME POINT, ABOUT AN AMAZING APPARITION OF AN ANGEL 

 

21  

One day, while Blessed Francis was praying in the place of Saint Mary of the Angels, an angel appeared to him in an amazing form and appearance: the head was gold, arms and chest silver, stomach bronze, feet of iron, and clay; the shoulders covered with vile and rough sackcloth, and it showed it was rather ashamed of that sackcloth covering. – We find freedom when we find God. 

22 

He was amazed at seeing this, and the angel said to him: “Why do you gawk and gaze? This form which you see signifies the beginning, development, and end which your religion will have, until the time it goes into labor, the time of the reform of the life of Christ and of the state of the Church. – Life is filled with meaning as soon as Jesus enters into it

23 

The golden head is you, with all your companions who are filled with the love of God and carry Christ and His death in your soul and body. – What is important is not what people think of me but what they think of Jesus because of me. 

24 

But those who will come after you, having put aside prayer, will turn to knowledge which inflates eagerness for lectures and a multitude of books under the pretext of their neighbor’s edification and the salvation of souls. – It is easier to forgive an enemy than to forgive a friend

25 

And because they prefer verbs to virtues, and science to sanctity, they will remain cold within and devoid of charity, having changed gold into cold and heavy silver. – Spirituality really means the Holy Spirit is at work. 

26 

They will pant for praises and honors, wishing, not to be better than others, but to appear so. Thus, to great loss, like bad merchants, they will exchange the silver of eloquence and learning for a hypocritical simulation in bronze, producing their works in order to get human praise, and always for a good profit. – A brave person risks his life but not his conscience

27 

But their simulation and hypocrisy cannot be concealed for long; and they will lose their worth in the eyes of those who praised them, and when they sense this they will start to become angry and indignant against those they once tried so hard to please, eagerly seeking opportunities to persecute and afflict those who have stopped revering and complimenting them. – One of the worse things in the world is not sin, but the denial of sin by a false conscience. 

28 

In this way ringing bronze will be transformed into hard and harsh iron, and they will be fragile, and impatient like tile. “This cheap, rough and short sackcloth with which I cover my shoulders is the cheapness and austerity of poverty which the brothers promised the Lord they would wear proudly. – Growth begins when we start to accept our own weakness 

29 

But abandoning it, they will cling to every kind of relaxation concerning tunics, books, and other things. And they will rejoice so inanely before people in the name and reputation of poverty, but in deeds and behavior will be ashamed of it, and will persecute it among themselves and in others; therefore I show that I wear this habit with deep shame.” – Mature people are made not out of good times but out of bad ones.  

30 

And this is one of the reasons why it is said pointedly in the Rule that all the brothers should wear cheap clothing, so that the brothers who refuse to do this and prohibit doing this may have no excuse in their consciences. – God is faithful, and if we serve him faithfully, he will provide for our needs. 

 

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

                                                     October 2022 

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

forever and ever.

Amen. 

(Letter to the Chapter)

 

(daily passages are taken from the Book of Praises) 

 

Chapter VIII 

THE DEATH AND TRANSFERAL  

OF THE BODY OF SAINT FRANCIS

1

When the time of Francis’s warfare in this life finally came to an end, the holy father departed happily to Christ in the year of the Incarnation of the Lord, one thousand, two hundred and twenty-six. He was forty-five years old. It was about twenty years since he turned away from the way of the world. – Why is it easier to break a commandment than a habit?

2

For two years he wore the habit of a hermit, but in the third year of his conversion he began the new Order of Lesser Brothers in the basilica of the holy Mother of God and ever virgin, Mary, which from ancient times was called Saint Mary of the Angels. Inspired by heaven, Francis assumed a habit under the protection of her whom he cherished with a particular devotion. – God does not want golden vessels but golden hearts.

3

It was in this Order that he completed the rest of his life in all holiness, and in the same place where he started the Order he perfected that most auspicious beginning by a most blessed death. He not only knew beforehand the time of his release from this life, but he also predicted nearly the very day that it would happen. – We can go to sleep in peace because God is awake.

4

In the very hour of his passing away, he appeared to—among others who saw him ascending into heaven—a holy brother who was absorbed in prayer. He was dressed in a purple dalmatic, accompanied by an innumerable crowd of followers like the greatest of princes in the wonderful beauty of glory. Arriving at a very beautiful place, a palace of amazing size and of a singular abundance of special delights, he entered there with a glorious company of brothers. – The one who does not stay in his littleness loses his greatness.

5

A most illustrious Roman matron, Lady Jacoba dei Settesoli, very devoted to the man of God, came to visit him with a very large retinue as befitted such a great lady. She administered whatever seemed necessary for his funeral. He, who had taught her in Christ and had named her Brother Jacoba because of the vigor of her virtues, wished to see her before he died. He therefore had her summoned.- Pray, and then start answering your prayer.

6

But before the messenger left, there was a great clamor outside the door, caused by the horses and attendants of this devoted disciple. She had arrived to visit her most illustrious father and teacher. When the saint saw her, he rejoiced that, as he had hoped, she had been sent by God. – It wasn’t the nails that held Jesus on the cross but His love for us.

7

After recovering a little in the joy of seeing her, it was thought that the saint would live longer. Lady Jacoba, therefore, decided to send back a part of her retinue, so that she might await the saint’s end with fewer attendants. But the saint forbade this. “I will depart on Saturday evening,” he said. “You can leave with your retinue on the following day.” – Get ready for eternity. You’re going to spend a lot of time there.

8

On the day and at the hour which he predicted, the saint was gathered to the Lord to live with Him in His eternal mansion. The brothers, bereft of their holy Father, wept. So too did those virgins of Christ, who had followed in his footsteps. With tearful voices they said: “O Father, why are you abandoning us poor women? To whom are you leaving your desolate daughters?“ – If it’s going to be, it’s up to me.

9

His most holy body was buried at Assisi in the Church of Saint George, where the Monastery of Saint Clare now stands. After a few years a church was built in the saint’s honor near the walls of the city and by the authority of Pope Gregory IX who laid the first stone of the foundation. The site of the church is called the Hill of Paradise. Here his body was brought with great pomp and veneration. – Out of suffering come the strongest souls.

10

So great a multitude of people had come together for the celebration that the city was not able to contain them, and they camped all around the field like sheep. The aforementioned Lord Pope Gregory, whose personal presence for the celebration of his translation was anticipated as certain, at that time was prevented owing to certain other urgent business of the Church. – In prayer what is important is not to think much but to love much.

11

He sent nuncios for the purpose with a personal letter which not only explained as necessary the cause of his unexpected absence, but also announced for sure to his sons, whom he comforted with a fatherly affection, that a certain dead man had been brought back to life by blessed Francis.- We are our choices.

12

Also, through the same nuncios, he sent a gold cross, priceless owing to its work in gems, but containing wood from the cross of Our Lord more precious than all the gold and gems. Besides this, he sent ornaments and several vessels which pertained to the ministry of the altar, and also vestments which were most fitting for solemn uses. – Anger is the wind that blows out the lamp of the mind.

13

He also sent other considerable donations for the expenses connected with the construction of the same building and for the coming celebration. The solemnity of this solemn transferal was enacted on the eighth of the kalends of June, in the year of the Lord one thousand, two hundred and thirty. – Worry is like a rocking chair. It gives you something to do, but it gets you nowhere.

Chapter IX 

CERTAIN MIRACLES 

 

As in Francis’s life, so after his passing, the Lord did not cease to magnify his saint by miraculous signs. Some instances of these are offered here. – When you are at peace with who you are, you will be at peace with what you are.

14

A young girl was brought to his tomb, who, for over a year, had suffered a deformity in her neck so hideous that her head rested on her shoulder and she could only look sideways. She put her head for a little while beneath the coffin in which the treasure of the saint’s body rested, and through the merits of that most holy man she was immediately able to straighten her neck, and her head was restored to its proper position. – When we begin to live more seriously inside, it is then we begin to live more simply outside.

15

At this the girl was so overwhelmed at the sudden change in herself that she started to run away and to cry. There was a depression in her shoulder where her head had been when it was twisted out of position by her prolonged affliction. – Life with Christ is an endless hope, without Him a hopeless end.

16

Niccoló of Foligno was so crippled in his left leg that it caused him extreme pain, and because of it his neighbors could not sleep at night because of his cries. When medicine did not help, dedicating himself to Saint Francis, he had himself carried to his tomb. After spending a night there in prayer, his crippled leg was cured and, overflowing with joy, he returned home without a cane. – Affirmation empowers people to be the beautiful person God made them to be.

17

A boy had one leg so deformed that his knee was pressed against his chest and his heel against his buttocks. He was carried to the tomb of the blessed Francis, and suddenly his health was fully restored. – God’s gifts put our best dreams to shame.

18

There was also a little girl in Gubbio; her hands and all her limbs were so crippled that for over a year she lost total use of them. Carrying a wax image, she was brought to the tomb of Saint Francis. After she had been there for eight days, one day all her limbs were restored to their proper functions. – Be faithful and God will look after your success.

19

There was another boy from Montenero lying for several days in front of the doors of the church where the body of Saint Francis rested. Since he was completely paralyzed from the waist down, he could not walk or sit up. One day, when he was brought into the church to touch the tomb, he was completely cured. – The past to God’s mercy, the present to God’s love, and the future to God’s providence.

20

He said that a young man in the habit of the brothers was on top of the tomb with his hands pointing to a pear which he seemed to offer to him. He stood up taking his extended hand and, leading him outside, he was cured. – If God is kept outside, something must be wrong inside.

21

There was another citizen from Gubbio. When he brought his crippled son, so crippled and deformed that his legs were completely withered and drawn up under him, to the tomb of the glorious father, he received him back whole and sound.- The same fence that shuts others out, shuts us in.

22

A girl of Norcia appeared listless for some time and it was eventually clear she was troubled by a devil. For she would often gnash her teeth and tear at herself. She would not avoid dangerous heights nor did she fear any hazard. Then she lost her speech and was deprived of the use of her limbs, and became totally irrational. – True wealth is the good we do in this world.

23

Her parents were tormented by the confusion of their offspring; they tied her on a stretcher mounted on a draft-animal and took her to Assisi. During the celebration of Mass on the feast of the Lord’s Circumcision, she lay prone before the altar of the saint. Suddenly she vomited, I can’t say what, and then got up on her feet. She kissed the altar, and fully free of her illness she shouted in praise of God and the saint. – Sympathy is two hearts tugging at the same load.

24

In the diocese of Volterra, Riccomagno could scarcely drag himself along the ground with his hands. His own mother had abandoned him on account of his monstrous swelling. He humbly vowed himself to blessed Francis and was instantly healed. – Humility and self-denial are always admired, but rarely practiced.

25

Two women from the same diocese were so crippled that they could not move about unless carried by others. They had stripped the skin from their hands attempting to move themselves. By their vow alone were they restored to health. – Never let go of loyalty and faithfulness.

26

Giacomo from Poggibonsi was so pitiably bent and crippled that his mouth touched his knees. His widowed mother took him to an oratory of blessed Francis and poured out her prayer to the Lord for his recovery; she brought him home healthy and whole. – Make sure the thing you are living for is worth dying for. 

27 

A woman from Vicalvi with a withered hand had it restored to match the other through the merits of the holy father. In the city of Capua a woman vowed to visit in person the tomb of Saint Francis. Because of the press of household matters she forgot her vow, and suddenly lost the use of her right side. On account of pinched nerves she was unable to turn her head or arm in any direction. She had so much pain that she wore her neighbors out with her constant wailing. Two of the brothers happened to pass by her home, and at a priest’s request they stopped to visit the pitiful woman. She confessed to them her unfulfilled vow, and when she received their blessing she at once arose healthy. And now that she was made wiser by punishment, she fulfilled her vow without delay. – All the treasures on earth cannot bring back one lost moment.

28

Bartolomeo from Narni was sleeping in the shade of a tree when he lost the use of a leg and a foot. Since he was a very poor man, the lover of the poor, Francis appeared to him in a dream and ordered him to go to a certain place. He set out to drag himself there, but had left the direct route when he heard a voice saying to him: “Peace be with you! I am the one to whom you vowed yourself.” Then leading him to the spot, it seemed that he placed one hand upon his foot and the other upon his leg, and thus restored his crippled limbs. This man was advanced in years and had been crippled for six years. – Do what you can, and God will do what you can’t.

29

In the district of Narni there was a boy whose leg was bent back so severely that he could not walk at all without the aid of two canes. He had been burdened with that affliction since his infancy; he had no idea who his father and mother were, and had become a beggar. This boy was completely freed from that affliction by the merits of the blessed Francis so that he could go freely where he wished without a cane. – Working hard means going all out until we are all in.

30

In the city of Fano there was a man who was crippled with his legs doubled-up under him. They were covered with sores that gave off such a foul odor that the hospice staff refused to take him in or keep him. But then he asked blessed Francis for mercy and, through his merits, in a short time he rejoiced in being cured. – Christ is not valued at all unless He is valued above all. 

31

In the city of Narni there was a woman who for eight years had a withered hand with which she could do no work. Blessed Francis appeared to her in a vision, and stretching her hand, healed it and made it able to work as well as the other.- Life is fragile, handle with prayer.

 

 

 

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

September 2022 

 

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. 

 

The following excerpts for the days of the month are taken from 

 

The Book of Praises 

 

Chapter VII 

THE THREE ORDERS 

1

Francis’s 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 penitence. Innumerable signs in the professed testify that this is acceptable to God, Who is capable of recounting with how many miraculous signs in and through them the Lord embellished this state! – Do not pray for easy lives. Pray to be stronger.

2

I will come, however, to the visions, to the expressed callings or few revelations that faithful people now drop from memory. Through these the Lord deigned to demonstrate very plainly the perfection of this way of life. Father Brother Haymo, former general minister of holy memory, told of a prelate in England who, while taken up in a vision to the heavenly mansions, saw no Lesser Brothers there among the other religious. – Do not pray for tasks equal to your powers. Pray for powers equal to your tasks.

3

While he was wondering about this, the most beautiful of ladies, the most blessed Mother of God, came to him and asked what he was turning over in his mind. When the Bishop told her that he was wondering why he saw in that blessedness no Lesser Brothers, whom the Church Militant esteemed so highly, the Blessed Mother responded: “Come with me and I will show you where they are staying.” – The greatest gift you can do for another is to reveal to him/her their own riches.

4

She showed him brothers who were joined to Christ on intimate terms. “See,” she said, “they are under the wings of the Judge. Save your soul with them.” The Bishop, considering the grace of the vision and on the salutary counsel of the Mother of God, entered the Order of Lesser Brothers with the approval of lord Pope Gregory IX. Some religious are said to have been shown under the mantle of the Blessed Virgin. Thus, the Mother of God herself showed brothers to be under the protection of the wings of the Son of God, each like those of the two Cherubim. – The path to light is often through sin.

5

That prelate is believed to have been Ralph whose entry into the Order has been established; he was a Master of Theology and the Bishop of Hereford. Besides him, there were two other Ralphs, both doctors of theology, one of whom entered the Order at Paris in this way. One time while he was studying, he fell asleep at his book. – Be tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, and tolerant with the weak and wrong. Sometime in life, you have been all of these.

6

The devil appeared to him and threatened to take away his sight: “I will blind you with dung.” He woke up but fell asleep again, when the devil again appeared to him and repeated the same words. He drove him away by putting his fingers to his eyes. “You will not blind me,” he said, “I will blind you.” – Children have never been good at listening to their elders, but they’ve never failed to imitate them.

7

On the following day, while he was sitting in the professor’s chair, he received from England a thick letter from a bishop offering him revenue. Interpreting the money as the dung with which the devil wanted to blind him, he entered the Order of Lesser Brothers, scorning everything. – We will change the world only when we have changed ourselves.

8

Some time ago, I was traveling with the then celebrated general minister throughout parts of Germany and Flanders. After many years I again had another meal with the brothers, one of whom had been a canon, a very venerable man, and who had been led to enter the Order by means of a remarkable cure and a vision.- When you’re through changing, you’re through.

9

Perhaps I do not remember all the circumstances after what is now a long time, but I have no doubt about the entry and the cure of the person. I relate the probable fact just as I recall it. That canon was also a noble and respected person, who feared God and had a special devotion to the virgin saint, Euphemia. Although he was, at that time, weak and advanced in age, yet he was concerned about the salvation of his soul which was accustomed to being jeopardized by his wealth. – Be still and know that I am God.

10

While wishing to put his hand to more heroic deeds, he desired to be shown the path of salvation, according to the words of the Prophet: Your ways, O Lord, make known to me; teach me your paths. Show me the way in which I should walk, for to you I lift up my soul. – Salvation is something that happens within you.

11

Through that virgin whom he had taken as his advocate, he begged with continual supplication to be directed to a state suitable for his salvation. Finally, the Lord poured into his heart to renounce the world completely in the Order of Saint Francis. – Salvation is the transformation of a life attitude.

12

He was sick, however, and had an ugly tumor on his throat. Because of this, the minister of the brothers delayed receiving him and, as cautiously as he could, he withdrew from his intention. He recommended his state as honorable, wholesome, fruitful, one that was capable of doing good works for many persons. While he recognized the dismissal, and was deeply saddened because of it, he once more gave himself to prayer, and then fell into a light sleep. – If you want God to listen to you when you pray, shouldn’t you listen to God when God speaks to you?

13

Then blessed Euphemia, to whom he was devoted, appeared to him in a vision with a brilliant company of virgins, and urged his entrance into the Order of Lesser Brothers, removed the obstacle to his reception by curing him, and gave him an unequivocal sign that he could easily endure the Order. “Let this be a sign for you,” she said, “that I am curing you of all infirmity.” – We die on the day when we cease to be illumined by the steady radiance of a wonder, the source of which is beyond reason.

14

Soon after the place of the swelling opened and every bit of that tumor was expelled, she closed the place of the tumor by the touch of her hand, and perfectly restored the man to complete health. When he awoke, that lord found himself perfectly cured. – If we are not rising to be angels, depend on it, we are sinking to be devils.

15

And he was received to vows in the Order, and he was transformed there in a most holy way. He is said to have grown in such virtue before the Lord that, impeded neither by age nor by usual weaknesses, he easily endured the hardships of the Order, and could travel longer on foot than he had been accustomed to do on horseback. – Though we as yet are not what we ought to be, we must be thankful that we are not what we used to be.

16

The most illustrious emperor of Constantinople, Jean, was advised by a divine revelation to take the habit of blessed Francis. Some claim that he alone was left without a court was left to his fraternal peers, and that he was destined for the Knight Templars or Hospitallers. – A rose is merely the evidence of the vitality of the root.

17

Since he was a young man, as noble in birth as he was conspicuous in behavior, he attained, with the help of God, the dignity of the kingdom of Jerusalem, and then to that of the Empire. He was renowned for many honors, since his son-in-law was the Roman Emperor. He was a very great defender of the true faith and an adversary of non-believers. – Thank God that your prayers have not all been answered.

18

Towards the end of his life, when he was seriously reflecting on how many gifts God had bestowed on him during his life, the greatest desire was sent to him from heaven, some believe, to know beforehand what kind of death he would have. He remained for some time with this desire and, because of it, persisted in his constant supplication of God. – When we go forth seeking God, we find that God is seeking us.

19

One night while he was sleeping, a dignified man appeared to him dressed in white, carrying in his hands the habit, cord, and sandals of the Lesser Brothers. “John,” the man said, calling the emperor by name, “since you anxiously desire to know the manner of your death, you should know that you will die in this habit and that this is the will of God.” The emperor, awake and terrified at such a future humiliation that, according to the man, was his, aroused with a scream those who by royal custom rested near him. When they came running, however, he would not reveal the reason for his cry. – The process of character goes from thoughts that become words that become actions that become our character.

20

The following night two men similarly dressed in white appeared to him in his sleep, carrying the same habit, cord and sandals and repeating that it was the divine will that he should die in that habit. Just as before, his spirit shuddered and, awake, he shouted but, again, he would not reveal the reason to those running to him from their beds. – Before thinking of changing others, strive to change yourself.

21

The third night three men likewise appeared to him in a vision, dressed in white like the others, carrying the same habit, cord, and sandals, and, as before, repeating that his passing would be in them. They added: “Do not believe that this is an illusion or an empty dream. What we say will truly be fulfilled.” The disturbed emperor ordered that his confessor, Brother Angelo, be called immediately. When he arrived, he found the emperor in bed, weeping. – Conscience is the walkie-talkie by which God speaks to us.

22

He said to him: “I know why you have called me. The same vision which you had was revealed to me.” After a few days a tertian fever gripped the emperor and, with full deliberation, he entered the Order and happily finished his days there according to the vision’s intent. But while he was still living, he was impeded by the gravity of his infirmity and debility from exercising the usual duties of humility in the Order. – Be conscious of human weakness, but be confident that it can be overcome.

23

He is said to have expressed his soul in a memorable passage: “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!” – The most important person to be honest with is yourself.

24

In this a very excellent man left us a very great example, that neither the great nor the ordinary nor much less others would be ashamed of what pertains to poverty and humility. He achieved in this vow what nobles usually win for themselves in this Order, that is, to be more humble, more gentle and more simple. Indeed, the sobriety of gentleness and humility is a distinguishing mark of nobility. – The test of courage comes when we are in the minority.

25

Grace often ennobles the ignoble, and the fault of pride or sloth makes the noble ignoble. What is more worthless than for a noble to become a boor? Not to be shunned are the lowest in birth, to whom it has been given to serve the Lord as a knight; there is nothing greater than to be a knight of Christ. But let me continue what I have begun. – The test of tolerance comes when we are in the majority.

26

Brother William of happy memory, former minister of Aquitaine, related that there was a man, once a master in the city of Chartres, bound by a vow to enter the Order of Lesser Brothers. He missed the time, however, determined by brothers for entering the Order. While he was playing checkers outside in front of the Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary, he suddenly lost his sight. When he realized this, he overturned the game with his hand so that the bystanders would notice it. Then calling a boy, putting his hand on his shoulder, he entered the church where, prostrate before the altar of the Virgin, he promised the Mother of God with tears and devotion that, should she restore his sight, he would enter the Order of Lesser Brothers without delay. – The greatest treason is to do the right thing for the wrong reason.

27

When he recovered his sight, he came to the brothers and named the day when he would enter the Order. But once again he went back on his word. He was again playing checkers in the same place as before, and again was made blind. He entered the church as before, and, after many tears, he made a promise to the Blessed Virgin that, if he regained his sight, he would no longer put off entering the Order. At last, he recovered his vision, but not as quickly as the first time. Nevertheless, once again he lied by neglecting and delaying his promise of entering the Order. A third time he became blind as before, entered the church as before, and wept very devoutly before the altar of the Mother of God. Once more, after he repeated his promise to enter the Order, he regained his sight, although even more slowly. – The greatest tragedy is not the clamor of bad people, but the appalling silence of good people.

28

Seeing that out of necessity he would have to fulfill his vow that had been proven by so many tests to be pleasing to God and the blessed Virgin, he told the brothers all that had happened to him, and entered the Order according to his promise. After his entrance into the Order, he did not entirely put off the old man, and did not want to follow the common life of the Order. Under the pretext of need, he wanted to wear shoes at all times, to eat in the infirmary, and always to sleep on a mattress. During the winter, he hurried to the kitchen to warm himself after Mass. – If at first you don’t succeed, you are running about average.

29

The brothers tolerated his living as one of the sick for almost two years—not without great dislike, especially since he had been an honorable person in the world. One night Saint Francis appeared to him in a vision and said to him: “My son, carry me a little while.” But the brother refused: “I cannot carry you,” he said. “You are a large and heavy person, while I am weak and feeble.” But since the saint asked to be carried by him just the same, grabbing his shins, he dragged the saint’s head on the ground. Blessed Francis cried out: “You’re hurting me, you’re hurting me! You’re carrying me poorly.” “I can’t carry you any other way,” he replied. The saint complained loudly that he was dragged in this way. – People more frequently require to be reminded than informed.

30

The next morning after Mass, he entered the kitchen as usual, and there told of his dream. A discerning brother listening to this said to him: “It is as you have seen. For you do hurt and carry blessed Francis poorly, that is, his Order which you are dragging through the dirt because of the worldly and degrading life you lead by living excessively and according to the flesh.” When he heard the brother’s interpretation of the dream and knew it was true, he took it to heart. He took off his fur cloak and shoes, and lost interest in the infirmary and the feather bed. Instead, taking up the common life of the Order that he had neglected, he turned into another man, completely spiritual and religious, and later became an outstanding preacher. – God is more anxious to communicate with us than we are to listen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

August 2022 Thoughts for the Day by Father Francis Sariego, OFMCap

August 2022 

 

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 daily excerpts continue from the Book of Praises 

 

Chapter IV 

POVERTY 

1

Among other characteristics, Francis’s zeal to observe poverty and humility and to be continually engaged with virtuous things was unusual. He rejoiced in poor little dwellings, in cells of wood rather than of stone. – The person with true humility never has to be shown his place, he is always in it. 

2

 He often stayed with a few in hermitages, where an enclosure of thorn bushes sufficed for a wall, and small huts for dwellings. In cities, however, neither people’s maliciousness nor the large number of brothers allowed it to be so. – Turn to the Lord and pray to Him know that He is near.

 3

He detested a brother with a great deal of clothes, made of refined, soft cloth. Two layers of clothing do not seem to belong to a poor man, since expenses are reduced by clothing that is old and mended. While cheap cloth is certainly rougher, heavier, and less warm, the pious purpose of religion demands this, and, with use, difficulty is easily overcome by grace. – It was not the nails that held Jesus on the cross but His love for us.

4

Whoever was forced by necessity to wear a softer inner tunic, he would support, as long as rough and cheap clothing was kept on the outside, for we have been given to people as an example of poverty and penitence. – Life is short! Hurry and be kind.

5

As for “necessity” not based on reason but on pleasure, he declared that it was a sign of a spirit that was extinguished. “Not bearing patiently with need,” he said, “is the same as returning to Egypt.” – When you try to make an impression that is the impression you make.

6

He wanted few books kept, ones not notable for elegance or expense, and available to the brothers who needed them. He did not want the brothers to have money or handle it even out of consideration of piety. – Prepare for eternity. You’re going to spend a long time there.

7

Therefore, with a remarkable chastening, he punished a brother whom he once found touching a coin. Even though his companion and the saint’s word forbade it, another brother took a coin he found carelessly left on the road, and wanted to give it to the lepers. He immediately gnashed his teeth and lost the power of speech. At last, he threw away the coin, and his penitential lips were set free to give praise – If it’s going to be, it’s up to me.

8

In order to avoid the superfluous, the holy man would not even permit a small plate to remain in the house if, without it, he could avoid dire need. He said it was impossible to satisfy necessity without bowing to pleasure. – The dictionary is the only place that success comes before work.

9

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.” – Hard work is the price we pay for success.

10

Proposing a parable to him, he said: “There once was a king who contracted marriage with a poor but beautiful woman. While he married her because of her beauty, he fathered by her very handsome sons. As adults, they were sent to the king by their mother that he would take care of them. When the king recognized that they looked like him, he embraced them as his sons. And he said: ‘You are sons and heirs. Do not be afraid! If strangers are fed at my table, I feed those to whom by right an inheritance is due. The brothers are Christ’s poor and the sons of a poor religion.’ ” – You can accomplish almost anything if you are willing to pay the price (salvation?!) 

11

He was well aware that the Lord cared for him even in the smallest matters. When he was weak from a very serious illness, while returning from Spain, on the way he told Brother Bernard that he would have eaten a bit of a bird if he had one. Just then someone came riding across the field carrying an exquisite bird and said to him: “Servant of God, take what divine mercy sends you.”  Accepting it, he blessed Christ for everything, seeing how He cared for him. – Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls.

12

He did not want to be involved with the world through temporal things. When the Bishop of Assisi told him that to possess nothing in this world seemed to be a very rough life, he responded: “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.”- Be careful how you live. You may be the only Bible some person ever reads.

13

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.”- What is important in prayer is not to think much but to love much.

 14

Concerned about poverty, the man of God feared large numbers and he used to say: “Oh, if it were possible, I wish the world would only rarely get to see Lesser Brothers, and should be surprised at their small number!”- Let your light shine before all.

 15

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. – Some people spend their time trying to put out the lights of others.

Chapter V 

HUMILITY 

16

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 be exalted in this world. – We can’t always trust what we hear with our ears but we can always trust what we hear with our heart. 

17

When he was asked by the Lord of Ostia about promoting his brothers to ecclesiastical dignities, he would in no way consent, but replied they should be kept in humility. – We are our choices.

18

Blessed Dominic was also present and likewise opposed the promotion of his brothers. He clung to Blessed Francis by such devotion that he most devotedly wore under his inner tunic a cord which he had given him, said that he wished that Francis’s religion and his own could be one, and stated that he should be imitated for his holiness by other religious. – Lord, help me not only to hear your word but to put it into practice.

19

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. – Lord, help me not only to love your word but to live it.

20

He wanted such great deference shown to prelates and priests that, because of reverence for their dignity and spiritual power, the brothers would consider not only their hands but also their feet worthy of being kissed.- As we are merciful to others so will mercy be shown to us.

21

He 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.- Anger is the wind that blows out the lamp of the mind.

22

Each shall receive a reward, not on account of authority, but because of the work done. – Evangelization is one beggar telling another beggar where he found bread.

23

Know then, brothers, that the good of souls is what pleases God most, and this is more easily obtained through peace with the clergy than fighting with them. – God selects his own instruments and sometimes they are very strange ones.

24

If they should stand in the way of the people’s salvation, revenge is for God, and he will repay them in due time.” – Worry is like a rocking chair. It gives you something to do but it doesn’t get you anywhere.

25

And he would say: “Be subject to prelates so that as much as possible on your part no jealousy arises. How is it too much to be subject to superiors, when, for God’s sake, we must be subject to all human creatures?” – Make peace with who you are and you will be at peace with what you have.

26

As he thought humbly of himself, he was, in his own eyes, a great sinner, while actually he was in every way 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. – Life with Christ is an endless hope, without him it is a hopeless end.

27

For as the just one is his own first accuser, while Blessed Francis accused himself in public of being the greatest of sinners, in private he never confessed the sin of bodily fornication. – When you’re through changing, you’re through.

28

His confessor was astonished, and piously wanted to know whether he was untainted in his flesh, something he could not obtain from the saint by repeated entreaty. – Affirmation empowers people to become the beautiful people God made them to be.

29

But, because he was a simple man of the greatest purity, he merited to secure from God that he was a virgin. This was revealed and shown to him by a special sign. – Insisting to see with perfect clarity before deciding is to never decide.

30

For while he was praying, he saw blessed Francis standing in a high prominent place which no one could approach and no one could touch. He was told in spirit that this indicated the prominence of the virginal purity found in blessed Francis. – The more faithfully we listen to the voice within, the better we hear what is sounding outside of us.

31

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? Therefore, a greatly humble man was exalted by the greatest exaltation. – Be glad and rejoice forever in what God creates.

July – 2022 Thoughts for the Day by Father Fracis Sariego, OFM Cap

July 2022 

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 forever. 

Amen.

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

 

 

Excerpts from: A Book of the Praises of St. Francis (1277-1283) 

 

Chapter II (continued) 

THE FORMATION OF THE FIRST DISCIPLES 

1

When the rich of the world went out of their way to visit them, they received them quickly and kindly, and would invite them to call them back from evil, and prompt them to penance. Wherever they met men on the roads or in the piazzas, the brothers would encourage them to love and to fear their Creator. – Why not let Jesus take over your life?  He can do more with it than you can.

2

They would more willingly accept hospitality among priests than among other seculars. But when they could not obtain lodging, they would inquire who in that place was God-fearing with whom they could be more suitably lodged. And although they were extremely poor, they were always generous in giving to all who asked of them, sharing the alms given to them. They so spurned earthly things that they barely accepted the most basic necessities of life. – Hate is like burning down your house to get rid of a rat.

3

They were content with a single tunic, often patched inside and out, with crude trousers, and with a piece of common rope for a belt. Nothing about it was refined, rather it appeared lowly and rough. Often, when they needed a place to stay at night, they would stay concealed in crypts or bake-ovens. During the day, those who knew how, worked in suitable places with their own hands, and would incite all who were with them to an example of humility and patience. – Without love and compassion for others, our own apparent love for Christ is fiction.

4

The virtue of patience so enveloped them that, they were often mocked and made objects of insult, beaten, stripped naked, and, not defending themselves with anyone’s protection, they endured all these things so humbly, that from their mouths came only the voice of praise and thanksgiving. 29They never or hardly ever stopped praying and praising God. Instead, in ongoing discussion, they recalled what they had done. – It is possible to give without loving, but it is impossible to love without giving.

5

They gave thanks to God for the good done and, with groans and tears, paid for what they neglected or did carelessly. They would have thought themselves abandoned by God if they did not experience in their ordinary prayers that they were constantly visited by the spirit of piety. For when they felt like dozing during prayer, they would hold themselves up with various props, so that furtive sleep would not disturb their prayer. – A person’s judgment is no better than his information.

6

If one of them took some food or drink, as normally happens out of weariness from travel or for some other reason, they punished themselves severely with many days of fasting. They strove to restrain the burning of the flesh by such harsh treatment, that they frequently did not hesitate to strip their bodies naked on ice, or to cover themselves in blood from gashing them with sharp thorns. – If we tap the best in ourselves, we will bring out the best in others.

7

They would inflict so much discomfort on themselves that it seemed they hated themselves. As they practiced peace and gentleness towards all, they avoided all scandal with the greatest zeal. 36They thought humbly about themselves, piously about others, especially about priests.- Death is not a period but a coma in the story of life.

8

When a priest told a brother: “Watch out that you’re not a hypocrite,” the brother thought that he was a hypocrite and said: “It was a priest who said it. A priest can’t lie, can he?” He was grieving, dejected and troubled, until the saint wisely excused the priest’s statement. With a remarkable zeal for silence, these brothers curbed their tongue. They hardly spoke even when necessary, nor did anything harmful or useless come out of their mouths. – One prays best who loves best.

9

All their senses were so subdued that they scarcely allowed themselves to hear or see anything except what the purpose of religion required. In them there was a simple appearance, a modest bearing, and, with their eyes fixed on the ground, their minds were set on heaven. – One is truly poor not when they have nothing but when they do nothing.

10

The saint taught them they must mortify not only the vices of the flesh, but also their exterior senses through which death enters into the soul. When the emperor Otto passed through that area with great pomp to receive the crown of the empire, the most holy father was staying with the others in that small hut next to the parade route. He did not go outside to look, and did not allow anyone else, except for one, that he might continually remind him that this glory would be only short-lived. Apostolic authority resided in him; so he altogether refused to flatter kings and princes. – For those who believe in God no explanation is needed.

11

He also used to engage carefully in a daily examination of the brothers. If he found something inappropriate was done, he did not leave it unpunished and he drove from their hearts any negligence. The brothers strove diligently to fulfill not only what he told them as by brotherly advice or by fatherly command, but also what by some sign they recognized he wanted. – For those who do not believe in God no explanation is possible.

12

To bring them to perfection, he used to say that true obedience is not just about a prelate’s word, but also about recognizing his will, and in doing what a subject perceives, by a sign, a prelate wants. In this way holy simplicity filled them, purity of life so possessed them, that they were totally ignorant of duplicity of heart. – If at first you don’t succeed, you are running about average.

13

For just as there was in them one faith, so there was one spirit, one will, one charity, continual unity of spirit, harmony in living, cultivation of virtues, agreement of minds, and piety in action. – Every survival kit should include a sense of humor.

14

These are the lessons of the devoted father by which he instructed his new sons not so much in words and speech, but in deed and in truth, and in which he renewed the purpose and zeal of an apostolic life. – Discovery consists in seeing what everyone has seen and thinking what nobody has thought.

15

To show what had been approved was approved in heaven, it was revealed in a vision to a holy man in the beginning of the novitiate that the holy Apostles Peter and Paul gave thanks to God each day for the renewal of their lives, and they were praying for the preservation of that religion. When he made this known to blessed Francis, he said: “If the blessed Peter and Paul are daily praying for us, it is only right that we venerate them daily with reverence.” – God’s grace is all we need. God’s power is greatest when we are weak.

16

Therefore, it was decided that in the remembrance of the Apostles that is made in each Hour of the Office of the Blessed Virgin, these two Apostles be mentioned by name, even though previously according to the custom of the Roman Church there was only the general mention of all the Apostles in these prayers. At this time there was added to the orations: Protect, O Lord, and: Hear us, O God the words of your Apostles, Peter and Paul, where previously it read: and of all your Apostles, etc – The more the world is at its worst, the more we need the Church at its best.

 

Chapter III 

THE SELF-EMPTYING OF BLESSED FRANCIS 

 

17

The holy man expressed great joy over the brothers’ progress, while never looking down on the sick or the tempted. – Character cannot be purchased, inherited, rented or imported from afar. It must be homegrown.

18

At one time when a tempted brother asked Francis to pray for him, the holy man said: “Believe me, son, I believe you are even 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. –  People are made by their beliefs.

19

A temptation overcome is like a ring with 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. – As we believe, so we are.

20

So they should know that the Lord has kept in mind their weakness of spirit. Hard fights are rarely fought except by those with the greatest strength.” – Salvation: Don’t leave earth without it.

21

Another brother was vexed for a long time by a temptation of the spirit, which is worse and more subtle than the prompting of the flesh. He came to Saint Francis and threw himself at his feet; overflowing with bitter tears, he could say nothing, prevented by deep sobs. The saint, however, realized that he was tormented by wicked spirits. “I command you, demons,” he said, “from this moment stop assailing my brother.” And immediately the brother became free of all temptation. – Nothing can bring you peace but yourself.

22

In this both the saint’s piety for a son and his power over demons appeared. Tempted himself, he learned to suffer with those who were sometimes tempted. – It isn’t a calamity to die with dreams unfulfilled, but it is a calamity not to dream.

23

For at times he endured a very great temptation of the flesh and, to put this temptation to flight, he would scourge himself unmercifully. But when this spirit would not depart despite the severe discipline, he would cast himself naked into the snow. It was by this chastisement of his flesh that he expelled the spiritual wound from his breast. – I am always ready to learn, although I do not always like to be taught.

24

At another time a very serious temptation of spirit came upon him, surely to embellish his crown. Because of it he was filled with anguish and sorrow; he afflicted and chastised his body, he prayed and wept bitterly. He was under attack in this way for several years, until one day while praying at Saint Mary of the Portiuncula, he heard in spirit a voice: – The future belongs to those who believe ion the beauty of their dreams.

25

“Francis, if you had faith like a mustard seed, you would tell  he mountain to move from here, and it would move.” The saint replied: “Lord, what is the mountain that I could move?” And again he heard: “The mountain is your temptation.” – The thing to try when all else fails is again.

26

And he said, sobbing: “Lord, be it done to me as you have said!” At once, after the whole temptation was driven away, he was set free. His spirit emptied itself with humility, cherishing everyone, deferring to everyone. – If we do stay in our littleness, we will lose our greatness.

27

He used to revere priests of the Church; would respect the elderly, and honored the noble and the wealthy. He loved the poor intimately, however, and, while preserving peace with people of all rank, he urged his brothers eagerly to this. He used to tell them: “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. – Why do we find it easier to break a commandment than a habit?

28

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.” – Help me, Lord, to put all aside, that I may abide with You.

29

To his brothers he would speak compassionately, not as a judge, but as a father to his children and a doctor to the sick, so that the word of the Apostle might be fulfilled in him: Who is weak that I am not weaker? Great was his compassion toward the sick and great his concern for their needs. He conducted himself toward all as he would toward individuals. – God will put His angels in charge of us to protect us wherever we go.  

30

As he scrutinized with dignified honor any revered person coming to the Order and respectfully gave to each his due, he wisely considered in all matters the dignity of rank of each one. – Pray, and then start answering our prayer.

31

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. – You cannot just go on being a good egg. You must either hatch or go bad.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

June 2022 

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)

 

 

A Book of the Praises of Saint Francis (1277–1283) 

 

Chapter I  

THE CONVERSION OF SAINT FRANCIS, AND HIS FIRST DISCIPLES 

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. – Conquer evil with good.

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. – People watch what we do and not what we say about our religion.

3

The boy grew and conducted himself in a worldly way by his outward manner of life until he was twenty-five years old. Then he left all things and followed the footsteps of Christ.- Prayer enlarges the heart until it can contain God’s gift of himself.

4

He renewed the old life of the Apostles by reliving their deeds, and he founded the house of his religion not on the sands of temporal things, but on a rock, Christ, and on the perfection of evangelical poverty. – The Spirit gives new eyes to see the face of Jesus.

5

The first stone of this building, after him, was that very ardent man in the Lord, Brother Bernard of Quintavalle, who gave away the abundance that he possessed not to his relatives but to the poor. He was resplendent in a life that was sacred and in a death that was glorious in miracles. – The Spirit gives a new heart to share the love of Jesus with all who have never experienced it.

6

The second was Brother Peter who completely renounced the world, and likewise dispersed his possessions and gave them to the poor. The third was Brother Giles, a man of admirable holiness who, through a gift said to be given by the Lord, when called upon offers whatever pertains to the good of the soul. That devout general minister and cardinal mentioned above, a zealous investigator of such revelations, taught this to us. – Evil triumphs most when good people do nothing.

7

Brother Philip was added to three others. The Lord touched his lips with a cleansing coal so that, even though he was a lay brother, he understood and interpreted Scripture, uttering words about Jesus that flowed with honey. We have heard that of Francis’s first twelve disciples, for whom he also wrote a rule and almost the same mandates that Christ gave to his Apostles, all were holy men except one. – Leaders know, go, and show the way.

8

Leaving the Order he became leprous and, like another Judas, died by hanging, so that even in his disciples the similarity of Francis to Christ might not be wanting. It was no insignificant grace that, when he had only six brothers, there was infused in him such certitude of the Order’s spreading throughout the world, that he saw the future as though it were present. – True spiritual vision is the ability to see the invisible.

9

And he said to the brothers: “I saw the roads filled with the multitude of those coming to us. They are coming from France; Spaniards are hurrying, Germans and English are running, and a huge crowd speaking other languages is rapidly approaching. ”He differentiated the brothers of the early and late periods of time under the metaphor of fruit that is more or less sweet. – In God’s love we see God’s goodness and compassion.

10

Holy brothers and fathers, renowned for great virtue, flourished even among the first brothers: such as, Brother Soldanerio, Brother Roger, Brother Rufino, and Brother John de Laudibus, who merited to touch the mortal wounds of the stigmata impressed on Francis’s flesh while he was living. – Build your life on Jesus.

11

Brother Angelo, who was close to Saint Francis; Brother Leo, the saint’s confessor; another Brother Leo, who later, as Archbishop, energetically governed the Church at Milan; and Brother James, who merited to observe the holy father’s soul ascending into heaven like a star as brilliant as the sun. – Lord, take over my life.

12

And there were the holy fathers, Brother Anthony, Brother Nicholas, Brother Simon, Brother Ambrose, Brother John, and so many others, whom it would take too long to mention individually. They brought light to the early times with the light of their virtues. – Criticism might have its place, but it should be handled by experts.

13

Their bodies are buried in peace and in sacred places for veneration. The bones of Brother Bernard, Brother Rufino, Brother Leo, and Brother Angelo were venerably buried in the Church of Saint Francis in Assisi; those of Brother Giles, in Perugia; of Brother Soldanerio, in the church of the brothers in Viterbo; but those of Brother Juniper are buried in the Church of Saint Mary on the Capitolio in Rome. – Those who would transform the world must first transform themselves.

13

Brother Soldanerio, like the sun giving light to the world, shed light by his behavior and learning. Brother Juniper shone with such a gift of patience that no one ever saw him disturbed even when he was enduring many difficulties. – We are like God when we forgive.

14

Brother Roger glittered such evident holiness that Pope Gregory IX approved and confirmed him as a saint, and granted that his memorial be celebrated at Todi where his relics lie. But he did not proclaim a feast with solemnity as is customary is such cases; because of this, we have heard that the cult of this holy man is now being neglected. – If you do not find happiness along the way, you will not find it at the end of the road.

15

Brother Anthony of Padua does not cease to abound in new prodigies. It is said, among other things, that the most holy Brother Nicholas, seeing a dead man being carried out, raised him from his bier and restored new eyes to someone who had had them torn out. He rests in the brothers’ church in Bologna. The ancient City venerates Brother Ambrose, famous for many miracles there. – They stand best who kneel most.

16

Brother Simon, endowed with the grace of virtues, enriches with many gifts of healing the city of Spoleto, where he rests. In the Spoleto valley we saw a dead man brought back to life by his prayer. The truth of this miracle and of many others was approved and disclosed by the Bishop of Spoleto, who by Apostolic authority inquired into these miracles with remarkable zeal and diligence. – It is never the wrong time to do the right thing.

17

Brother John and Brother Nicholas were men of outstanding holiness. One of these, Brother John, went to the Lord while in the office of guardian and, by his miracles, has already distinguished the German territories. – Do what you can, and God will do what you can’t

18

Nearby Brother Augustine and Brother William, in examples of a holy way of life, which we observed, showed us the paths of the holiest perfection. Their virtuous holiness is also remembered as shining through signs while they were still living in the flesh. – Those who stand for nothing fall for everything.

19

Venerable Brother Hugh, who was filled with the spirit of wisdom and understanding, was sublime in his life and marvelous in the efficacy of his learning. He rests at Marseilles where fitting honor in the brothers’ church in Cahors and shines with the brilliance of many signs.- Every believer must become a spark of light. 

20

Brother Stephen was a man of virtue and grace, formerly an abbot and an important person in the Order of Saint Benedict. Though he chose to be lesser for Christ, he was made Inquisitor against the heretics, and deserved being lifted on high by the crown of martyrdom and the glory of miracles. He lies in the brothers’ church at Toulouse. – Preach to the poor with your hands before you preach with your lips.

21

On a par with him was Brother Raymond, who was also crowned with martyrdom, and has been honorably buried there. Brother Benvenuto and Brother Peter, former provincial minister of Calabria, shine with so many miracles that it has been verified as a divine grace, which it truly is. – Do not tell people how to live, show them.

22

It would take too long to mention each of the confessors and glorious martyrs who suffered for the faith of Christ and in defense of the Church under the Saracens as well as under supporters of the heretics, while these brothers, at the command of the Apostolic See, were inquiring into the irregularities of these heretics, suffered for the faith of Christ and the defense of the Church. – Today’s opportunities erase yesterday’s failures.

 

Chapter II 

THE FORMATION OF THE FIRST DISCIPLES 

23

After blessed Francis returned from the Supreme Pontiff from whom he received the authority to preach, he gathered his brothers around him near the city of Assisi in an abandoned hut that was so confined that these most vigorous scorners of large and beautiful homes were hardly able to sit or rest in it. – When we see the invisible, we will learn how to do the impossible. 

24

They were in such want that, for lack of bread and to assuage their hunger, they were very often content with turnips which they sought in the fields of Assisi. Their relatives pursued them and others ridiculed them, because at that time no young person could be found who would relinquish all his possessions for the Lord’s sake and seek alms from door to door. There was no complaining about this; no grumbling, but with peaceful heart, the soul filled with joy, preserved patience. – We must be masters of ourselves that we may be servants of others.

25

Under the tutelage of the holy father, the increased number of brothers later grew in perfection. They were truly lesser, in name as in humility of mind, who, while living subject to others, always sought a place and position of humility, and, burning with the spirit of charity, they loved one another in a remarkable way, even in what might seem an injury. – Trust to the known God the unknown future.

26

Whenever they came together, in that place a shoot of spiritual love sprang up. What more? There were chaste embraces, delightful affection, a holy kiss, sweet conversation, moderate laughter, joyful looks and hands untiring for service. – Lord, give me only your love and your grace and that is enough for me. 

27

Since they looked down on all earthly things and never loved themselves selfishly, they poured out all their loving affection in common, hiring themselves out to provide for the others’ need, seeking not their own interests but those of Christ and of their neighbors. – Any definition of a successful life must include serving others.

28

Once when a simpleton was throwing stones at the brothers, one brother placed himself in front of them, rejoicing that he would be struck rather than his companion. Rooted in charity and humility, one respected the other as if he were his master. – We are not completely born until we are dead.

29

Whoever among them excelled because of a position or grace seemed even more humble and self-effacing than the others. If anyone happened to say something that displeased another, he would not rest until, with the greatest humility, he confessed his fault to that brother. – We cannot do great things, only small things with great love.

30

They gathered together out of desire, and were delighted to stay together; but they found separation hard, parting bitter. But truly obedient soldiers, they never dared to place anything before holy obedience, knowing nothing about distinguishing precepts. They almost ran headlong, to carry out what they were asked with no thought of contradicting it. – Treat people as they ought to be and you will help them become what they are capable of being. – Don’t compromise yourself. You are all you got.

31

Whatever they were ordered, they considered to be the Lord’s will. Thus it was pleasant and easy for them to fulfill everything. They eagerly asked not be sent to the lands of their origin so that they might observe the words of the Prophet: I have become an outcast to my brothers, a stranger to my mother’s sons. They always found themselves in the Spirit’s joy, because they did not possess the stuff of turmoil. – Holy people serve this world by reflecting in it the light of another.

 

 

March 2022 Thoughts for the Day by Father Francis Sariego, OFS Cap

March 2022

Wherever we are, in every place, at every hour, at every time of the day, every day and continually, 

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 forever. 

Amen.

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

 Chapter XIII 

THE EFFICACIOUS PREACHING OF BLESSED FRANCIS 

AND THE FIRST PLACE HE HAD 

HOW THE BROTHERS STAYED THERE AND HOW THEY LEFT 

1

From then on, blessed Francis, going around the cities and villages, began to preach more widely and more perfectly proclaiming the kingdom of God with confidence, not in the persuasive words of human wisdom, but in the learning and power of the Holy Spirit. – To ease another’s heartbreak is to ease one’s own.

2

Strengthened by apostolic authority, he was a forthright preacher of truth, not using fawning words or seductive flattery, because he first convinced himself by action and then convinced others by word, so that he spoke the truth with the greatest fidelity. – For evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing

3

Even a very great number of learned and well-educated people marveled at his power and truth, which no human had taught, and they hurried to see and hear him as if he were a person of another age. Drawn by divine inspiration, many people, well-born and lowly, cleric and lay, began to cling to blessed Francis’s footsteps, and, after they had abandoned the concerns and vanity of this world, to live under his discipline. – When the spirit soars, the body falls on its knees.

4

The blessed father with his sons were staying in a place near Assisi called Rivotorto where there was a hut abandoned by all. The place was so cramped that they could barely sit or rest. Very often for lack of bread, their only food was the turnips that they begged in their need, here and there. – The face of Christ shows us the character of God.

5

The man of God would write the names of the brothers on the beams of that hut, so that anyone wishing to rest or pray would know his place, and so that any unusual noise would not disturb the mind’s silence in such small and close quarters. – Who lives for himself is apt to be corrupted by the company he keeps.

6

One day while the brothers were staying in that place, a peasant came with his donkey, wanting to stay in that hut with it. And so that he would not be driven away by the brothers, on walking into the hut, he said to his donkey: “Go in, go in, because we will do well in this place.” – We are rich in proportion to the number of things we can do without.

7

When the holy father heard the peasant’s words and realized his intention, he was annoyed at him, most of all because he made quite an uproar with his donkey, disturbing all the brothers who were then immersed in silence and prayer. – It takes two sides to make a lasting peace but only one side to take the first step.

8

Then the man of God said to his brothers: “I know, brothers, that God did not call us to prepare a lodging for a donkey, nor to have dealings with men. While we are preaching the way of salvation to people and are giving them wise counsel, we should dedicate ourselves most of all to prayer and thanksgiving.” – We cannot give like God, but we can forgive like God.

9

They left that hut for the use of poor lepers, moving to a small dwelling near Saint Mary of the Portiuncula where they stayed from time to time before acquiring that church. – Ignore people who try to be little you; they are trying to cut you down to their own size.

10

Afterwards blessed Francis, in accordance with God’s will and inspiration, obtained it from the abbot of the monastery of Saint Benedict on Mount Subasio near Assisi. The saint, in a special and affectionate way, commended this place to the general minister and to all the brothers, as the place loved by the glorious Virgin more than any other place or church in this world. – Serve one another with whatever gift you have received from God.

11

A vision one of the brothers had, while in the world, contributed much to the commendation and love of this place. Blessed Francis loved this brother with unique affection as long as he was with him, by showing him extraordinary affection. This man, wanting to serve God—as he later did so faithfully in religion—saw in a vision that all the people of the world were blind and were kneeling in a circle around the church of Saint Mary of the Portiuncula with their hands joined and their faces raised to heaven. – Where love is, there is God also.

12

In a loud and sobbing voice, they were begging the Lord in his mercy to give them sight. While they were praying, it seemed that a great light came from heaven and, resting on them, enlightened all of them with its wholesome radiance. – Prayer is the most powerful energy one can generate.

13

On awakening, the man resolved to serve God more faithfully, and, shortly thereafter, leaving the world with its seductions, he entered religion where he persevered in the service of God with humility and dedication. – Prayer is a force as real as earth’s gravity.

 

Chapter XIV 

THE CHAPTER THAT WAS HELD TWICE A YEAR 

AT SAINT MARY OF THE PORTIUNCULA 

14

After blessed Francis had obtained that place of Saint Mary from the abbot of Saint Benedict, he ordered that a chapter be held there twice a year, that is, on Pentecost and on the Dedication of Saint Michael. At Pentecost, all the brothers used to gather at the church of Saint Mary and discuss how they could better observe the Rule. They appointed brothers throughout the various provinces who would preach to the people, and assigned other brothers in their provinces. – Use what talents you possess.

15

Saint Francis, however, used to give admonitions, corrections, and directives as it seemed to him to be according to the Lord’s counsel. Everything that he said to them in word, however, he would show them in deed with eagerness and affection. He used to revere prelates and priests of the holy Church, and honored the elderly, the noble, and the wealthy. – To be Christian is to be like Christ.

16

Moreover, he intimately loved the poor, suffering deeply with them, and he showed himself subject to all. Although he was more elevated than all the brothers, he still appointed one of the brothers staying with him as his guardian and master. – We don’t need more Christianity but more Christians who practice it.

17

He humbly and eagerly obeyed him, in order to avoid any occasion of pride. For in the presence of people, he lowered his head even to the ground; so that now in the presence of God’s saints and chosen ones, he merits to be exalted in the divine sight. – The only tyrant to accept in this world is the still voice within.

18

He zealously used to admonish the brothers to observe the holy Gospel and the Rule which they had firmly promised; and particularly to be reverent and devoted about divine services and ecclesiastical regulations, hearing Mass devotedly, and adoring the Body of the Lord even more devotedly.- It is possible to give without loving but never possible to love without giving.

19

He wanted priests who handle the tremendous and greatest sacraments to be honored uniquely by the brothers, so that wherever they met them, as they bowed their heads to them, they would kiss their hands. – Choice, not chance, determines destiny.

20

And if they found them on horseback, he wanted them not only to kiss their hands but, out of reverence for their power, even the hooves of the horses upon which they were riding. He also admonished the brothers not to judge anyone, nor to look down upon those who live with refinement and dress extravagantly or fashionably. For, he would say, their God is ours, the Lord Who is capable of calling them to Himself and justifying those called. – Lord, bless me with the clarity of vision to discern your will.

21

He also used to tell them he wanted the brothers to show reverence to these people as their brothers and lords. They are brothers, because we were all created by one Creator; they are lords, because they help the good to do penance by providing them with the necessities of life. – Lord, bless me with the courage of heart to carry out your will.

22

He added: “The brothers’ way of life among the people should be such that whoever hears or sees them glorifies and praises the heavenly Father with dedication.” For his great desire was that he, as well as his brothers, would abound in such good deeds for which the Lord would be praised. – Every action of our lives will vibrate in eternity.

23

He used to tell them: “As you announce peace with your mouth, make sure that greater peace is in your hearts. Let no 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. In fact, many who seem to us to be members of the devil will yet be disciples of Christ.” – Apathy is the glove into which evil slips its hand.

24

Moreover, the pious father used to reprove his brothers who to him were too austere, exerting too much effort in those vigils, fasts and corporal punishments. Some of them afflicted themselves so harshly to repress within them every impulse of the flesh,  that they seemed to hate themselves. – One who cannot be little will never be great.

25

The man of God forbade them, admonishing them with kindness, reprimanding them with reason, and binding up their wounds with the bandages of wholesome precepts. Among the brothers who had come to the chapter, no one dared to discuss worldly matters, but they spoke of the lives of the holy fathers, and how they could better and more perfectly find the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. – Who prays as he ought will endeavor to live as he prays.

26

If some of the brothers who came to the chapter experienced any temptation or tribulation, upon hearing blessed Francis speaking so sweetly and fervently, and on seeing his penance, they were freed from their temptations and were miraculously relieved of the tribulations. For, while suffering with them, he spoke to them, not as a judge, but as a merciful father to his children, or a good doctor to the sick, knowing how to be sick with the sick and afflicted with the afflicted. – What is going to be is up to me.

27

Nevertheless he duly rebuked all delinquents, and restrained the obstinate and rebellious with an appropriate punishment. When a chapter had ended, he would bless all the brothers and assign each of them to individual provinces. – One can criticize only if he/she has the heart to help.

28

To anyone possessing the Spirit of God and an eloquence suitable for preaching, whether cleric or lay, he gave permission to preach. When those men received his blessing with great joy of spirit, they went throughout the world as pilgrims and strangers, taking nothing on their way except the books in which they could say their Hours. – Character is a victory and not a gift.

29

Whenever they found a priest, rich or poor, good or bad, bowing humbly they paid him their respect. When it was time to seek lodging, they more willingly stayed with priests rather than with seculars. When they were unable to stay with priests, they would seek more spiritual and God-fearing persons with whom they could more suitably be welcomed. – Jesus cannot be our Savior unless first He is our Lord.

30

After this, in each city and town that the brothers wanted to visit, the Lord inspired some God-fearing people to offer them hospitality, until some places were built for them in cities and towns. The Lord gave them the word and the spirit, according to need of the time, to speak with most incisive words, penetrating the hearts of the young—as well as the elderly—who, abandoning fathers and mothers and all they had, followed the brothers, by putting on the habit of religion. – The Will of God, Nothing more, Nothing less.

31

Those whom they received to the Order they led to blessed Francis, that they might receive from him the habit of religion with humility and dedication. Not only were men converted to the Order; but also many virgins and widows, struck by their preaching, on their advice secluded themselves in cities and towns in monasteries established for doing penance. One of the brothers was appointed their visitator and corrector. Similarly, both married men and women given in marriage, unable to separate because of the law of matrimony, committed themselves to more severe penance in their own homes on the wholesome advice of the brothers. And thus, through blessed Francis, a perfect worshipper of the Holy Trinity, the Church of God was renewed in three orders, just as the earlier repair of the three churches foreshadowed. Each one of these orders was in its time approved by the Supreme Pontiff. – Character consists on what you do on the third and fourth tries.

 

 

February 2022 Thoughts for the day by Father Francis Sariego, OFM Cap

February 2022 

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 taken from: Legend of the Three Companions 

Chapter XII 

HOW BLESSED FRANCIS 

WITH HIS ELEVEN COMPANIONS 

WENT TO THE PAPAL CURIA THAT HE MIGHT INFORM HIM 

OF THEIR PROPOSAL AND HAVE THE RULE THAT HE HAD WRITTEN CONFIRMED 

Seeing that the Lord would increase his brothers in number and merit, since there were already twelve most perfect men expressing the same belief, blessed Francis said to the eleven, he being the twelfth, their leader and father: “Brothers, I see that the Lord mercifully wants to increase our congregation. Then, going to our mother, the holy Roman Church, let us inform the Supreme Pontiff what the Lord has begun to do through us, that, with his will and command, we may continue doing what we have undertaken.”- Will what God wills, and your heart will be right.

And since the proposal of their father pleased the other brothers, and they had embarked together with him on the journey to the Curia, he said to them: “Let us make one of us our leader and consider that man a kind of vicar of Jesus Christ, so that wherever he wants to go, we will go, and whenever he wants to rest, we will rest.”- We are capable of great things only if we are sincere with ourselves

And they chose Brother Bernard, the first after blessed Francis, and, as the father said, they served him. They, then, made their way rejoicing and spoke about the words of the Lord, not daring to say anything except for the praise and glory of God and the benefit of the soul, and they frequently spent time in prayer. The Lord, on the other hand, prepared lodging for them, doing what was necessary to minister to them.- Our sense of God determines how we see ourselves

4  

When they arrived in Rome and found the bishop of the city of Assisi there, they were received with immense joy, for he honored blessed Francis and all the brothers with special affection. Not knowing the reason for their arrival, he began to be apprehensive, fearing that they might want to leave their native land, where the Lord had begun to do marvelous things through them. For he rejoiced to have in his diocese such men whose life and conduct he greatly appreciated. – Reforming others begins with me.

After he learned their purpose and understood their plan, however, he was overjoyed and promised them his counsel and help. The bishop was known to the cardinal bishop of Sabina, named Lord John of Saint Paul, a man truly full of God’s grace, who loved, in particular, servants of God. The bishop of Assisi made the life of blessed Francis and his brothers clear to him. On this account, he was eager to meet the man of God and some of his brothers. Hearing that they were in the City, he sent for those men and welcomed them with great reverence and love. – The great thing about this world is not where we are but in what direction we are moving.  

During the few days they were staying with that man, they so edified him with their holy words and example, that, seeing what he had heard about them to shine in deed, he commended himself humbly and devoutly to their prayers. He even asked them, as a special grace, to be considered one of their brothers. Then asking blessed Francis the reason why he came and hearing from him their entire proposal and intention, he offered to be their procurator at the Curia. – First, we form habits, then they form us.

7  

That cardinal then went to the Curia and told the Lord Pope Innocent III: “I found a most perfect man, who wishes to live according to the form of the holy Gospel, and to observe evangelical perfection in all things. I believe that the Lord wills, through him, to reform the faith of the holy Church throughout the world.” – “Could have”, “would have”, “should have” accomplish nothing and get us nowhere.  

8  

Hearing this, the lord pope was greatly amazed and had the cardinal bring blessed Francis to him. On the following day, therefore, the man of God was presented by that cardinal to the pope, to whom he revealed his entire holy proposal. The pope, a man of extraordinary discernment, in due fashion assented to Francis’s request, and encouraged him and his brothers in many ways. – God does look us over for our medals, degrees or diplomas but for our scars. 

9  

He blessed them saying: “Go with the Lord, brothers, and as He will see fit to inspire you, preach penance to everyone. When almighty God increases you in number and grace, come back to us. We will grant you more and entrust you with a greater charge.”- When we learn about death, then we begin to learn about life.

10 

Before the saint left his presence, the Lord Pope wanted to know whether what had been, and what would be conceded, was according to the Lord’s will. And so, he said to him and his companions: “My dear young sons, your life seems to Us exceptionally hard and severe. While We believe there can be no question about your living it because of your great zeal, We must take into consideration those who will come after you lest this way of life seem too burdensome.” – If you don’t conquer your habits, they will conquer you

11 

The pope saw that their constancy of faith and the anchor of their hope were so firmly grounded in Christ, that they did not want to be shaken from their enthusiasm. So he said to blessed Francis: “My son, go and pray that God will reveal to you whether what you ask proceeds from His will. In this way, knowing the Lord’s will, We may accede to your desires. – Everybody wants to go to heaven, but nobody wants to die. 

12  

The bishop was known to the cardinal bishop of Sabina, named Lord John of Saint Paul, a man truly full of God’s grace, who loved, in particular, servants of God. The bishop of Assisi made the life of blessed Francis and his brothers clear to him. – Life is richer when we are willing to take risks: no risk, no gain

13 

On this account, he was eager to meet the man of God and some of his brothers. Hearing that they were in the City, he sent for those men and welcomed them with great reverence and love. During the few days they were staying with that man, they so edified him with their holy words and example, that, seeing what he had heard about them to shine in deed, he commended himself humbly and devoutly to their prayers. He even asked them, as a special grace, to be considered one of their brothers. – Crush the flower and it sends out a fragrance. That’s the way forgiveness works. 

14  

Then asking blessed Francis the reason why he came and hearing from him their entire proposal and intention, he offered to be their procurator at the Curia. That cardinal then went to the Curia and told the Lord Pope Innocent III: “I found a most perfect man, who wishes to live according to the form of the holy Gospel, and to observe evangelical perfection in all things. I believe that the Lord wills, through him, to reform the faith of the holy Church throughout the world.” – Sins cannot be undone, only forgiven

15  

Hearing this, the lord pope was greatly amazed and had the cardinal bring blessed Francis to him. On the following day, therefore, the man of God was presented by that cardinal to the pope, to whom he revealed his entire holy proposal. – Unexpected gratitude is like winking at someone in the dark. You know what you are doing, but they don’t

16  

The pope, a man of extraordinary discernment, in due fashion assented to Francis’s request, and encouraged him and his brothers in many ways. He blessed them saying: “Go with the Lord, brothers, and as He will see fit to inspire you, preach penance to everyone. When almighty God increases you in number and grace, come back to us. We will grant you more and entrust you with a greater charge.” – It’s all in the perspective: did God put thorns on roses, or did God put roses on thorns?

17  

Before the saint left his presence, the Lord Pope wanted to know whether what had been, and what would be conceded, was according to the Lord’s will. And so, he said to him and his companions: “My dear young sons, your life seems to Us exceptionally hard and severe. While We believe there can be no question about your living it because of your great zeal, We must take into consideration those who will come after you lest this way of life seem too burdensome.” – What we need is people who know God other than by hearsay

18  

The pope saw that their constancy of faith and the anchor of their hope were so firmly grounded in Christ, that they did not want to be shaken from their enthusiasm. – It is never night when Jesus is near. 

19  

Once God’s saint had prayed, as the Lord Pope suggested, the Lord spoke figuratively to him in spirit: “There was a little, poor and beautiful woman in a desert, whose beauty fascinated a great king. He wanted to take her as his wife, because he thought that, from her, he would have handsome sons. After the marriage was celebrated and consummated, there were many sons born and raised. – Remember: a Carpenter made us, and He alone can remake us. 

20  

Their mother spoke to them in this way: ‘My sons, do not be ashamed, for you are sons of the king. Therefore, go to his court and he will provide for all your needs.’ When they went to see the king, he was struck by their good looks, and noticing a resemblance to himself in them, he asked them: ‘Whose sons are you?’ When they answered that they were the sons of the little poor woman living in the desert, the king embraced them with great joy. ‘Do not be afraid,’ he said, ‘for you are my sons. – People want to know how much we care, before they care how much we know.  

21  

If strangers are fed at my table, how much more will you, who are my lawful sons.’ He then ordered the woman to send to his court all of the children she had borne to be fed.” When these things had been shown to blessed Francis while he was praying, the man of God understood that the poor woman signified him. – Care more than others think necessary.  

22  

After he completed his prayer, he presented himself to the Supreme Pontiff and narrated point-by-point the story that the Lord had revealed to him. “My lord,” he said, “I am that little poor woman whom the loving Lord, in His mercy, has adorned, and through whom He has been pleased to give birth to legitimate sons. The King of kings had told me that He will nourish all the sons born to me, because, if He feeds strangers, He must provide for His own. – Trust more than others think wise

23  

For if God gives temporal goods to sinful men out of love for providing for His children, how much more will He give to Gospel men who deserve these things out of merit.” – Serve more than others think practical. 

24 

On hearing this, the pope was greatly amazed, especially since, before blessed Francis’s arrival, he had seen in a vision the church of Saint John Lateran threatening to collapse, and a religious, small and of shabby appearance, supporting it on his own shoulders. When he awoke, stunned and shaken, as a discerning and wise man, he pondered what this vision meant to tell him. – Expect more than others think possible 

25 

A few days later, blessed Francis came to him, made known his proposal, as we have said, and asked him to confirm the rule he had written in simple words, using the words of the holy Gospel, for whose perfection he fully longed. As he was reflecting on how enthusiastic blessed Francis was in God’s service and comparing his vision with that shown to the man of God, he began to say to himself: “This is indeed that holy and religious man through whom the church of God will be sustained and supported.” – It is better to dare mighty things than to live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat.

26 

So he embraced him and approved the rule he had written. He also gave him and his brothers permission to preach penance everywhere, with the stipulation that the brothers who preach obtain permission from blessed Francis.  

Therefore, after obtaining these favors, blessed Francis thanked God, and on bended knees, promised obedience and reverence to the Lord Pope humbly and devoutly. The other brothers, in accordance with the precept of the Lord Pope, promised obedience and reverence to blessed Francis in a similar way. – We forfeit three fourth of ourselves to be like other people

27  

After receiving a blessing from the Supreme Pontiff and visiting the tombs of the Apostles, blessed Francis and the other eleven brothers were given the tonsure, as the lord cardinal had arranged, wanting all twelve of them to be clerics. As he was leaving the City, the man of God, with his brothers, set out into the world, greatly surprised at how easily his desire had been granted. He was growing each day in the hope and trust of the Savior, who had earlier shown him by holy revelations what was to happen. – It’s good to have money but check to make sure you have not lost the things that money cannot buy

28 

For before he had obtained these things, one night when he had gone to sleep, it seemed to him that he was making his way down a road beside which there was a lovely, strong and thick tree that was exceedingly high. As he approached and stood under it, marveling at its height and beauty, the holy man suddenly rose to so great a height, that he touched the top of the tree and very easily bent it even to the ground. It really happened this way, when the Lord Innocent, a very high, lovely, and strong tree in the world, bent himself so kindly to his wish and request – Until we lose ourselves, there is no hope of finding ourselves.