Thought for the Day December 2019 by Father Francis Sariego, OFM Cap

December 2019

Let every creature in heaven, on earth, in the sea and in the depths,

give praise, glory, honor, and blessing to Him Who suffered so much,

Who has given and will give in the future every good, for He is our power and strength,

Who alone is good, Who alone is almighty, Who alone is omnipotent, wonderful, glorious

and Who alone is holy, worthy of praise and blessing through endless ages.

Amen.

(From the Later Admonitions and Exhortation of Saint Francis of Assisi)

 

Daily excerpts from: The Tree of the Crucified Life of Jesus; The Words of Brother Conrad, other sources.

1

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

2

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

3

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

4

He Himself shaped Francis into the seal of His pleasing perfection … He said … ’I have chosen you, because by grace alone, I made you the angel of the sixth seal, which I have chosen from all the sons of grace for its purpose: for I choose the weak to confound the strong’. – The truth about God is not abolished because it is told in human language…because the one who speaks and acts is the Son of God made flesh.

5

He stamped the signs of His passion on the flesh of Francis, so that human negligence, seeking reasons to flee the footprints of Christ, may not say: As we did not see the signs, so this is no prophecy. … The sign on the flesh of Francis will be evidence that cannot be doubted. – If humanity loses the meaning of God, it will close itself to the future and inevitably lose the perspective of its pilgrim journey in time.

6

The Tau of divine protection was first signed on Francis.  But it is also his office to sign with the Tau, on the foreheads of the men who are grieving and mourning over the Rule as it is tread upon and transgressed, putting a sign on them that they may not perish … – Why birth, why death? Why sacrifice, why suffering? Christianity offers a satisfying answer … Christ … He is the true meaning of our present, because he is our sure future.

7

Thus they may not doubt that, just as the strength of Jesus maintained the natural life of Francis in that wounded body by supernatural power, so, despite the natural defects of our flesh, the strength of Jesus protects them in the literal observance of the most holy Rule’s rigor, upon which the vigor of the Blood of the Crucified so openly flowed. – The son of God embraced human time with his humanity to guide man through all measures of this time towards eternity.

8

I beg You Lord, let the glowing and honey-sweet force of Your love draw my mind away from all things that are under heaven, that I may die for love of the love of You, who thought it a worthy thing to die for love of the love of me. – The Immaculate Conception is a pledge of salvation for every human creature.

9

Therefore, the sons who have been fashioned in the likeness of their father, by the fire of his seraphic vision, must understand that their fashioning has to take place in there soul and be carried out by the glowing crucifixion of Jesus. – Let us remain alert, to be ready to meet the Savior who comes to reveal to us the face of the heavenly Father.

10

They will be living like A little Christ, smaller figures of Jesus, as it were, perceiving themselves in their mortal flesh transformed into Christ. – Contemplation of nature reveals not only the Creator, but also the human being’s role in the world that he created.

11

Jesus, the perfection of our whole created world, established in His own life, and in that of His Mother most amiable, the gospel life in all its fullness, as though upon the holy mountain and on the unshakable foundation. – By virtue of her unique position, Mary is our steadfast support in the arduous struggle. Faith reveals the greatness of our dignity as creatures created in God’s image.

12

Hence the Rule of gospel living is founded in Christ Jesus and in His most holy Mother and, by analogy, Christ passed this on, His own perfection, to the Apostles with the command that they observe it. – The door of life is undoubtedly demanding.  Those who want to pass through it must make themselves small so that Christ can grow.

13

It is not alone an evangelical Rule, having been established in and by Christ, but also an apostolic Rule, for it was laid down for the Apostles by Christ Jesus, and they kept it till their deaths. – Leave behind all that is superfluous and marginal to make more room for Christ.

14

Christ did not impose on the apostles anything except what he said to everyone, that they should take up the cross. Therefore Francis formed hi habit according to the teaching of the Crucified in the form of a cross, that a crucified mind might fight under a crucified tunic. – Let us…open our eyes to daily life, to its joys and worries, calling on God to be close to us to guide us with his words that ensure serenity and grace.

15

Inspired by the Holy Spirit, Francis opened the book of the Gospel.  He opened it three times and came upon: perfect expropriation and the perfect abnegation of self, crucifixion of the life of the flesh, and the perfect following of Jesus. –  Watch this admonition that Jesus addresses to us is the basic message of the Advent season.

16

Francis was warned by a revelation from God.  In a vision he saw crumbs of bread, which he made into a host. And some received worthily, and some refused and were struck with leprosy. – Life is a long road on which each human being struggles to find a safe and stable dwelling place.

17

A voice from heaven (said): Francis, the crumbs of last night are the words of the Gospel: the host is the Rule and the leprosy is wickedness.  O how sadly we see the vision proven true! –  Our true and definitive home is heaven.

18

The rule and life of the Lesser Brothers is this: to observe the Holy Gospel of Our Lord Jesus Christ.  At the end, as it was confirmed for Saint Francis, it concludes: … so that we may observe poverty, humility, and the holy gospel of God, as we have firmly promised. – (Christ) visits us through the people and events of daily life.

19

It is clear that the blessed Francis intended to oblige himself and his whole Order to those same things to which he could understand that Christ obliged His apostles. – The loss of contact with God’s wise design is the deepest root of modern man’s confusion.

20

Jesus and the Holy Spirit made it clear by laying down spotless, purity, extreme poverty, complete obedience, and perfect denial of oneself, under firm and stable vow, as the foundation of all Gospel perfection. – By living as if God did not exist, man not only loses sight of the mystery of God, but also of the mystery of his own being.

21

Jesus who is all goodness (responded to Francis who had been confronted by the ministers of Italy to ’soften’ the Rule): Francis, I am Jesus and I am speaking to you from heaven.  The Rule is my doing, and you have put nothing of your own in it … – The promise of peace made at Bethlehem will become a reality when the dignity and the rights of human beings made in the image of God are acknowledged and respected.

22

(The voice continued): I am willing to give the help which I recognize is needed, as I recognize human frailty too.  And taking these into consideration, I know that the Rule can very well be kept, and therefore I want it to be observed exactly as it is written, without any gloss. Those who are not happy with it, let them be gone, for I have no wish to make any changes in it. – Advent is a season of rejoicing, to know that God is …close…compassionate…merciful…who follows us lovingly with respect for our freedom.

23

Through those he spoke to from heaven Jesus was speaking to all … for the Holy Spirit’s influence is poured out generously upon (the Rule) in a broad stream of charity, and it is only through that charity that a Gospel Rule can be resolutely adopted, fruitfully professed, and observed as sacrosanct. – Filling people’s hands is doing too little.  It is also a question of satisfying their hearts’ desires…

24

Christ Jesus is the eternal wisdom of the Father. He wanted His Spirit of Life renewed in the Church to lead in the exalted saint, the confessor Francis, through His paths. – The truth that Christ reveals tells us that we must support one another and work together with others…

25

He sat down among (his brothers) and set about encouraging them in compelling words to preserve their poverty and lower-class existence, and alerting them to the flood of back-sliding that would spring up at a future time. – Every day is Christmas in the hearts of Christians.  Every day we are called to proclaim the message of Bethlehem, to the world. The Eternal Word, God from God, Light from Light, has become flesh and has made his dwelling among us.

26

As Moses with God and God with him, so Saint Francis spoke with the Lord, and the Lord fully related to him future events, concerning not only the Order but also the whole Church until the end of the world. – Christ is at hand! He comes by virtue of the Holy Spirit to announce the Good News; he comes to cure and set free. Let us therefore rejoice and exult!

27

(Francis said to the brothers): While I was at prayer, I begged the Lord for peace for the Christian people, because it was revealed to me that many trials would come upon Christian people.  And so the Lord Jesus Christ was kind enough to appear to me … – Mere technological progress does not satisfy man’s inner yearning for truth and communion.

28

(Jesus said to Francis): Francis, I am pleased that you beg for the peace of my people, but do this for me: that your brothers remain in the state in which I have placed them.  And if in the whole world there remain no others, I promise you that for love of you and your brothers I will not allow another trial to come, except at the end of the world … – Deeper spiritual needs have to be met if individuals, families, and society itself are not to fall into a serious crisis of values.

29

The Lord forgave blessed Francis every debt down to the last penny at the beginning of his conversion, he was assured of eternal life at the time the stigmata were impressed in his hands and feet and side.  The remission of all his sins took place at Saint Mary of the Angels; the assurance of eternal life at San Damiano. – In this is love: not we have loved God, but that he has loved us and sent his Son as an expiation for our sins (1 John 4:10)

30

Blessed Francis wanted the brothers to enter through the door of humility, and so both the wise and the uneducated should rise from strength to strength in humility, until the Lord inspired the prelates of the Order to exalt them with the grace of God and the virtue of humility, as long as they have first the grace of God and virtues, so they might teach others as much by right behavior as by teaching about the virtues and spiritual power, and produce a harvest of souls. – Look to God who in the mystery of Christmas show his graciousness to human beings , in order that appreciating divine goodness, they may continuously find their true dignity and salvation.

31

Blessed Francis was once at prayer at Saint Mary of the Angels saying: Lord, spare your people.  Christ appeared to him and said: I gladly grant you that, for it is of great value to me as well.  But please do this for me, that your Order stay with me … – As this year draws to a close let us invoke the Lord’s forgiveness for the shortcomings that have marked our personal and community life.  Only in this way can our thanksgiving for the many benefits we have received be true and sincere.

 

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

GOD’S BLESSINGS ON EVERYONE!

MAY IT BE A YEAR FILLED WITH GOD’S

PEACE AND BLESSINGS

 

Thought for the Day – Fr. Francis Sariego, OFMCap – November, 2019

November 2019

 

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)

 

 

Excerpts from: The Tree of the Crucified Life of Jesus

 (Ubertino da Casale)

 

Daily reflections are taken from various sources

 

1

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

2

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

3

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

4

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

5

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

6

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

7

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

8

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

9

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

10

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

11

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

12

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

13

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

14

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

15

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

16

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

17

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

18

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

19

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

20

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

21

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

22

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

23

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

24

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

25

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

26

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

27

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

28

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

29

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

30

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

Thought for the Day by Father Francis Sariego, OFM Cap

October 2019

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)

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

1

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

2

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

3

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

4

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

5

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

6

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

7

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

8

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

9

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

10

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

11

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

12

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

13

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

14

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

15

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

16

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

17

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

18

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

19

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

20

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

21

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

22

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

23

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

24

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

25

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

26

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

27

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

28

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

29

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

30

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

31

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

***************

Brother Elias ends his letter announcing the death of St. Francis with the following directives and signature:

 

Let each priest say three Masses,

each cleric the Psalter,

and the lay brothers five Our Fathers.

Let the clerics also recite the common vigil office.

Amen. 

Brother Elias, Sinner.

 

 

September 2019 Thoughts for the Day by Fr. Francis Sariego, OFM Cap.

September 2019

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 Papal Decree of Canonization

and Legend of our Holy Mother, St. Clare of Assisi

1

(St. Clare) established in the estate of the Church a garden of humility hedged in by need of a multiplicity of things in which a great abundance of virtue flourishes. – Christ alone is the world’s salvation!

2

This woman built in the area of religion a citadel of strict abstinence in which a vast abundance of spiritual food was administered. – Only (Christ’s) death and resurrection represent true liberation from evil and death.

3

This woman was the first of the poor, the leader of the humble, the teacher of the continent, the abbess of the penitents. – (Christ’s) cross is the force of reconciliation and peace; it forms the basis of hope for believers in every time and place.

4

This woman governed her monastery and within it the family entrusted to her with solicitude and prudence, in the fear and service of the Lord, and with the full observance of the Order: vigilant in caring, assiduous in ministering, attentive in exhorting, diligent in admonishing, moderate in correcting, measured in commanding, unwavering in compassion – … no one can consider himself the master of his brothers and sisters. The Creator is the only master of time and history.

5

This woman governed her monastery and within it the family entrusted to her with solicitude and prudence, in the fear and service of the Lord, and with the full observance of the Order: … discerning in silence, mature in speech, and experienced in everything pertaining to perfect government, wanting to serve more than to command, to honor than to be extolled. – Look with unyielding trust upon Christ, light in difficulty, support in time of trial, and guide in every moment of life.

6

Her life was an instruction and a lesson to others: in this book of life some learned the rule of living, in this mirror of life others learned to behold the paths of life. – God wants peace and mutual understanding among all human beings, who are called to be one great family.

7

She remained in the body on earth, yet she was dwelling in the spirit in heaven: a vessel of humility, an armoire of chastity, the fire of love, the fragrance of benevolence, the vigor of patience, the bond of peace, and the communion of familiarity; meek in word, gentle in deed, and lovable and accepting bin everything – It is in being people of integrity that we are pleasing to the Lord: ready to meet him in prayer and liturgical celebration.

8

Because each one is stronger after overcoming an enemy, she had only the bare ground and sometimes twigs for her bed, and a piece of hard wood as pillow for her head in order to grow stronger in spirit after her body was repressed. – We must tell the good news to all who are willing to listen.

9

Content with one tunic with a mantle of poor, discarded, coarse material, she used these lowly clothes to cover her body … – To build a future of serenity and solidarity, it is right to turn our gaze to the disciple of Christ … courageously presenting anew to the contemporary world the saving message of the gospel.

10

Strict as well in food and disciplined in drink, she restrained herself so much by abstinence from these things that for a long time she did not taste any food three days a week, on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. – Love enables people to dwell spiritually in one another.

11

She spent day and night especially giving herself assiduously to vigils and prayers.  When she was finally laid up with long-term illness so she could not raise herself by physical exertion, she was lifted up with the help of her sisters. – Christian leaders are challenged to bear witness to the Christian truth, which inspires us to place all our talents, intellectual resources, persuasive abilities, experience, and skills at the service of God, our neighbor, and the common good of the human family.

12

With support for her back, she worked with her own hands not to be idle even in her sickness. – Men and women are on a journey which is humanly unstoppable – a search for the truth and a search for a person to whom they might entrust themselves.

13

Out of the linen made by her skill and labor, she made many corporals for the sacrifice of the altar and had them distributed throughout the plains and mountains of Assisi. – To avoid losing his way, contemporary many needs more than ever to rediscover God to rediscover himself in God.

14

She was above all, a lover and supporter of poverty.  She so rooted it in her spirit, so fixed it in her desires, that, firmer in love of it and more ardent in its embrace, she never departed from her stronger and delightful union with it for any necessity. – (To rediscover God and oneself) is possible only when the heart listens to the Lord in silence and in prolonged contemplation.

15

She could not be induced by any persuasion to consent to have any possessions in her monastery, even though Pope Gregory of happy memory, our predecessor…generously wanted to endow sufficient and appropriate possessions for the sustenance of her sisters. – May Mary help us to understand the great value of prayer. Let us ask (Her) to open our hearts to greater confidence in the Lord.

16

In truth, because a great and splendid light cannot be restrained from displaying the brilliance of its rays, the power of holiness shone in her life with many and various miracles. – Faith teaches us that man’s destiny is written in the heart and mind of God, who directs the course of history.

17

She restored the voice of one of the sisters of the monastery after it had been almost totally lost for a long time. She healed a certain brother of the Order of Lesser Ones from insanity. – Faith also teaches us that the Father puts in our hands the task of beginning to build here on earth the ‘kingdom of heaven’, which the Son came to announce.

18

Once when, by accident, the oil of the monastery was totally depleted, she called for the brother assigned to gather alms for the monastery.  She took a jar, washed it, and placed it empty by the door of the monastery so that the same brother would take it for acquiring oil.  When he went to pick it up, he found it filled with oil, a gift of divine generosity. –  Christ is the only Savior of humanity.  This proclamation is still as effective today as it was in the days of the early Christians.

19

One day only half a loaf of bread was available for feeding the sisters she commanded that half of it be distributed in pieces among the sisters.  He Who is the living bread and gives food to the hungry multiplied it in the hands of the one who broke it so that there were fifty sufficient portions made and distributed to the sisters seated at table. – Do not be afraid to welcome the cross of Christ into your life!

20

When she was about to die, a white-robed choir of blessed virgins crowned with glittering crowns was seen to enter the house where the servant of Christ lay ill  (and) seen to approach Claire’s bed to show, as it were, the duty of visitation and comforting the sick with a certain human zeal. – (The Cross of Christ) gives full value and meaning to life’s joys and sorrows, helping every person to make his own life a gift of love for God and neighbor.

21

The venerable virgin shines with glorious deeds and miracles.  What her mother heard when she was pregnant with her and was praying appears to be clearly fulfilled: that she would give birth to a light that would illumine the entire world. – A spirit of prayer and contemplation, vital to the Christian life, must be the hallmark of all we say and do.

22

Therefore, let Mother Church rejoice that she had begotten and reared such a daughter who as a parent fruitful with virtues has produced many daughters of religion by her example, and has trained them for the perfect service of Christ by her thorough teaching. – Those who believe in Jesus, crucified and risen, carry the cross in triumph as an indisputable proof that God is love.

23

Let the devout multitude of the faithful be glad that the King and Lord of heaven has chosen their sister and companion as His spouse and has introduced her with glory to his lofty and brilliant palace. – With the total gift of himself on the cross, our Savior decisively conquered sin and death.

24

Let the multitude of saints rejoice that the nuptials of a new royal bride are being celebrated in their heavenly midst. The universal Church venerate(s) on earth her whom the Lord exalted in heaven, because her sanctity of life and miracles are evident from the thorough and careful investigation … even though, both near and far, her deeds were widely known before this. – The vocation of a Christian is holiness.

25

Truly dead to the flesh she was thoroughly a stranger to the world continually occupying her soul with sacred prayers and divine praises. – The vocation of Christian holiness has its roots in baptism and is proposed anew by the other sacraments, and principally by the Eucharist.

26

The usual signs prove how much strength she received in her furnace of ardent prayer, how sweet the divine goodness was to her in that enjoyment. For when she returned from holy prayer, she brought from the altar of the Lord burning words that also inflamed the hearts of her sisters. – God wishes to save all his children, especially those who have gone away from him and are looking for the way back.

27

In fact, (the sisters) marveled that such sweetness came from her mouth and that her face shone more brilliantly than usual.  Surely, in His sweetness, God has waited upon the poor, and the True Light which was already revealed outwardly in her body, had filled her soul in prayer. – Christ is the true answer, the most complete answer to all the questions which concern the human person and his destiny.

28

In a fleeting world, united unfleetingly to her noble spouse, she delighted continuously in the things above. – Do not be afraid of presenting Christ to someone who does not yet know him.

29

On the wheel of an ever-changing world, sustained by never-changing virtue, and hiding a treasure of glory in a vessel of clay, her mind remained in the heights, her body in the depths. – Without Christ, the human person remains an unsolvable riddle.  Therefore, have the courage to present Christ!

30

(In St. Clare) There was no place for tepidity, no place for idleness, where a sharp reproof prodded laziness to prayer and service of the Lord. – The fullness of our human vocation: to be like God, filled with love, since it is he who ‘makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust’.

 

August 2019 Thought for the Day by Fr. Francis Sariego, OFM Cap

August 2019

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) 

In the month that remembers and celebrates our Holy Mother, St. Clare of Assisi,

the daily excerpts are taken from the Papal Decree of Canonization.

1

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

2

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

3

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

4

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

5

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

6

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

7

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

8

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

9

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

10

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

11

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

12

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

13

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

14

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

15

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

16

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

17

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

18

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

19

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

20

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

21

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

22

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

23

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

24

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

25

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

26

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

27

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

28

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

29

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

30

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

31

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

“mother” of the Family.  First Order Friars, Third Order Regular Religious, Secular Franciscans living in the world, would all be less than complete had St. Clare not left her home the night of 28 March 1212.  St. Clare is not just another follower; she is the mother of the Family.  As St. Francis, St. Clare recognized the uniqueness of her new life and would not accept any rule but the simple Rule St. Francis gave her, and then the Rule she would write.  Her strength of purpose and character, and the undaunted insistence with the Holy See that the Privilege of Poverty be granted to her religious family, filled her with joy when it was eventually granted.  It is the distinctive mark of “Poor Ladies of San Damiano” and all who accepted her Rule.

 

As Spiritual Children of St. Francis of Assisi, how could we ever not consider ourselves children of St. Clare of Assisi as well?  Her life of prayer, penance, and exalted poverty call us to reflect upon our Franciscan vocation.  She was “in love” with the Lord Who called her to a life of total surrender and trust in Divine Providence.  Though we live in society, we can still live the spirit of total surrender and dedication that our Mother learned from our Seraphic Father and lived in the uniqueness of her own vocation. The heroic expression of the gospel life she chose to live with her daughters/sisters at San Damiano, and the life all who followed her lived, challenge us who call her our Mother in the Franciscan Family, to follow her example and seek to simplify our lives and detach ourselves from unnecessary attachments to all that we allow to control.

 

The poverty she sought was expressed not only in the material goods of life but also in her humility.  What greater poverty can we express, and one that all professed men and women can live if they will to, than the willing expression of a humble life. The self-emptying of Jesus, even to death on a cross, is the ultimate expression of poverty any one could hope to live.  Our Mother St. Clare teaches us that the privilege of poverty, and living it according to our state in life, empties us of all that controls us, enables us to be more receptive to grace, and makes us available to open our hearts to everyone. Let us strive to learn from the example of our mother.  Let us learn to be detached from what we allow to control us, humbly be at the service of one another, and sincerely love our sisters and brothers.  Unless we accept the giftedness of our vocation and the fact that each one of us is a gift that God offers the other, we will never strengthen the bond of charity among us.  As we honor the poverty and humility of St. Clare, let us not forget that the “ego” is the greatest and often last “treasure” we are willing to let go of.  May the example and holiness of St. Clare of Assisi help us to live as faithful children of our Seraphic Family, who see poverty as freedom, chastity as love, and obedience as victory.

 

May God bless us; may Mary, Queen and Mother of our Seraphic Family, keep us in the depths of Her Immaculate Heart; and may Our Seraphic Father St. Francis of Assisi and our Holy Mother St. Clare of Assisi watch over each one of us, their Spiritual Children, with loving care.

Peace and Blessings

 

Fr. Francis A. Sariego, O.F.M. Cap.

Regional Spiritual Assistant

 

 

Monthly Meditation by Fr. Francis Sariego, OFM Cap – July 2019

July 2019


O loving one bear in mind your poor children for whom, without you,

their one and only consolation, there is little comfort…

they still .. tearfully cry out to you:

O father,

place before Jesus Christ, son of the Most High Father,

His sacred stigmata;

and show Him the signs of the cross on your hands, feet, and side,

that He may mercifully bare His own wounds to the Father,

and because of this the Father will ever show us in our anguish His tenderness.

Amen.


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

1

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

2

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

3

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

4

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

5

(When asked by a brother to designate one worthy to be general minister, Francis said): He must be a person of very dignified life, of great discernment and of praiseworthy reputation…without personal favorites…be a committed friend of prayer…must put the sacrament of the Mass first … and commend himself and his flock to divine protection. – The only path worthy of the human family is the path of peace, of mutual respect, understanding, and love, and solidarity with those in need.

6

(Francis continued the requisites of a general minister saying): After prayer, he must make himself available for all to pick at him, and should respond to all and provide for all with meekness. He is someone who … will take as much care of the lesser and simple brother as of the learned and greater ones. – We begin to pray, believing it is our own initiative that compels us to do so.  Instead , we learn that it is always God’s initiative within us.

7

(Continuing the image of the general minister, Francis said) He should bear in his behavior the image of holy simplicity and nourish this virtue … he must loathe money … to be imitated, he must never engage in the abuse of using any money pouch. – God alone is our true and lasting support.

8

(The general minister should be) someone who comforts the afflicted, and the final refuge of the distressed, so that the sickness of despair does not overcome the sick … let him let go of some of his rights that he may gain a soul for Christ … let him not close the heart of mercy to (those who are runaways) – Love and prayer are the only sure spiritual levers with which it is possible to lift up the world. And this applies to all areas of life.

9

I want all to honor (the general minister) as standing in the place of Christ, and to be provided for everything with all the kindness of Christ  – In a world thirsting for peace, it is indeed urgent that Christian communities proclaim the gospel unanimously.

10

Blessed Francis was not embarrassed to go through the city’s public places to find some meat for a sick brother.  However, he also advised the sick to be patient when things were lacking and not stir up a scandal if everything was not to their satisfaction. – It is indispensable that (Christian communities) witness to divine love, which unites them, and make themselves messengers of joy, hope, and peace.

11

He burned with great zeal for the common  profession and Rule, and endowed those who were zealous about it with a special blessing.  He called it their Book of Life, the hope of salvation, the marrow of the Gospel, the way of perfection, the key of Paradise, the pact of an eternal covenant. – The Holy Spirit makes man realize his own evil and at the same time directs him toward what is good.

12

It grieved the blessed Father when brothers sought learning while neglecting virtue, especially is they did not remain in that calling in which they were first called. –Thanks to the multiplicity of the Spirit’s gifts, every kind of human sin can be reached by God’s saving power.

13

He used to say that the lukewarm who do not apply themselves constantly to some work, would quickly be vomited out of the Lord’s mouth.  No idler could appear in his presence without feeling the sharp bite of criticism. – Whoever calls with faith on the name of Jesus can have the experience similar to the one mentioned by Luke: for power came forth from him and healed all.

14

So that the brother (who was in pain because he was hungry and could not sleep) would not be ashamed to eat alone, blessed Francis, a man of great charity and discernment, immediately had the table set and they all ate together with him. – Only a higher moral vision can motivate the choice for life.

15

After the meal, blessed Francis said to the other brothers: My brothers, each of you must consider his own constitution … Just as we must beware of overindulging in eating, which harms body and soul, so we must beware of excessive abstinence even more, because the Lord desires mercy and not sacrifice. – Provided that we approach the word of God and listen to it as it really is, it brings us into contact with God Himself, God speaking to us.

16

Let each one provide for his body what it needs as our poverty will allow.  This is what I wish and command you. – May Mary help us love nothing more than Christ, who reveals to the world the mystery of divine love and true human dignity.

17

When Francis began to have brothers, he was so happy about their conversion and that the Lord had given him good company, that he loved and revered them so much that he did not tell them to go for alms … rather, sparing them shame, he himself would go for alms every day …  – (The word of God) brings us into contact with Christ, the Word of God, the Truth, who is at the same time both the Way and the Life.

18

(Seeing Francis’ fatigue, the brothers said): We want to go for alms.  So (Francis) talked to them.  My dearest brothers and sons, don’t be ashamed to go for alms, because the Lord for our sake made Himself poor in this world … This is our inheritance, which the Lord Jesus Christ acquired and bequeathed to us and all who want to live in holy poverty according to His example. – It is decisive for each one of us to meet Christ personally.

19

So that the brothers would observe the words of the holy Gospel: Do not be concerned about tomorrow … for a long time many brothers … did not want to collect or receive more alms than were enough for them for one day. – It is Christ who understands the human heart, who can satisfy its hopes and longings and give answers to the concerns and the difficulties that humanity today faces.

20

From the very moment blessed Francis spoke (to the brother suffering from severe depression), he was immediately freed both in spirit and body from that great trial … through the grace of God and the merits of blessed Francis, he remained in great serenity and peace of soul and body. – The Holy Spirit is the author of our sanctification.

21

And he would say: When the Lord stayed in solitude where he prayed and fasted for forty days and forty nights, He did not have a cell or a house built there, but He sheltered Himself under the rocks of the mountain.  And so, after His example, he did not want to have a house or cell in this world, nor did he have one built for him. –The Holy Spirit transforms man deep down, divinizes him, makes him participant in divine nature, just as fire makes metal incandescent, just as spring water quenches thirst.

22

The holy father … did not want the brothers for any reason to go beyond the norm of poverty either in houses or churches, in gardens or in other things they used.  And he did not want them to possess the right of ownership to these places, but always to stay in them as pilgrims and strangers. – The need of Christians for reconciliation with one another, for mutual forgiveness, is great.

23

The Lord, he used to say, has called us to help His faith and the prelates and clerics of holy Mother Church.  This is why we are always bound to love, honor, and revere them as much as we can. For this reason let them (the brothers) be called Lesser Brothers ... – (Do) not be afraid of openly and courageously expressing our faith in Christ in our daily lives, especially in works of charity and solidarity with those who are in need.

24

Since I cannot speak much because of weakness and the pain of my illness, I am showing my will to my brothers briefly in these three words: as a sign of remembrance of my blessing and my testament, may they always love each other; may they always love and observe our Lady Holy Poverty; and may they always remain faithful and subject to the prelates and all the clerics of holy Mother Church. – It is important for media personalities (and all people) to be men and women of integrity and of sound character worthy of the respect which is paid them and of the trust which is given them. (we can apply this to all Christians)

25

Blessed Francis was very sad when he entered some church and saw that it was not clean.  Therefore, after preaching to the people, at the end of the sermon, he would always have all the priests who were present assembled in some remote place so he could not be overheard by the people. He would preach to them about the salvation of souls and,  in particular, that they should exercise care and concern in keeping churches clean, as well as altars and everything that pertained to the celebration of the divine mysteries.  The world should be enriched by … (our) goodness.

26

Brother Pacifico was taken up into ecstasy … and he saw many thrones in heaven, one of them higher than the others, glorious, resplendent adorned with every precious stone … All at once he heard a voice telling him: This was Lucifer’s throne and blessed Francis will sit on it in his place. – The first step of evangelization is to accept the grace of conversion into our own minds and hearts, to let ourselves be reconciled to God.

27

Brother Pacifico was told this in his heart: In this you can know that the vision you saw is true.  For as Lucifer was cast down because of his pride, so blessed Francis will merit to be exalted and sit on it because of his humility. – We must first experience God’s gracious mercy, the love of Christ which has reconciled us to himself and given us the work of handing on this reconciliation.

28

During his illness, blessed Francis composed some Praises of the Lord which he had his companions recite sometimes for the praise of God, the consolation of his spirit, and also for the edification of his neighbor. – Man’s relationship with God demands times of explicit prayer, in which the relationship becomes an intense dialogue, involving every dimension of the person.

29

When he came in and stood before the table of the brothers … he sat down on the floor beside the fire, facing the brothers … sighing he said … When I saw the table finely and elaborately prepared, I considered that this was not a table of poor religious … for more than other religious, we should follow the example of poverty and humility in all things, because we have been called to this and have professed this before God and people … – O Lord of life, when the moment of our definitive’passage’ comes, grant that we may face it with serenity, without regret for what we shall leave behind.

30

It was customary for blessed Francis, whenever anyone out of devotion requested him to pray to the Lord for his soul, to offer a prayer as soon as possible, so that he would not forget afterwards. – In meeting You (Lord), after having sought you for so long, we shall find once more every authentic good which we have known on earth, in the company of all who have gone before us marked with the sign of faith and hope.

31

What was bitter to his body he accepted and considered sweet on account of the sweetness and compassion that he drew daily from, the humility and footprints of the Son of God.  Because of the sufferings and bitter experiences of Christ, which He endured  for us, he grieved and afflicted himself daily in body and soul … – Jesus asks us to follow him and to imitate him along the path of love, a love which gives itself completely to the brethren out of love for God

 

Thought for the Day by Father Francis Sariego, OFM Cap. – June 2019

June 2019

O loving one

bear in mind your poor children for whom, without you, their one and only consolation,

there is little comfort… they still .. tearfully cry out to you:

O father,

place before Jesus Christ, son of the Most High Father, His sacred stigmata;

and show Him the signs of the cross on your hands, feet, and side,

that He may mercifully bare His own wounds to the Father,

and because of this the Father will ever show us in our anguish His tenderness.

Amen.

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


1

(Francis=) opinion was that rarely should something be commanded under obedience, for the weapon of last resort should not be the first used. – Jesus=way of acting and his words, his deeds, and precepts constitute the moral rule of Christian life.

2

Saint Francis also said: A time will come when the religion loved by God will have such a bad reputation because of bad example that it will be embarrassing to go out in public. – Love and follow Christ!

3

Know that you are in truth my servant when you think, speak, and do all things that are holy. – If the path becomes difficult at times and you are overcome by fatigue, rest in the shade of prayer.

4

While he was staying in that palace (of the bishop), blessed Francis, realizing that he was getting sicker by the day, had himself carried on a litter to the church of St. Mary of the Portiuncula. – Have great love for Jesus Christ, try to know him well, remain united to him, have great faith and great trust in him.

5

Raising himself up slightly, he blessed the city of Assisi:  May (Assisi) always be mindful of the abundant mercies which You have shown it, that it always be an abode for those who acknowledge You, and glorify You name blessed and glorious throughout the ages.  Amen. – Be generous in giving your life to the Lord.

6

From the time of his conversion till the day of his death, blessed Francis, whether healthy or sick, was always concerned to know and follow the will of the Lord. – You have nothing to fear, because God is the Lord of history and of the universe.

7

Although racked with sickness, blessed Francis praised God with great fervor of spirit and joy of body and soul, and told (one of the brothers): If I am to die soon, call Brother Angelo and Brother Leo that they may sing to me about Sister Death. – The more ready you are to give yourselves to God and to others, the more you will discover the authentic meaning of life.

8

(Lady Jacopa) That spiritual woman was a holy widow, devoted to God … Through the merits of blessed Francis she had obtained such grace from God that she seemed like another Magdalene, always full of tears and devotion for love of God. – God expects much of you!

9

From the beginning of his conversion blessed Francis, with God=s help, established himself and his house … upon a firm rock , the greatest humility and poverty of the Son of God, calling it the religion of >Lesser Brothers=. – Life is a gift from the Creator, to be spent in the service of one=s brothers and sisters.

10

The bishop of (Terni) … attended that sermon (of blessed Francis in Terni) … he said: … in this final hour, God has beautified his Church with this little poor man, lowly and unlettered … pointing all the while to blessed Francis. – (Life) is to be accepted, respected, and proposed with every means available, and defended from every threat.

11

To preserve greater humility, a few years after his conversion he resigned the office of prelate before all the brothers during a chapter held at Saint Mary of the Portiuncula.  From now on I am dead to you.  But here is Brother Peter di Catani: let us all, you and I obey him. – Recognizing Christ in our brethren, we are preparing to be recognized by him at his final return.

12

Considering the outstanding perfection of Brother Bernard, blessed Francis prophesied about him in the presence of some of the brothers: I tell you some of the greatest and most cunning devils have been sent to test Brother Bernard … The merciful Lord will deliver him … He will place his spirit and body in such peace, quiet, and consolation … and in this consolation of both body and soul, he will pass from this world to the Lord. – The Christian community prepares for the Lord’s second coming by focusing on those persons whom Jesus Himself favored, those who are often excluded and ignored by society.

13

During the week in which blessed Francis died, Lady Clare was seriously ill…She sent word of this to blessed Francis…To console her, he wrote his blessing in a letter and also absolved her from any failings, if she had any…He spoke to the brother she had sent. Go, and take this letter to Lady Clare…Let her be assured that before her death, both she and her sisters will see me and will receive the greatest consolation from me. – Let us lift our gaze from pettiness and sin, and let us contemplate in heaven the throne of the Lamb, where the eternal liturgy of praise is chanted by men and women of every people and race.

14

Saturday evening before nightfall, after vespers, when blessed Francis passed to the Lord, many birds called larks flew low above the roof of the house where blessed Francis lay, wheeling in a circle and singing. – Be an encouragement always to walk in accordance with the Spirit of the risen Jesus, a support in adhering to God=s will … be generous witnesses of Christ=s love.

15

Concerning larks, blessed Francis used to say: Our Sister Lark, has a capuche like a religious, and is a humble bird, who gladly goes along the road looking for some grain.  Even if she finds it in animal=s manure, she pecks it out and eats it.  While flying, she praises the Lord… – >Reparation= … is … returning to the Lord, touched by his love, and offering a more intense fidelity in the future, a life aflame with charity.

16

Blessed Francis often said these words to the brothers: I have never been a thief, in regard to alms, which are the inheritance of the poor.  I always took less than I needed, so that other poor people would not be cheated of their share.  To act otherwise would be theft. – To follow Jesus involves living as he lived, accepting his message, adopting his way of thinking, embracing his destiny, and sharing his project, which is the plan of the Father

17

The voice of Christ was heard in the air, saying: Francis, nothing of yours is in the Rule. Whatever is there is all mine.  And I want the Rule observed in this way: to the letter, to the letter, to the letter, and without gloss, without gloss, without gloss … Those who refuse to observe it should leave the Order …– Without the spiritual nourishment that the body and blood of Christ gives us, human love is always tainted by selfishness.

18

(At the Chapter of Mats, in the presence of the Lord Cardinal who later became Pope Gregory, Francis said): My brothers! My brothers!  God has called me by the way of simplicity and showed me the way of simplicity. I do not want you to mention any other Rule … And the Lord told me … He wanted me to be a new fool in the world … – Christians must feel compelled to take the initiative and to reach out to their brothers and sisters where they live and work.

19

Know then, brothers, that the profit or good of souls is what pleases God the most, and this is more easily obtained through peace with the clergy than fighting with them … Be subject to prelates so that, as much as possible on your part no jealousy arises.  If you are children of peace, you will win over both the clergy and people for the Lord … – It is every believer=s duty to take part in building up society, putting himself at the service of his brothers and sisters through the search for the common good.

20

For my part, I want only this privilege from the Lord: not to have any privilege from any human being, except to show reverence to all, and, by the obedience to the holy Rule, to convert everyone more by example than by word. – If we wish to welcome the Lord, we are called to conversion.

21

One night blessed Francis was so afflicted with the pains of his illness … he had all the brothers staying in that place called to him … he regarded them as representatives of all the brothers … he blessed them, placing his right hand on the head of each one, and he blessed all who were in the religion and all who were to come until the end of the world. – Constant fidelity to legitimate authority and institutions … serve not power but the supreme ideal of justice.

22

He did not want the brothers to live in any place unless it had a definite owner who held the property rights.  He always wanted to have the law of pilgrims for his sons. – The message of conversion and reconciliation as an indispensable demand of Christian love is more urgent than ever in present-day society, in which the very foundations of an ethical vision of human life often seem lost.

23

He hated pretense in houses … abhorred having many or fine furnishings … disliked anything … that recalled the ways of the world.  He wanted everything to sing of exile and pilgrimage. – Prepare the way for Christ by the testimony of his word and his life.

24

He taught that in books the testimony of the Lord, not value, should be sought, edification rather than elegance.  He wanted few books kept, and these should be available to the brothers who needed them. – Imitate (Christ) with docile and trusting generosity.

25

Finally, beds and coverings abounded in such plentiful poverty that if a brother had a ragged sheet over some straw he considered it a bridal cloth. – The glory of God is man fully alive (St.Irenaeus).  Here is the truth about the glory of God which the gospel offers us!

26

He detested money above all … and encouraged his followers to flee from it always as from the devil himself. He gave his followers this observation: money and manure are equally worthy of love. – The mysterious route of faith and love … is a model of the journey that every Christian is called to accomplish to witness Christ in the world.

27

Clothed with power this man was warmed more by divine fire on the inside than by what covered his body on the outside. – In order to love as Jesus loves, we must offer others the gift of ourselves.

28

(Blessed Francis) said: A time will come when strictness will be relaxed and tepidity will hold such sway, that sons of a poor father will not be the least ashamed to wear even velvet cloth, just changing the color. – It is in the giving of ourselves through charity, service, and compassion that we can experience true joy.

29

(St. Francis said to a man who was cursing his lord for taking what was his) Brother, forgive your lord for the love of God, so you may set your soul free, and it may be that he will return to you what he has taken.  Otherwise you will lose not only your property, but also your soul.  Blessed Francis gave him the mantle on his back, and said, Here, I will give you this cloak, and beg you to forgive your lord for love of God.  The man=s mood sweetened and moved by his kindness, he took the gift and forgave the wrongs. –  Suffering is transformed and elevated when, in those moments, we become aware of God=s closeness and solidarity.

30

(Speaking with a learned Dominican about warning the wicked of their wickedness, blessed Francis said): … a servant of God should be burning with life and holiness so brightly, that by the light of example and the tongue of his conduct, he will rebuke all the wicked … the brightness of his life and the fragrance of his reputation will proclaim their wickedness to all of them. – Each one is tempted by unbelief.  We have to open our eyes and our heart to the light of the Holy Spirit.

 

 

 

 

 

Thoughts for the Day – May 2019 by Fr. Francis Sariego, OFM Cap

May 2019

O virgin mother, daughter of your Son, humble beyond all creatures and more exalted;

Predestined turning point of God’s intention;

Your merit so ennobled human nature that its divine Creator did not scorn

To make Himself the creature of His creature.

The Love that was rekindled in Your womb sends for the warmth of the eternal peace

Within whose ray this flower has come to bloom.

Here to us you are the noon and scope of Love revealed;

And among mortal men, the living fountain of eternal hope.

Lady, you are so near God’s reckonings that who seeks  grace and does not first seek you

Would have his wish fly upward without wings.

Not only does your sweet benignity flow out to all who beg,

But oftentimes your charity arrives before the pleas.

In you is pity, in you is munificence, in you the tenderest heart,

In you unites all that creation knows of excellence!

(Dante Alighieri – Paradiso – Canto XXXIII)

1

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

2

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

3

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

4

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

5

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

6

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

7

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

8

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

9

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

10

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

11

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

12

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

13

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

14

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

15

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

16

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

17

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

18

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

19

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

20

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

21

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

22

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

23

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

24

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

25

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

26

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

27

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

28

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

29

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

30

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

31

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

 

Thought for the Day – Father Francis Sariego, OFM Cap – April 2019

April 2019

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

let all of us truly and humbly believe, hold in our heart and love, honor, adore, serve,

praise and bless, glorify and exalt, magnify and give thanks

to the Most High and Supreme Eternal God, Trinity and Unity,

Father, Son and Holy Spirit,

Creator of all, Savior of all who believe and hope in Him, and love Him, Who,

without beginning and end, is unchangeable, invisible, indescribable, ineffable,

incomprehensible, unfathomable, blessed, praiseworthy, glorious, exalted,

sublime, most high, gentle, lovable, delightful,

and totally desirable above all else for ever.

Amen.

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

1

Now, among the Patriarchs who have planted the great Religious families in the garden of the Church, her pride, the fairest of all, is undoubtedly the Seraphic Father, Francis.  No one resembles Jesus Crucified as much as he. (Pope Leo XIII,  May19,1896)  – The sacredness of the person keeps returning, again and again.

2

The beauties of nature held a mysterious fascination for Francis’ whole being.  Mounting up to the first origins of things, he considered created beings as coming from the fatherly bosom of God. ‘They have the same beginning as we, he used to say; like us they receive life from the thought, the choice, and the love of the Creator’(Legend 8,6) – Like trees, human beings need deeply anchored roots.

3

When he was a prisoner of war at Perugia his noble bearing so impressed his captors that he was incarcerated with the knights instead of in the common jail.  With his ideal always beside him, he could laugh at his chains and scorn them…To his companions he spoke always of courage… – Merciful love is supremely indispensable between those who are closest to one another.

4

His loving, attentive compassion for the poor was beyond telling. Grace added true piety to his natural goodness, and his heart used to melt at the sight of the poor.  If he had nothing to give them, he used at least to show them he loved them (Celano 223, 15) – In order to sing God’s praises we must learn the language of humility and trust, moral integrity and sincere commitment.

5

One day when he was riding on the plain of Assisi, he met a leper and was immediately overcome with disgust and horror. But, faithful to his promise of never refusing alms, he got down off his horse and ran to embrace the beggar.  He kissed the horrible outstretched hand and placed his alms in it. – The person who is a ‘neighbor’ cannot indifferently pass by the suffering of another.

6

In his youth he used to love to visit a small rustic chapel dedicated to the martyr St. Damian…The figure of the cross came alive and spoke to him, calling him by name:Francis, go and repair my house which, as you see, is falling into ruins…These mysterious words had a threefold meaning: literal…spiritual…personal.  Francis felt the truth of these words by the change they produced in his whole being. – Respond to the promptings of the Holy Spirit by forgiving one another whatever needs to be forgiven.

7

He wished (to) crucify his flesh and its vices and concupiscence which would lead to sin. (And Francis said) A time will come when laxity and tepidity will prevail.  Then the children of a poor Father will not blush to wear rich clothing.  Their garments will differ only in color from those of rich worldlings (Celano 224,10) – Accept one another and break down barriers in order to overcome every possible cause of division.

8

His companions asked (Francis): ‘Tell us, then, Father, what perfect obedience is’. Francis gazed within his heart and saw the ever-present, ever-adored vision of Christ obedient unto death. He used a simile to illustrate the manner in which his Lord and Ideal acted.  Take a dead body and put it where you will.  You will see that it does not object to being moved; it does not murmur about its position or complain if it is abandoned and left to one side. Put it on a throne and it will not look up, but down. Clothe it in royal purple and it will appear even more pallid than before. That is a picture of the truly obedient Religious… (Celano, 284)  – Grow in holiness!

9

Francis could obey all commands easily and joyfully.  It mattered little whether the superior was young or old, talented or not. He never beheld in the man the superior, but only God, out of love for Whom he had submitted himself to the yoke of obedience. – Build the house of your life on the rock of divine grace, sparing no efforts to found it on sound fidelity to God and his commandments!

10

The sight of the crucified Son of God inflamed Francis with love and spurred him on to total self-renunciation. Francis, the servant of the most high King, lived in nakedness in order to follow the example of the Master whom he loved and who hung naked on the cross. (Legend,2,4) – In Jesus Christ we are called to victory.

11

As St. Bonaventure attests, the Seraphic Patriarch actively mortified his flesh solely in order that he might bear outwardly in his body the Cross of Christ which he already carried in his soul. (Legend 1, 6) – The world needs the witness of ‘new men’ and ‘new women’ who, in word and deed, make Christ present in an ever more powerful way.

12

Francis, whose penetrating faiths could see his creator beneath the symbols of nature, could also pierce the veils of the Eucharist.  This ardent faith illumined his mind, enabling him to behold his God beneath the sacramental species.  In the Eucharist he saw, with the eyes of faith, Christ the Victim, immolated and crucified for the sins of the world. – Christ is the only complete and superabundant answer to the longing for truth and happiness in the human heart.

13

He used to say: If I happened to meet both a saint from heaven and a poor priest, I would first salute the priest and run to kiss his hands … He used to assist at the Holy Sacrifice every morning: He considered it a sign of great neglect not to hear at least one Mass every day whenever possible. (Celano 319, 25) – In whatever condition we find ourselves, we can always open ourselves to conversion and receive forgiveness for our sins.

14

Prayer was his safe refuge … If he began to pray in the evening, he used not to end until near dawn.  He prayed while walking, while sitting, while eating and drinking. He used to go alone by night to pray in solitude in abandoned or out-of-the-way churches … (Celano 73, 13)  – On Calvary, by the supreme sacrifice of his life, the Messiah will seal for every man and woman the infinite gift of God’s pardon and mercy.

15

God, having once willed to give us Christ through the Blessed Virgin, has not changed the order of His providence, since He does not repent of His gifts. It is and always will be true that, having once received through her the universal principle of grace, we still receive from God through her mediation the graces needed in the different stages of the Christian life. – Time given to Christ is never time lost.

16

Oh, how frequently, by the revelation of the Holy Spirit and not through the word of any man, (Francis) knew the secrets of his absent Friars’ hearts and saw into their consciences! (Celano 50, 20) – We must rebuild man from within, healing wounds and achieving genuine purification of memory through mutual forgiveness.

17

Francis himself and his Friars Minor wielded the conquering sword of the word of God; Clare and her daughters fought with the all-powerful weapon of prayer; while the men and women of the Third Oder captured hearts by the good example of their secular lives … a plan worthy of the most skillful strategist. – Sacred Scripture is a sure guide when it is read, welcomed, and meditated upon in the church.

18

Clare called herself and her daughters ‘helpers’, ‘co-workers’, titles whose implications she impressed upon her spiritual children, for they expressed their special vocation to assist Francis and his Friars in the salvation of souls…The hearts of Francis and Clare were fused into one by the fire of heavenly love, mingling together and offering to the world the seraphic ideal in all its purity and perfect unity. – The greatest deception, and the deepest source of unhappiness, is the illusion of finding life by excluding God.

19

Our seraphic Father thought long about his project of founding a rule of life to develop this new upsurge of Christian spirituality and to bring the virtues of religious life into the home…Married people, both men and women, who could not free themselves from the bonds of marriage, followed the advice of the Friars and gave themselves over to stricter penance in their homes. – Charity is not genuine if it seeks human praise. 

20

If we wish really to understand Francis, we must follow him to his mountain cave.  There had been, and was still, the hermit as well as the evangelist and missionary in his make-up …Of all the places suitable for contemplation, Francis preferred Mount Alverna … Two years before his death, Divine providence was calling him to the summit of Alverna, the Calvary of his painful martyrdom and the Tabor of his glorious stigmatization. – Our actions are ‘beautiful’ when they reflect the light of God.

21

On Alverna, St. Francis received a more complete pledge of his mystical union, for Christ gave him all He possessed, the living nails which He placed in the hands and feet of His faithful servant, the piercing of His divine heart which He bestowed on Francis by opening in his side a gaping wound like that inflicted by the soldier’s lance on Calvary. – Mary is the ‘mother of reconciliation and the reconciled, the mother of salvation and the saved’ (St. Anselm)

22

He was also granted many of the gifts of the glorified body…His body soared above the earth, while his heart was enraptured with the love of the Savior who had regenerated his humble flesh, making it like to His own, resplendent with heavenly light. – Christ heals what is sick, strengthens what is bruised.

23

Francis’ flesh, adorned with the sacred stigmata, no longer retained any of the shameful remains of original sin.  His purified, sanctified body, consecrated by the love of the Redeemer, became a precious vessel containing and displaying the Victim of Calvary. (Celano, 101, 27) – Where a faint flame of goodness still burns, (Christ) revives it with the breath of his love.

24

Our seraphic Father’s last hours resembled those of his beloved Lord. The stigmata were not only a reward for his labors, but were also a source of progress in virtue…He used to say to his disciples: Brothers, let us begin to serve the Lord God because up to now we have made little or no progress.  (Celano 198, 24) – (Christ) forcefully proclaims justice and heals wounds with the balm of mercy.

25

Before he died, our seraphic Father said to his sons: I have done my work.  May Christ teach you what your task is. During his life, he had dared everything in order to attain to the divine ideal, Christ crucified. –  Peace, even if it is the fruit of political agreement and understanding between individuals and peoples, is the gift of God, whom we should insistently invoke with prayer and penance.

26

Our Franciscan vocation contains the seed of heroism, for, as the Vicar of Christ (Pope Leo XIII) has said, The Religious of the first two Orders have a special grace for tending with heroic ardor toward the sanctity of the evangelical counsels. – Without conversion of heart there is no peace!

27

According as we are faithful, God gives us new lights in our intellect and new strength of will thus leading us further along the narrow path of sanctity toward the fullness of charity.  Our fidelity should be perpetual. – Peace can only be achieved through love!

28

We must be faithful during our whole life, for God demands of us this perpetual fidelity…Our salvation depends on our perseverance, since it is the successful end, not the beginning of a combat that gives victory. – The vitality of the church today is linked to the generosity of (the) lives (of missionaries).

29

The Church and society expect great things of the sons and daughters of St. Francis. What will keep us worthy of the trust placed in us? What will sustain us in our upward flight and prevent us from falling to earth? The answer of course is fervent prayer, for the bond between the spirit of prayer and the spirit of religious Orders is so close that both spirit and prayer increase or decline together. – There could never be grounds for conflict so serious that the reasons of force need prevail over the force of reason.

30

 Beloved Father, mirror and exemplar of seraphic perfection, renew our first fervor.  We have been admitted to the great honor of professing the way of life which you consecrated by your teaching and example.  May we never cease to follow in your footsteps and to strive after our  noble  ideal. (Esprit de Saint Francois, IV, 4, 6) – It is in faithful self-giving that a person finds fullness of certainty and security.

 

Thoughts for the Day – March, 2019 by Father Francis

 

March 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Amen

Prayer Inspired  by the Our Father – abbreviated

Following are daily excerpts taken from various sources.

1

Once there was a great war between the citizens of Perugia and Assisi. Francis was captured … and …endured the squalor of prison.  His fellow captives were overcome with sadness … but Francis rejoiced in the Lord. (2Celano, bk.1, chpt.1) – Passion according to Matthew: chpts. 26&27 – Anyone can stand up to an opponent: give me someone who can stand up to a friend.

2

Though staying in a pit and in darkness, he was imbued with an indescribable happiness never before experienced. (1 Celano, bk.1, chpt.5) – Passion according to Mark: chpts.14&15 – I may have all the faith needed to move mountains, but if I have no love, I am nothing.

3

He rose therefore swift, energetic and joyful, carrying the shield of faith for the Lord, and strengthened with the armor of great confidence, he set out for the city. (1Celano, bk.1, chpt.5) – Passion according to Luke: chpts. 22&23 – We get no deeper into Christ than we allow him to get in us.

4

Though delighting for the most part (in his dream), he silently wondered to himself  about its meaning…With a happy spirit he awoke the next morning…Considering his vision a prediction of great success… (1Celano, bk.1, chpt.2) – Resurrection Gospels: Luke 24 and John 20 – The Gospels do not explain Easter; Easter explains the Gospels.

5

When morning came, then, he returned in haste to Assisi, free of care and filled with joy, and, already made an exemplar of obedience, he awaited the Lord’s will. (Major Legend,chpt.1,#3) – 1 Corinthians 1&2 – The lives of Jesus’ followers changed the course of human history. No reasonable explanation has ever been given for their transformed lives except their own: they had seen Jesus alive.

6

Saint Francis with his brothers rejoiced greatly at the task and the favor given by so great a father and lord.  They gave thanks to Almighty God, who places the lowly on high and raises up mourners to health. (1Celano,bk.1,chpt.14) – 1 Corinthians 3&4 – That which you cannot let go of, you do not possess.  It possesses you.

7

They had great joy, because they saw nothing and had nothing that could give them empty or carnal delight…Only divine consolation delighted them, having put aside all their cares about earthly things. (1Celano,bk.1,chpt.14) – 1 Corinthians 5&6 – One does not discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the shore.

8

This holy man insisted that spiritual joy was an infallible remedy against a thousand  snares and tricks of the enemy.  He used to say: ‘The devil is most delighted when he can steal the joy of spirit from a servant of God’…(2Celano,bk.2,chpt.88) – 1 Corinthians 7&8 – We can live forty days without food, eight minutes without air, but about one second without hope.

9

‘But if spiritual joy fills the heart, the serpent casts its poison in vain. The devils cannot harm a servant of Christ when they see him, filled with holy cheerfulness.’ (2Celano,bk.2,chpt.88) – 1 Corinthians 9&10 – Our job is not to do something for the Church, but to do something with it.

10

The saint therefore always strove to keep a joyful heart, to preserve the anointing of the spirit and the oil of gladness. He avoided very carefully the dangerous disease of melancholy, so that when he felt even a little of it slipping into his heart, he quickly rushed to prayer.  (2Celano,bk.2,chpt.88) – 1 Corinthians 11&12 – No one ever made more trouble than the “gentle Jesus, meek and mild.”

11

O martyr, laughing and rejoicing, who endured so gladly what was bitter and painful for others to see! (1Celano,bk.2,chpt.7) – 1Corinthians13&14 – Sorrow looks back, worry looks around, faith looks up.

12

I see that (the devils) cannot harm me through myself.  Indeed whenever I feel tempted and depressed and I look at the joy of my companion, because of that joy I immediately turn away from temptation and melancholy toward inner and outer joy. (Mirror Perfection, #96) – 1Corinthians15&16 – The person who isn’t busy being born is busy dying.

13

By a joyful face he understood the fervor and solicitude, the disposition and readiness of a mind and body to willingly undertake every good work;  because through this kind of fervor and disposition others are motivated than through the good deed itself. (Mirror Perfection, #96) – 2Corinthians 1,2,3 – We can’t understand the Holy Spirit, but we can understand the Spirit’s impact on our lives.

14

He did not want to see a gloomy face, which more often shows laziness, a closed mind, and a body listless for every good work. (Mirror of Perfection,#96) – 2 Corinthians 4&5 – I cannot change the whole world, but I can change a small part if it…myself.

15

It is not right for a servant of God to show himself  to others sad and upset, but always pleasant.  Deal with your offenses in your room, and weep and moan before your God. (2Celano, bk.2, chpt.91) – 2 Corinthians 6,7,8 – God is already in our lives.  Our business is to recognize this.

16

Wherever the brothers may be and in whatever place they meet they should respect spiritually and attentively one another, and honor one another without complaining.  Let them be careful not to appear outwardly as sad and gloomy but show themselves joyful, cheerful and consistently gracious in the Lord. (Earlier Rule,#7) – 2 Corinthians 9&10 – Blessed are they who place themselves in the hands of Jesus.  He will place himself in their hands.

17

They (the brothers) walked with joy wherever they went, speaking among themselves about the words of the Lord, and saying nothing among themselves which did not serve the glory and praise of God, and the good of the soul. (Three Companions, chpt.12) – 2 Corinthians 11,12,13 – What we usually pray to God is not that his will be done, but that he approve ours.

18

When they laughed, they were filled with happiness and spiritual joy, so that they no longer remembered the adversities they experienced. (Anonymous of Perugia,chpt.6) – Daniel 1&2 –How else but through a broken heart may the Lord Christ enter in?

19

Whether ill or in good health they (the brothers) were always joyful and patient. (Anonymous of Perugia,chpt.6) – Daniel 3 – Only when we learn to see the invisible, will we learn to do the impossible.

20

They were always joyful in the Lord, having nothing within them or among them that could in some way bring them sadness. (Three Companions,chpt.11) – Daniel 4 – The effect of our sharing in the body and blood of Christ is to change us into what we receive.

21

Blessed is that religious who has no pleasure and joy except in the most holy words and deeds of the Lord and, with these, leads people to the love of God with gladness and joy. (Admonitions,#20) – Daniel 5&6 – Nature does not know extinction.  All it knows is transformation.

22

He himself felt great joy in the Lord when he heard the words of Sacred Scripture. (Legend of Perugia,#38) – Daniel 7&8 – Often the “god” that people reject is not the true God, but a mistaken notion of God that exists only in their minds.

23

If a servant of God always strives to have and preserve internally and externally the spiritual joy that proceeds from  purity of heart and is acquired through the devotion of prayer, the evils could do him no harm. (Mirror of Perfection,#95) – Daniel 9&10 – Lord, help us to deal with ugly situations in a beautiful way.

24

Because spiritual joy springs from integrity of heart and the purity of constant prayer, it must be your primary concern to acquire and preserve these two virtues, to possess internal, as well as external joy. (Mirror of Perfection,#95) – Daniel 11&12 – To be ignorant of the scriptures is to be ignorant of Christ.

25

Whenever he used to say your name, O holy Lord, he was moved in a way beyond human understanding.  He was so wholly taken up in joy, filled with pure delight, that he truly seemed a new person of another age. (1Celano,chpt.29) – Daniel 13&14 – Jesus came not to eradicate suffering, but to fill it with his presence.

26

Sometimes he used to do this: a sweet melody of the spirit bubbling up inside him would become a French tune on the outside; the thread of a divine whisper which his ears heard secretly would break out in French song of joy. (2Celano,bk.2,chpt.89) – Hosea 1&2 – The old law about “an eye for an eye” leaves everybody blind.

27

(The thieves) beat him and threw him into a ditch filled with snow, saying, ‘Lie there, you stupid herald of God!’… He jumped out of the ditch, and exhilarated with a great joy, he began in an even  louder voice to make the woods resound with praises to the Creator of all. (Major Legend,.chpt.2) – Hosea 3,4,5 – The living Christ still has two hands, one to point the way, and the other held out to help us along the way.

28

Where there is poverty with joy, there is neither greed nor avarice. (Admonitions,#27) – Hosea 6,7,8 – If Christ were standing before me now, what would I feel, not about him, but about myself?

29

(Saint Francis dying, said to Brother Elias) ‘Allow me to rejoice in the Lord, Brother, and to sing His praises in my infirmities, because, by the grace of the Holy Spirit, I am so closely united and joined with my Lord, that, through His mercy, I can well rejoice in the Most High Himself.’ (Mirror of Perfection,#121) – Hosea 9,10,11 – The goal of religion is not to get us into heaven, but to get heaven into us.

30

(As Saint Francis lay dying the guardian) took the tunic with a cord and underwear, and offered them to the little poor man of Christ, saying: ‘I am lending these to you as to a poor man, and you are to keep them with the command of holy obedience. At this the holy man rejoiced and was delighted in the gladness of his heart, because he saw that he had kept faith until the end with Lady Poverty. (Major Legend, chpt.14) – Hosea12,13,14 – You cannot have God for your Father, if you don’t have the Church for your mother.

31

Blessed Francis, like the rising sun, brightened the world by his life, his teaching and his miracles. – Our objective in life is to become a saint.