July 2021 Thoughts for the Day by Father Francis Sariego, OFM Cap

July 2021

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) 

Following are excerpts taken from The Anonymous of Perugia

The Anonymous of Perugia 

Chapter VIII 

HOW HE ORDERED THAT A CHAPTER BE HELD 

AND THE MATTERS TO BE TREATED AT THE CHAPTER 

 

On Pentecost all the brothers used to gather for a chapter near the church of Saint Mary of the Portiuncula. At the chapter they would discuss how they could better observe the Rule. They appointed brothers who would preach to the people throughout each of the provinces, and assigned brothers in their province. – Half the confusion in the world comes from not knowing how little we need

Saint Francis used to give the brothers admonitions, corrections and precepts, as it seemed best to him, after consulting the Lord. – God in heaven let me feel my nothingness to feel the greatness of your goodness. 

Everything, however, that he said in word, he would first, with eagerness and affection, show them in deed. – Why we do we say “Our Father” on Sunday and go around the rest of the week as orphans? 

He used to revere prelates and priests of the holy Church. He would respect the elderly, and honored the noble and the wealthy. He loved the poor intimately and showed compassion to them. In a word, he showed himself to be subject to all. – Look for the best in others and you will find the best in yourself. 

Although he was more exalted than all other brothers, he still appointed one of the brothers staying with him as his guardian and master. He humbly and devoutly obeyed him, in order to avoid any occasion of pride. – Little things and little moments are not really little. 

Among people this saint lowered his head even to the ground, and for this the Lord lifted him on high among the saints and elect in heaven. He zealously used to admonish them to observe the holy Gospel and the Rule conscientiously as they had promised; and especially to be reverent toward ecclesiastical offices and regulations; to be attentive and devoted when hearing Mass, and when they saw the Body of our Lord Jesus Christ. – When things seem at their worst, Christians must be at their best. 

They were to have reverence toward priests who handle these tremendous and greatest sacraments and, whenever they encountered them, they were to bow their heads to them and kiss their hands. – To transform the world we must first transform ourselves. 

He also admonished them not to judge or look down upon anyone, not even those who drink and eat and dress extravagantly, as stated in the Rule. “Their Lord is also our Lord. He who called us can call them, and He who willed to justify us can also justify them.” He would say: “And I wish to honor them as my brothers and masters. They are my brothers, because we are all from the one Creator; they are my masters because they help us to do penance, providing us with necessities of life.” – There is a hole in every heart that only God can fill. 

He also told them: “Let your way of life among the people be such that whoever sees or hears you will glorify and praise our heavenly Father.” His great desire was that he and his brothers would perform deeds through which the Lord would be praised. – We must fight what is wrong but do it in good humor. 

10 

He used to tell them: “As you announce peace with your mouth, make sure that you have greater peace in your hearts, thus no one will be provoked to anger or scandal because of you. Let everyone be drawn to peace and kindness through your peace and gentleness. – It is never the wrong time to do the right thing

11 

For we have been called to this: to cure the wounded, to bind up the broken, and to recall the erring. Many who seem to us members of the devil will yet be disciples of Christ.” – We must spend more time living our religion (charism) than arguing about it. 

12 

On the other hand, he used to reprove them for the great austerity which they brought upon their bodies, for the brothers were then exerting too much effort in fasts, vigils, and bodily mortification … When he heard and saw this, blessed Francis reprimanded them, as we said, and ordered them not to act excessively. – Carry your cross patiently and in the end it will carry you

13 

He was so filled with the Savior’s grace and wisdom, that he would make his admonition with kindness, his reprimand with reason, and his command with gentleness. Among the brothers assembled at chapter, not one of them dared to discuss worldly matters with anyone. Instead, they spoke about the lives of the holy fathers, or about the holiness of one of the brothers, or how they could better attain the grace of our Lord. – Kindness is loving people more than (we think) they deserve. 

14 

If any of the brothers gathered at chapter experienced temptations of the flesh or the world, or some other kind of trial, the temptations would go away either on hearing blessed Francis who would speak fervently and sweetly, or on seeing his presence. For he spoke to them compassionately, not as a judge, but as a father to his children and a doctor to his patient, so that, the words of the Apostle were fulfilled in him: Who is weak that I am not affected by it? Who is scandalized that I am not aflame with indignation? – Life can be understood backward but it must be lived forward

 

Chapter IX 

HOW THE BROTHERS WERE SENT THROUGHOUT 

ALL THE PROVINCES OF THE WORLD 

15 

Once a chapter had ended, he would bless all the brothers at chapter and designated each of them throughout the provinces, as he wished. Whoever of them had the spirit of God and the eloquence for preaching—cleric or lay—to him he would give permission and an obedience to preach. They received his blessing with great happiness and joy in the Lord Jesus Christ. – Repentance is altering one’s way of looking at life

16 

They went through the world as strangers and pilgrims, taking nothing for the journey, except the books in which they could say their Hours. Whenever they met a priest, whether rich or poor, they bowed to him, as blessed Francis had taught them, and paid their respect. When it was time to seek lodging, they preferred to stay with them, rather than with secular persons. – Repentance is taking God’s point of view and not my own

17 

When they could not find lodging with priests, they would inquire who in that locality was a good and God-fearing person with whom they could be more suitably welcomed. After a while, the Lord inspired one such God-fearing person in each of the cities and towns they were prepared to visit to prepare a lodging for them, until, after a while, they built their own dwellings in the cities and towns. – To be controlled by the Spirit results in life and peace

18 

The Lord gave the brothers the words and spirit suited to the time, to speak with incisive words, penetrating the hearts of many, but especially the young more than the elderly. Those who abandoned mother and father, and all their possessions, put on the habit of the holy religion. – Lighthouses blow no horns; they only shine

19 

At that time and particularly in that religion, the word of the Lord in the Gospel was fulfilled: Do not suppose that my mission on earth is to spread peace. My mission is to spread not peace, but division. I have come to set a man at odds with his father and a daughter with her mother. – It takes years for an overnight success. 

20 

Those whom the brothers accepted, they brought to the blessed Francis to invest them. In the same way, many women, virgins and those without husbands, hearing their preaching, would come to them with contrite hearts, saying: “And we, what are we to do? We cannot stay with you. So tell us what we can do to save our souls.” In response, they established, in every city they could, reclusive monasteries for doing penance. – We see things not as they are but as we are

21 

They also appointed one of the brothers their visitator and corrector.  Similarly, married men said: “We have wives who will not permit us to send them away. Teach us, therefore, the way that we can take more securely.” The brothers founded an order for them, called the Order of Penitents, and had it approved by the Supreme Pontiff. – In prayer it is better to have a heart without words than words without a heart

 

Chapter X 

WHEN THE CARDINALS BECAME KINDLY DISPOSED TOWARD THE BROTHERS 

AND BEGAN TO COUNSEL AND OFFER THEM ASSISTANCE 

22 

The venerable father, the Lord Cardinal, John of Saint Paul, who frequently offered counsel and protection to blessed Francis, would praise the merits and deeds of blessed Francis and all of his brothers to all the other cardinals. – Aspire to do the will of God: nothing more, nothing less, nothing else. 

23 

When they heard him, their hearts were moved to loving the brothers and each of them desired to have some brothers in his Curia, not for receiving service from them, but because of the devotion and love that they had toward the brothers. – People wait to see what we do about our religion (Franciscan charism) than what we say about it

24 

One day when blessed Francis came to the Curia, particular cardinals asked him for some brothers; and he graciously acceded to their request. – When good people do nothing, evil triumphs

25 

After this, the Lord inspired one of the cardinals, Hugolino, the bishop of Ostia, who loved blessed Francis and his brothers very much, not merely as a friend, but even more as a father. When blessed Francis heard of his reputation, he approached him. – Good leaders know, show and go the way

26 

When the cardinal saw him, he received him with joy and said: “I offer myself to you for counsel, assistance, and protection as you wish, and I want you to have me remembered in your prayers.” – True spiritual vision is the ability to see the invisible. 

27 

Blessed Francis gave thanks to the Most High for inspiring that man’s heart to offer advice, assistance, and protection, and told him: “I gladly want to have you as the father and lord of me and of all my brothers. And I want all my brothers to be bound to pray to the Lord for you.” – Build your lives on Jesus. 

28 

Then he invited him to come to the chapter of the brothers at Pentecost. He agreed and came each year. Whenever he came, all the brothers gathered at the chapter would go in procession to meet him. As they were coming, he would dismount from his horse and go on foot with the brothers to the church because of the devotion he had for them. – If you cannot find happiness on the way, do not think that you will find happiness at the end of the road. 

29 

Afterward he would preach to them and celebrate Mass during which blessed Francis would chant the Gospel. – One stands best who kneels the most.   

Chapter XI 

HOW THE CHURCH PROTECTED THE BROTHERS FROM PERSECUTORS 

30 

After eleven years had passed since the founding of the religion and the number of brothers had increased… They had endured many trials from clerics and laity and had been stripped by thieves, they returned to blessed Francis very embittered and depressed.   The brothers informed the Lord Cardinal of Ostia about these situations. Once he called blessed Francis to himself, he took him to the Lord Pope Honorius. After this happened and the brothers lived and preached there, many people, seeing their humble way of life, upright conduct, and their very pleasant words, came to the brothers and put on the habit of holy religion. – When we do what we can, God will do what we can’t

31 

Blessed Francis petitioned the Lord Pope for one of the cardinals who would be the governor, protector, and corrector of this religion, as stated in the Rule. And he granted him the Lord of Ostia…Seeing the trust and love that the Lord of Ostia had for the brothers, blessed Francis loved him from the depths of his heart, and when he would write to him, he would say: “To the venerable father in Christ, Bishop of the entire world.” After a short time had passed, the Lord of Ostia was elected to the Apostolic See, according to the prophecy of blessed Francis, and is called Pope Gregory the Ninth. – Only when we learn to see the invisible will we learn to do the impossible

 

Thought for the Day – June 2021 – Father Francis Sariego, OFM Cap

June 2021  

All-powerful, most holy, Almighty and supreme God, 

Holy and just Father, Lord King of heaven and earth 

we thank You for Yourself, for through Your holy will 

and through Your only Son with the holy Spirit 

You have created everything spiritual and corporal 

… making us in Your own image and likeness,… 

We thank You… 

Daily excerpts from the Anonymous of Perugia 

Thought after each Franciscan excerpt from various spiritual writers 

Chapter VI 

THE BROTHERS’ MANNER OF LIVING 

AND THE LOVE THEY HAD FOR ONE ANOTHER 

1

Each time they saw one another, the brothers were filled with such delight and spiritual joy that they forgot all the adversity and the extreme poverty they had suffered. – Sometimes we desire to be good angels and forget to be good people.

2

One day, two brothers were walking along a road when suddenly a simpleton began throwing stones at them. One of them, seeing that a stone was about to strike his brother, ran directly in front of him. Because of ardent mutual love, he preferred that the stone strike him rather than his brother. They frequently did these and similar things. – Our imperfections will accompany us to the end.

3

They were rooted and founded in love and humility, and one would respect the other as if he were his master. Whoever among them excelled because of a position or gifts of grace, seemed even more humble and self-effacing than the others. – Be content with walking with your feet on the ground living the reality of each day with trust.

4

They all dedicated themselves wholeheartedly to obedience. Whatever they were ordered, they considered to be to the Lord’s will. Thus it was pleasant and easy for them to fulfill everything. –  The next life will be all that we could ever desire or imagine and more…it is GOD!

5

If one unwittingly uttered a word that could possibly give offense to another, his conscience reproached him so much that he could find no peace until he confessed his fault. – The most beautiful act of faith is when one must make an effort to do so. 

6

And so they strove to combat each vice with a corresponding virtue. Whatever they had, a book or a tunic, was used in common and no one called anything his own, just as it was done in the primitive church of the Apostles. – Rest assured and be happy that God is pleased to find a peaceful dwelling in you.

7

When they went along and came upon poor people begging from them, some of the brothers would give them some of their clothing, since they had nothing else to give. One of them even tore the capuche from his tunic and gave it to a poor beggar; while another tore off a sleeve and gave it away; and still others gave away a part of their tunic to observe that Gospel passage: Give to all who ask of you. – Temptations, discomfort, and restlessness are the merchandise offered by the enemy, so reject them.

8

One day a poor man came to the church of Saint Mary of the Portiuncula where the brothers were staying and asked for alms. There was a cloak there that one of them had while he was still in the world. Blessed Francis told the brother, whose cloak it was, to give it to the poor man. He freely and quickly gave it to him. – When the devil makes noise around you, he is still not within. Be at peace.

9

And immediately, because of the reverence and dedication that the brother had in donating the gift, it seemed to him that the alms rose up to heaven and he felt himself filled with a new spirit. – No matter how great the trial, do not lose heart.

10

When the rich of this world went out of their way to visit them, they received them quickly and kindly, and would invite them to call them back from evil, and prompt them to do penance. At that time, the brothers would eagerly beg not to be sent to where they had been raised so that, in this way, they would avoid association and dealings with their relatives and observe the words of the Prophet: I have become an outcast to my brothers, a stranger to my mother’s sons. – Lift up your voice loudly to Jesus.

11

They rejoiced most in their poverty, for they desired no riches except those of eternity. They never possessed gold or silver, and, although they despised all wealth of this world, it was money especially that they trampled underfoot. – God’s power triumphs over everything.

12

One day while the brothers were staying at Saint Mary of the Portiuncula, some people came for a visit. They entered the church and placed some money on the altar without their knowledge. Then, one of the brothers, entering the church, took the coins he had found, and put them on the church’s windowsill. Another brother, when he found the money where the other one left it, took it to Saint Francis. – Humble and suffering prayer prevails over God Himself. 

13

When blessed Francis heard this, he diligently asked which one of the brothers had placed the money there. When he found out who it was, he ordered him to come to him. “Why did you do this?” he said. “Didn’t you know that I want the brothers not only to avoid using money, but also not even to touch it?” When the brother heard this, he bowed his head, confessed his fault on his knees, and asked that a penance be given him. – Live humbly.

14

Then Francis admonished the brothers that whenever they found money, they should scorn it and consider it worthless. They were constantly rejoicing, for they had nothing that could disturb them. The more they were separated from the world, the more were they united to God. – Do not be upset over your infirmities or weaknesses but humbly and frankly bring them to God.

15

These men entered upon a narrow and rough trail. They broke up the rocks, trampled upon the thorns, and so have left us, their followers, a smooth path. – God sustains us when we fall and cares for those who trust in Him.

 

Chapter VII 

HOW THEY TRAVELED TO ROME AND 

HOW THE LORD POPE GRANTED THEM A RULE 

AND THE OFFICE OF PREACHING 

 

16

As he realized that the Savior’s grace was increasing his brothers in number and merit, blessed Francis told them: “Brothers, I see that the Lord intends to make of us a large congregation. Therefore, let us go to our mother, the Roman Church, and inform the Supreme Pontiff about what the Lord is doing through us so we may continue doing what we have begun by his will and command.” – Thank God for treating you as a soul chosen to follow Jesus.

17

He took the twelve with him, and they went to Rome. While they were on the way, he told them: “Let us make one of us the leader and consider him the vicar of Jesus Christ for us. Wherever he wants to go, we will go; when he wants to rest, we will rest.” They chose Brother Bernard, who was the first to be received by the blessed Francis, and they did as he said. – Be patient with yourself.

18

They made their way rejoicing and spoke about the words of the Lord. No one dared to say anything unless it pertained to the Lord’s praise and glory or to the benefit of their souls, and they spent time in the Lord. – Live tranquilly and follow the path on which the Lord has placed you, and in a holy manner.

19

When they arrived in Rome, they met the bishop of the city of Assisi who was then staying in the City. When he saw them, he welcomed them with immense joy. Now, the bishop was acquainted with one of the cardinals, the Lord John of St. Paul, a good and religious man, who loved servants of the Lord very much. – Remember that the mind can be quite well elevated to God while the body takes care of material matters.

20

The bishop of Assisi familiarized him with the proposal and life of blessed Francis and his brothers. After he heard these things, he had a strong desire to meet blessed Francis and some of the brothers. When he heard that they were in the City, he sent for them and had them come to him. Seeing them, he welcomed them with eagerness and love. – Do what you can and are supposed to do and Jesus, who sees the heart, will be pleased with you.

21

Even though they stayed with him for only a few days, he came to love them from the depths of his heart, because he saw shining forth in their actions all he had heard about them. He told blessed Francis: “I commend myself to your prayers and, from now on, I want you to consider me as one of your brothers. Therefore, tell me, why did you come?” – The Holy Spirit does not work in all souls in the same way. He blows as and where He wills.

22

Then blessed Francis made known to him his whole proposal: how he wanted to speak to the Apostolic Lord and, with his approval and mandate, to continue what he was doing. To which the cardinal responded: “I want to be your procurator at the Curia of the Lord Pope.” Thus it was that he went to the Curia and told the Lord Pope Innocent the Third: “I found a most perfect man who wishes to live according to the form of the holy Gospel and to observe evangelical perfection. Through him, I believe the Lord intends to renew His church in the entire world.” When he heard this, the Lord Pope was amazed and told him: “Bring him to me.” – Keep faithful to prayer even in challenging moments.

23

Blessed Francis laid his whole proposal before the Lord Pope, just as he had previously done to the cardinal. The Lord Pope answered him: “Your life is too hard and severe, if you wish to found a congregation possessing nothing in this world. For where will you obtain the necessities of life?” – Lift up your heart in the face of trials. God is with you.

24

Blessed Francis responded: “My Lord, I trust in my Lord Jesus Christ. Since He has promised to give us life and glory in heaven, He will not deprive us of our bodily necessities when we need them on earth.”  The pope replied, “human nature is weak and never remains in the same state. But, go and pray to the Lord with all your heart, so that He may show you what is better and more beneficial for your souls. Come back and tell me and I will then grant it.” – Jesus comforts and sustains us in all our afflictions and trials.

25

Francis withdrew to pray. With a pure heart, he prayed to the Lord that in His ineffable piety He would reveal this to him. While he was engaged in prayer, with his whole heart focused on the Lord, the word of the Lord came into his heart and spoke to him figuratively. – Be assured of the presence of the Holy Spirit Who comforts and directs those who trust in Him.

26

“There lived in the realm of a great king a very poor but beautiful woman, who caught the king’s eye and by whom he fathered many sons. The king told her: ‘Do not be afraid of your dire poverty, nor of the sons you have, and the many you will have. If the many hired hands in my house have their fill of food, I certainly do not want my own sons to die of hunger. No, I want them to have even more than the others.’” –  The providence of God knows no limits. The little we give lovingly is multiplied beyond imagining.

27

The man of God, Francis, immediately understood that the poor woman symbolized him. As a result, the man of God strengthened his resolve to observe most holy poverty in the future. Getting up at that very hour, he went to the Apostolic Lord, and told him all that the Lord had revealed to him. – Passions like temptations need our consent to determine whether we fall into sin or grow in grace.

28

On hearing this, the Lord Pope was greatly amazed that the Lord had revealed His will to so simple a man. And he realized that he was not proceeding according to human wisdom, but in the display and power of the Spirit. Then blessed Francis bowed down and humbly and devotedly promised obedience and reverence to the Lord Pope. And the other brothers, because they had not yet promised obedience, likewise promised obedience and reverence to blessed Francis according to the precept of the Lord Pope. – If fear surprises you, call out: Oh, Lord, save me!

29

The Lord Pope approved the rule for him and his brothers, both present and future.  He also gave him authority to preach everywhere as the grace of the Holy Spirit was given him and that the other brothers were also to preach, provided that blessed Francis gave them the office of preaching. From then on, blessed Francis began preaching to the people in the cities and villages, as the Spirit of the Lord revealed to him. – Hold tightly onto the hand of the Lord and confidently walk on the stormy sea of life.

30

The Lord placed in his mouth uncompromising, honey-flowing, and very sweet words, so that hardly anyone ever tired of listening to him. Because of his great love for the Brother, that cardinal had all twelve of them given the tonsure. Afterwards, Blessed Francis ordered that a chapter be held twice a year, on Pentecost and on the feast of Saint Michael in the month of September. –  Keep imprinted on your soul that God is our Father. So why fear if you are a child of such a Father?

Thought for the Day - May, 2021 - Father Francis Sariego, OFM Cap

May 2021 

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

and the one chosen by the most holy Father in heaven 

whom He consecrated with His most holy beloved Son 

and with the Holy Spirit the Paraclete, 

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

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

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

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

are poured into the hearts of the faithful so that from 

their faithless state you may make them faithful to God. 

(Salutation of the Blessed Virgin)  

Daily excerpts from the Anonymous of Perugia 

Thought after each Franciscan excerpt from the Words of Ven. Fulton J. Sheen  

Chapter III 

THE FIRST PLACE WHERE THEY STAYED AND PERSECUTION BY THEIR RELATIVES 

1

Once Brother Bernard and Brother Peter sold their possessions and gave the money to the poor, as we mentioned, they dressed like the man of God, blessed Francis, and became his companions. Having no place to stay, they went and found a poor and nearly abandoned church called Saint Mary of the Portiuncula. There they built a small dwelling where they all lived together. – Without God people only succeed in bringing out the worst in one another.

2

After eight days a man from that city, Giles, came to them. He was a very dedicated and faithful man, on whom God bestowed many graces. On his knees, he begged blessed Francis with great devotion and reverence to accept him into his company. When he heard and saw this, Blessed Francis was filled with joy and received him enthusiastically with open arms. – Sometimes the only way the good Lord can get into some hearts is to break them.

3

Blessed Francis then took Brother Giles with himself to the Marches of Ancona, while the other two remained behind. As they were going along, they rejoiced not a little in the Lord. Francis, the man of God, reveled in a very loud voice, singing out in French, praising and blessing the Lord. Indeed they were filled with great joy, as if they had just acquired an immense treasure. – Criticism of others is thus an oblique form of self-commendation.

4

They were able to rejoice so much because they had forsaken so much, and considered as dung the things over which people usually grieve. They regarded as bitter what people of the world consider desirable, things that bring about much misery and grief. – If you don’t behave as you believe, you will end by believing as you behave.

5

Then blessed Francis told his companion, Brother Giles: “Our religion will be like a fisherman who casts his nets into the water, catching a great number of fish. Seeing the large number of fish, he puts the big ones in his baskets, leaving the small ones in the water.” Giles was astonished at the prophecy that the saint uttered, for he knew how few the brothers were. – When a man loves a woman, he has to become worthy of her. The higher her virtue, the more noble her character, the more devoted she is to truth, justice, goodness, the more a man has to aspire to be worthy of her. The history of civilization could actually be written in terms of the level of its women.

6

The man of God did not yet preach to the people. But while they were going through towns and villages, he would encourage men and women to fear and love the Creator of heaven and earth and to do penance for their sins. Brother Giles would respond: “What he says is very good. Believe him.” – Unless there is a Good Friday in your life, there can be no Easter Sunday. 

7

Those who heard them would say to each other: “Who are these men, and what are these words they’re saying?” Some of them used to say that they seemed to be fools or drunkards, while others would say: “The words coming out of their mouths are not those of fools.” One of them said: “Either they are clinging to the Lord for the sake of the highest perfection, or they have gone mad, for their physical life seems reckless. They walk barefoot, wear cheap clothing, and eat very little.” – There are not one hundred people in the United States who hate The Catholic Church, but there are millions who hate what they wrongly perceive the Catholic Church to be.

8

Yet there was no one who followed them at that time. Young women, seeing them at a distance, would run away fearing they would be taken in by foolishness. Even though hardly anyone followed them, people remained nevertheless in awe at the holy way of life with which they seemed to be marked for the Lord’s sake. After they had traveled around that province, the brothers returned to Saint Mary of the Portiuncula. – Far better it is for you to say: I am a sinner, than to say: I have no need of religion. (Rule, Constitutions, Church Law)

9

After a few days had elapsed, three other men from Assisi, Brother Sabbatino, Brother John and Brother Morico the Short, came to them, humbly begging Blessed Francis to admit them into his company. He received them kindly and eagerly. However, when they went about the city begging alms, scarcely anyone was willing to give to them; instead they would tell them: “You got rid of your own possessions, and now you want to eat those of others.” – Too many people get credit for being good, when they are only being passive.

10

Thus, they suffered extreme want. Even their relatives and families would persecute them. Others from that city—great and small, men and women—would scorn and ridicule them as senseless and stupid, except for the city’s bishop to whom the blessed Francis frequently went to seek counsel. – You must remember to love people and use things, rather than to love things and use people.

11

One day when the blessed Francis had gone to that bishop, the bishop told him: “It seems to me that your life is very rough and hard, not having or possessing anything in this world.” The saint of God answered: “Lord, if we had any possessions, we would need arms to protect them because they cause many disputes and lawsuits. And possessions usually impede the love of God and neighbor. Therefore we do not want to possess anything in this world.” And this answer pleased the bishop. – Any book which inspires us to lead a better life is a good book. (Scriptures, Writings of Sts. Francis and Clare)

Chapter IV 

HOW HE ADMONISHED THE BROTHERS AND SENT THEM THROUGHOUT THE WORLD 

12

Saint Francis, since he was already filled with the grace of the Holy Spirit, predicted what would happen to his brothers. And calling together his six brothers in the woods next to the church of Saint Mary of the Portiuncula where they often went to pray, he told them: “My dear brothers, let us consider our calling because God has mercifully called us not only for our own good but also for the salvation of many. – A teacher who cannot explain any abstract subject to a child does not himself thoroughly understand his subject; if he does not attempt to break down his knowledge to fit the child’s mind, he does not understand teaching. (our Franciscan charism)

13

Therefore, let us go through the world, encouraging and teaching men and women by word and example to do penance for their sins and to remember the Lord’s commandments, which they have forgotten for such a long time.” He also told them: “Do not be afraid, little flock, but have confidence in the Lord. And do not say among yourselves ‘We are simple and illiterate men, how should we preach?’ – America, it is said, is suffering from intolerance — it is not. It is suffering from tolerance. Tolerance of right and wrong, truth and error, virtue and evil, Christ and chaos. (Faithfulness to Profession of Rule and Constitutions!)

14

But be mindful of the Lord’s words to his disciples: ‘You yourselves will not be the speakers; the Spirit of your Father will be speaking in you.’ For the Lord Himself will give you spirit and wisdom to encourage and preach to men and their wives the way and deeds of the commandments. – Never forget that there are only two philosophies to rule your life: the one of the cross, which starts with the fast and ends with the feast. The other of Satan, which starts with the feast and ends with the headache.

15

You will find, however, faithful people—meek, humble and kind—who will receive you and your words with joy and love. You will find others—unfaithful, proud, and blasphemous—resisting and criticizing you and your words. Therefore, resolve in your hearts to bear all these things with patience and humility.” When the brothers heard these words, they were afraid. – We get angry when someone denies their faults, because we knew them all along. The lying mocks our affection; it is the deceit that angers us more than the faults. (paraphrase)

16

Realizing that they were frightened, he told them: “Do not be frightened. Keep in mind that within a short time many learned, prudent and noble men will be with us. They will preach to nations and peoples, to kings and princes, and many people will be converted to the Lord. And the Lord will make His family grow and increase throughout the entire world.” After saying this, Francis blessed them and they went on their way. – Once you have surrendered yourself, you make yourself receptive.

Chapter V 

THE PERSECUTIONS WHICH THE BROTHERS ENDURED  

AS THEY WENT THROUGHOUT THE WORLD 

17

Wherever these devout servants of the Lord walked along and came upon a church, whether in use or abandoned, or upon some cross alongside the road, they would pray devoutly: “We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you, and in all your churches throughout the whole world, because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.” – When a child is given to his parents, a crown is made for that child in Heaven, and woe to the parents who raise a child without consciousness of that eternal crown! 

18

And they believed and felt that they had found a place of the Lord. Those who saw them were amazed: “We have never seen religious dressed like this.” They seemed to differ from all others by their habit and lifestyle, like wild men. – We become like that which we love.

19

When they entered a city, town or a home, they would announce peace. Whenever they saw men or women on the streets or in the piazzas, they would encourage them to fear and love the Creator of heaven and earth, to remember His commandments that they had forgotten, and to strive to fulfill them. – Show me your hands. Do they have scars from giving? Show me your feet. Are they wounded in service? Show me your heart. Have you left a place for divine love?

20

Some people willingly and joyfully listened to the brothers; others, however, jeered at them. Many people repeatedly questioned them, and it was extremely wearisome to answer so many questions because new situations often gave rise to new questions. – Nothing ever happens in the world that does not happen first inside human hearts.

21

Some asked them: “Where do you come from?” While others asked: “To which Order do you belong?” They answered simply: “We are penitents and were born in Assisi.” At that time the religion of the brothers was not yet called an order. – Very few people believe in the devil these days, which suits the devil very well. He is always helping to circulate the news of his own death.

22

Many who saw and heard them considered them impostors or fools. Someone among them remarked: “I wouldn’t care to invite them into my house; they would probably steal my belongings.” And because of this, any number of insults were inflicted on them in many places. Therefore they very frequently sought lodging in the porticos of churches or houses. – The essence of God is existence, and He defines Himself as: ‘I am Who am.

23

About this time two brothers were in the city of Florence, going throughout the city in search of a place to stay, but were unable to find any. When they found a house with a portico containing a bread-oven, they said to each other: “We can stay here.” They therefore asked the lady of the house if she would please welcome them into her home. When she instantly refused, they begged her at least to let them spend that night near the oven. – Why are those who are notoriously undisciplined and unmoral also most contemptuous of religion and morality? They are trying to solace their own unhappy lives by pulling the happy down to their own abysmal depths.

24

She let them do this. However, when her husband came home, and saw the brothers on the porch near the oven, he said to her: “Why did you offer lodging to these two rogues?” She answered: “I didn’t want to offer them hospitality in the house, but gave them permission to stay on the porch where they couldn’t steal anything from us except the firewood.” On account of this distrust, they did not want to give the brothers anything to cover themselves, although the weather was severely cold. –  The refusal to take sides on great moral issues is itself a decision. It is a silent acquiescence to evil. 

25

During that night the brothers got up for matins and went to the nearest church. When morning came, the lady went to church to hear Mass and saw them remaining devoutly and humbly in prayer. She said to herself: “If these men were evildoers, as my husband claimed, they would not be praying so reverently.” – The Tragedy of our time is that those who still believe in honesty lack fire and conviction, while those who believe in dishonesty are full of passionate conviction. 

26

While she was thinking these things, a man named Guido was going around the church distributing alms to the poor. When he approached the brothers, he attempted to give each one a coin, as he had done to the others, but they refused to take it. He told them: “Why don’t you accept coins like the other poor people, for I see that you are just as poor and needy?” – Books are the most wonderful friends in the world. When you meet them and pick them up, they are always ready to give you a few ideas. (Spiritual Reading)

27

One of them, Bernard, answered him: “While it is true that we are poor, our poverty is not as burdensome for us as it is for the other poor, for we have become poor by the grace of God and in fulfillment of His counsel.” – Patience is power. Patience is not an absence of action; rather it is “timing” it waits on the right time to act, for the right principles and in the right way.” – We think we make the picture hang straight on our wall by telling our neighbors that all his pictures are crooked.

28

Astonished, the man asked them if they had ever possessed anything in the world. They told him that they in fact had, but for the love of God had given their belongings to the poor. When that woman considered that the brothers had refused the coins, she approached them and said: “Christians, if you want to come back to my hospitality, I will gladly receive you into my home.” – They are too often praised for being broadminded when they are so broadminded they can never make up their minds about anything.

29

The brothers answered her with humility: “May the Lord reward you.” When that man realized that the brothers were unable to find lodging, he took them to his own house and told them: “Look, this is the lodging that the Lord has prepared for you. Stay here as long as you want.” – In receiving from God, you are perfected and completed.

30

The brothers thanked God for showing them His mercy and for hearing the cries of the poor. They stayed with him several days. Because of their words and good example, he was afterwards very generous to the poor. – If we love what is base, we become base; but if we love what is noble, we become noble.” 

31

Although they were treated by this man with kindness, others considered them good-for-nothings, so much so that many, the small and the great, treated them and spoke to them “as masters with their servants.” Although the brothers wore the poorest and cheapest clothes, for amusement many people still took these away from them. And so, even though they were left naked, for they had only one tunic, the brothers nevertheless always observed the form of the Gospel by not demanding back what was taken from them. However, if motivated by piety, the people returned the tunic, they willingly accepted it – Lovers who have nothing else to do but love each other soon find there is nothing else. Without a central loyalty (GOD) life is unfinished.

 

 

Thoughts for the Day – April 2021 – Father Francis Sariego, OFM Cap

April 2021 

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)

The next few months daily excerpts of the Franciscan story are taken from the

THE ANONYMOUS OF PERUGIA 

Daily spiritual quotes are from various sources

THE BEGINNING OR FOUNDING OF THE 

ORDER AND THE DEEDS OF THOSE LESSER BROTHERS 

WHO WERE THE FIRST COMPANIONS OF BLESSED FRANCIS IN RELIGION 

1

Servants of the Lord should not be ignorant of the lives and teachings of saints through which they can come to God. Therefore, for the honor of God and the edification of readers and listeners, I, who saw their deeds, listened to their words, and also became their disciple, have compiled and recounted, as the Lord inspired me, some deeds of our most blessed Father Francis and of a few of the brothers who lived at the beginning of the religion. – Walk with simplicity in the ways of the Lord. 

Chapter I 

HOW BLESSED FRANCIS BEGAN TO SERVE GOD 

2

On the sixteenth of April, after one thousand two hundred and seven years had been completed since the Incarnation of the Lord, God … enlightened a man who was in the city of Assisi, Francis by name, a merchant by trade, and a very vain spendthrift of worldly wealth. One day he was in the shop where he customarily sold cloth, totally absorbed in business, when a poor man came in, begging alms for the Lord’s sake. – Hate your faults, but with a quiet hate, not troublesome and restless. 

3

Preoccupied with thoughts of wealth and care of the business, Francis sent him away without giving him alms. After the poor man left, touched by divine grace, he began to accuse himself of great rudeness, a saying: “If the poor man had asked in the name of a count or a powerful baron, you would have granted him his request. How much more should you have done this for the King of Kings and the Lord of all?” – Be patient with your faults and gain from them holy humility.

4

Because of this incident, he resolved in his heart, from then on, never to refuse a request from anyone asking in the name of so great a Lord. He called the poor man back and gave him a generous alms.  After a while, a marvelous thing happened to this blessed man which in my estimation should not be passed over in silence. – What soul to whom Jesus has given himself as its inheritance can be unhappy? 

5

One night when he was asleep in his bed, someone appeared to him calling him by name. He led him into a palace of unspeakable beauty, filled with military arms, its walls covered everywhere with shining shields emblazoned with crosses. He inquired to whom these brightly shining arms and this beautiful palace belonged. – Let us spend our whole life giving thanks to the divine Father.

6

“All these things, including the palace,” said the guide, “belong to you and your knights.” Upon awakening, he began to interpret this in a worldly way, like someone who had not yet fully tasted God’s Spirit. He thought he would become a magnificent prince. After giving the matter much thought, he decided to become a knight to obtain this princely power. – Let us pray with the humility of the creature and the confidence and freedom of the child.

7

After having as expensive a wardrobe as possible made for himself, he arranged to join up with a noble count in Apulia, to be knighted by him. Everyone marveled that he was happier than usual, and when they asked him the reason why, he answered: “I know that I am going to be a great prince.” – Let nothing in the world distract us from contemplating the greatness of the Lord. 

8

It was night when he arrived in Spoleto and, anxious about his trip, he retired for the night. Half asleep, he heard a voice asking him where he intended to go. He outlined to him his whole plan. The voice then asked him: “Who can do more for you, the lord or the servant?” “The lord,” he answered. “Then why are you abandoning the lord for the servant, and the patron for the client?” – We sometimes desire to be good angels, and we neglect to be good people.

9

To which Francis responded: “Lord, what do you want me to do?” “Go back,” it said, “to your own land to do what the Lord will tell you.” It seemed to him that divine grace had suddenly made him a different man. – How burdensome this mortal life is to the children of God.

10

But when it was morning, he returned home as he had been told. And when, on the way back, he reached Foligno, he sold the horse he was riding as well as the wardrobe with which he had equipped himself for the expedition to Apulia, and put on cheaper clothing. – The most beautiful credo is that pronounced in the darkness, in times of sacrifice.

11

While he was returning from Foligno to Assisi, carrying the money he had obtained from these things, he approached a church built in honor of Saint Damian. He found the poor resident priest, named Peter, and gave him that money for safekeeping. – Remember this: That if the devil makes a din, he is still outside and not inside at all.

12

Not having a safe place to keep it, the priest refused the money. When the man of God, Francis, heard this, he threw the money on the windowsill of that church for he considered it worthless. Led by God’s Spirit, he resolved to use the money to rebuild its structure, seeing that the church was poor and on the verge of collapse. – No matter how great the trial, never lose heart.

13

After a while, with God’s approval, he completed the undertaking. When his father learned of this, he began to vent his rage against him, for he loved him in a worldly way and was longing for the money. He abused Francis with insults, demanding the return the money. – Have recourse with more childlike trust to Jesus who will never be able to resist bestowing on you some little solace and comfort.

14

In the presence of the bishop of Assisi, he promptly gave back to his father the money and clothes he was wearing. He stood there naked under the cloak of the bishop, who embraced him. Without any worldly possessions, dressed in cheap and very miserable clothing, he went back to that church to stay there. – Turn to Jesus at all times even when the devil tries to discourage you by making you more aware of your sins.

15

The Lord enriched the poor and contemptible man. Filling him with His Holy Spirit, He put into his mouth the words of life that he might preach and announce to the people judgment and mercy, punishment and glory and to recall to their minds the commandments of God they had forgotten. – God’s power triumphs over everything.

16

The Lord led him on a straight and narrow path. Desiring to possess neither gold nor silver, nor money nor any other thing, he followed the Lord in humility, poverty, and the simplicity of his heart. Walking about barefoot, he wore a contemptible habit with a wretched belt. – Humble and suffering prayer prevails over God himself.

17

And whenever his father met him, overwhelmed with great sorrow, he would curse him. The blessed man, however, took with him a poor old man named Alberto and asked him for a blessing. Many people used to laugh at him, insulting him with spiteful words. – Do not be surprised at your distractions and spiritual dryness.

18

Almost everyone considered him mad. But he did not care, nor did he answer them; instead, he strove with all eagerness to fulfill the task God had shown him. He walked not in the learned words of human wisdom, but in the display and the power of the Spirit. – Live tranquilly and do not be anxious.

Chapter II 

THE FIRST TWO BROTHERS WHO FOLLOWED BLESSED FRANCIS 

19

When they saw and heard these things, two men from Assisi, inspired by divine grace, humbly approached him. One of these was Brother Bernard, and the other, Brother Peter. They told Francis simply: “We wish to live with you from now on and do what you are doing. Tell us, therefore, what we should do with our possessions.” – Live humbly. Be docile and in love with your heavenly Lord.

20

Overjoyed at their coming and their resolve he answered them kindly: “Let us go and seek counsel from the Lord.” So they went to one of the city’s churches. Upon entering it, they fell on their knees and humbly prayed: “Lord, God, Father of glory, we beg you in your mercy, show us what we are to do.” – Do not be upset by any infirmities and weaknesses into which you can fall.

21

After finishing the prayer, they asked the priest of the church who was there: “Sir, would you show us the Gospel of Our Lord Jesus Christ”. And, since before this happened none of them knew how to read very well, when the priest opened up the book, they immediately found the passage If you wish to be perfect, go, sell everything you possess and give to the poor, and you will have a treasure in heaven. – Don’t upset yourself, but humbly and frankly confess before God and place everything before his divine mercy.

22

Opening up the book a second time, they discovered: Whoever wishes to come after me . . . . When they opened up the book for the third time, they came upon: Take nothing for the journey . . . When they heard this, they were filled with great joy and exclaimed: “This is what we want, this is what we were seeking.” And blessed Francis said: “This will be our rule.” – Let God be thanked for treating you as a soul to follow Jesus closely up the hill of Calvary.

23

Then he told both of them: “Go and may you fulfill the Lord’s counsel as you heard it.” – Stretch yourself out on the cross and be patient with yourself.

24

Then Brother Bernard, who was rich, sold all his possessions, acquiring a large sum of money from the transaction. Brother Peter, on the other hand, who was poor in worldly goods, now became rich in spiritual goods. Therefore, he also did as the Lord’s counsel would have it. Summoning the city’s poor people, they gave them the money acquired from the sale of their goods. – Follow the path on which the Lord has placed you, in a holy manner.

25

While they were doing this, and blessed Francis was present, a priest named Sylvester came. Blessed Francis had purchased stones from him for the repair of the church of San Damiano where he had lived before he acquired brothers. When the priest saw them giving away so much money, consumed by a burning passion of greed, he craved to be given some of that money. – Endeavor, without wearying yourself, to do what you can, and Jesus, who looks into the depths of the heart, will be pleased with you.

26

When blessed Francis, who had renounced all greed, heard him complaining unjustly, he approached … and putting his hand into his cloak where the money was, took out a handful of coins and gave them to the priest. “Do you now have full payment?” he asked. “I have it fully” – We are not all called to the same state.

27

Overjoyed the priest returned home. A few days later, the priest, inspired by the Lord, began to reflect on what blessed Francis had done. “Am I not miserable?” he said to himself. “Old as I am, don’t I still covet and desire the things of this world, and doesn’t this youth despise and scorn them for the love of God?” – The Holy Spirit does not work in all souls in the same way.

28

The following night he saw in a dream an immense cross whose top reached to the heavens, while its base rested in the mouth of blessed Francis. The arms of the cross reached from one part of the world to the other. – The Holy Spirit blows as he wills and where he wills.

29

Upon awakening, the priest then believed that blessed Francis was indeed God’s friend and that the religion he had founded would spread all over the world. – Do not be discouraged or frightened by your miseries and weaknesses, for God in his mercy did not reject you.

30

From that time on, he began to fear God and do penance in his own home. And after a little time had passed, he entered the Order of the brothers where he lived well and ended gloriously. – God will grant you his grace and will erect the throne of his glory on your misery and vileness.

 

 

Thoughts for the Day – March 2021 – Father Francis Sariego, OFM Cap

March 2021 

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

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

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

to the Most High and Supreme Eternal God, Trinity and Unity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, 

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

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

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

sublime, most high, gentle, lovable, delightful, and totally desirable above all else for ever. 

Amen. 

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

 

Month of Saint Joseph completes Holy Season of Lent. 

Let us invoke the patronage of St. Joseph to guide us on our journey. 

Chapter XIV 

THE CHAPTER THAT WAS HELD TWICE A YEAR 

AT SAINT MARY OF THE PORTIUNCULA 

1

After blessed Francis had obtained that place of Saint Mary from the abbot of Saint Benedict, he ordered that a chapter be held there twice a year, that is, on Pentecost and on the Dedication of Saint Michael. At Pentecost, all the brothers used to gather at the church of Saint Mary and discuss how they could better observe the Rule. – Remember that Calvary is the hill of the saints. 

2

They appointed brothers throughout the various provinces who would preach to the people, and assigned other brothers in their provinces. Saint Francis, however, used to give admonitions, corrections, and directives as it seemed to him to be according to the Lord’s counsel. Everything that he said to them in word, however, he would show them in deed with eagerness and affection. – Suffering is short-lived but the reward is eternal.

3

He used to revere prelates and priests of the holy Church, and honored the elderly, the noble, and the wealthy. Moreover, he intimately loved the poor, suffering deeply with them, and he showed himself subject to all. Although he was more elevated than all the brothers, he still appointed one of the brothers staying with him as his guardian and master. – Heaven and earth will pass away but the word of God assures that all who live in His will,  will sing victory.

4

He humbly and eagerly obeyed him, in order to avoid any occasion of pride. He zealously used to admonish the brothers to observe the holy Gospel and the Rule which they had firmly promised; and particularly to be reverent and devoted about divine services and ecclesiastical regulations, hearing Mass devotedly, and adoring the Body of the Lord even more devotedly.- May Jesus be your comfort and compensation in this life.

5

He wanted priests who handle the tremendous and greatest sacraments to be honored uniquely by the brothers. He also admonished the brothers not to judge anyone, nor to look down upon those who live with refinement and dress extravagantly or fashionably. For, he would say, their God is ours, the Lord Who is capable of calling them to Himself and justifying those called. – That Jesus never leaves us even for a moment should bring the greatest consolation.

6

He also used to tell them he wanted the brothers to show reverence to these people as their brothers and lords. They are brothers, because we were all created by one Creator; they are lords, because they help the good to do penance by providing them with the necessities of life. He added: “The brothers’ way of life among the people should be such that whoever hears or sees them glorifies and praises the heavenly Father with dedication.” – Live joyfully and courageously and don’t extinguish the Spirit of the Lord in you.

7

For his great desire was that he, as well as his brothers, would abound in such good deeds for which the Lord would be praised. He used to tell them: “As you announce peace with your mouth, make sure that greater peace is in your hearts. Let no one be provoked to anger or scandal through you, but may everyone be drawn to peace, kindness, and harmony through your gentleness. For we have been called to this: to heal the wounded, bind up the broken, and recall the erring. In fact, many who seem to us to be members of the devil will yet be disciples of Christ.” – Let us do good while we still have time.

8

Moreover, the pious father used to reprove his brothers who to him were too austere, exerting too much effort in those vigils, fasts and corporal punishments. Some of them afflicted themselves so harshly to repress within them every impulse of the flesh,  that they seemed to hate themselves. The man of God forbade them, admonishing them with kindness, reprimanding them with reason, and binding up their wounds with the bandages of wholesome precepts. – Sanctify yourself and give good example to others.

9

Among the brothers who had come to the chapter, no one dared to discuss worldly matters, but they spoke of the lives of the holy fathers, and how they could better and more perfectly find the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. If some of the brothers who came to the chapter experienced any temptation or tribulation, upon hearing blessed Francis speaking so sweetly and fervently, and on seeing his penance, they were freed from their temptations and were miraculously relieved of the tribulations. – We don’t reach salvation without crossing the stormy sea.

10

For, while suffering with them, he spoke to them, not as a judge, but as a merciful father to his children, or a good doctor to the sick, knowing how to be sick with the sick and afflicted with the afflicted. Nevertheless he duly rebuked all delinquents, and restrained the obstinate and rebellious with an appropriate punishment. – Beneath the cross one learns to love.

11

When a chapter had ended, he would bless all the brothers and assign each of them to individual provinces. To anyone possessing the Spirit of God and eloquence suitable for preaching, whether cleric or lay, he gave permission to preach. When those men received his blessing with great joy of spirit, they went throughout the world as pilgrims and strangers, taking nothing on their way except the books in which they could say their Hours. –  The best way to avoid falling is to lean on the cross of Jesus.

12

Whenever they found a priest, rich or poor, good or bad, bowing humbly they paid him their respect. When it was time to seek lodging, they more willingly stayed with priests rather than with seculars. When they were unable to stay with priests, they would seek more spiritual and God-fearing persons with whom they could more suitably be welcomed. After this, in each city and town that the brothers wanted to visit, the Lord inspired some God-fearing people to offer them hospitality, until some places were built for them in cities and towns. – The Lord loads us and sets us free from our load.

13

The Lord gave them the word and the spirit, according to need of the time, to speak with most incisive words, penetrating the hearts of the young—as well as the elderly—who, abandoning fathers and mothers and all they had, followed the brothers, by putting on the habit of religion. Then, indeed, a sword of separation was sent to the earth, when the young came to religion. – By bearing the weight of the cross we are relieved of it.

14

Those whom they received to the Order they led to blessed Francis,  that they might receive from him the habit of religion with humility and dedication. Not only were men converted to the Order; but also many virgins and widows, struck by their preaching, on their advice secluded themselves in cities and towns in monasteries established for doing penance. – Convince yourself that you belong to Jesus 

15

One of the brothers was appointed their visitator and corrector. Similarly, both married men and women given in marriage, unable to separate because of the law of matrimony, committed themselves to more severe penance in their own homes on the wholesome advice of the brothers. And thus, through blessed Francis, a perfect worshipper of the Holy Trinity, the Church of God was renewed in three orders, just as the earlier repair of the three churches foreshadowed. Each one of these orders was in its time approved by the Supreme Pontiff. –  Belong to Jesus and any storm satan blows against you cannot harm you at all.

Chapter XV 

THE DEATH OF LORD JOHN, 

THE FIRST PROTECTOR OF THE ORDER 

AND HOW THE LORD HUGOLINO OF OSTIA 

ASSUMED THE ROLE OF FATHER AND PROTECTOR OF THE ORDER 

16

The venerable father, the Lord Cardinal John of Saint Paul, that cardinal who more frequently offered counsel and protection to blessed Francis, commended the life and accomplishments of the saint and his brothers to the other cardinals. Their minds were moved to love the man of God with his brothers, so that each one of them wanted to have brothers in his own household, not for any service they might provide, but because of their holiness and the dedication with which they burned for them. – Trust in God and don’t fear the storms because your spirit will never be submerged.

17

After the Lord Cardinal John of Saint Paul had died, the Lord inspired one of the cardinals, Hugolino, at that time the bishop of Ostia, to cherish, protect, and support Francis and his brothers. With burning intensity, he held them in awe as if he were the father of them all. What is more, more than the love of a carnal father reaching out naturally to his own sons, the love of this man overflowed spiritually on the man of God and his brothers, loving and supporting them in the Lord. – Jesus is more powerful than all of hell. 

18

The man of God heard of this man’s glorious reputation, for among the cardinals he was famous, and with his brothers approached him. Receiving them with joy, he told them: “I am offering you myself for advice, assistance and protection, ready to give myself according to your good pleasure. I only ask that, for God’s sake, you have me remembered in your prayers.” Then blessed Francis, thanking God, told that lord cardinal: “My lord, I gladly want to have you as the father and protector of our religion, and I want all my brothers to have you always remembered in their prayers.” – This present life is given to us to acquire the eternal. 

19

Then blessed Francis asked him to be present at the chapter of the brothers at Pentecost. He immediately agreed graciously, and, from then on, was present every year at their chapter. When he came to the chapter, all the brothers who had gathered at the chapter would go in procession to meet him. As they were approaching, he would dismount from his horse and go on foot with them to the church of Saint Mary. Afterward he preached to them and celebrated Mass, during which the man of God, Francis, would chant the Gospel. – It is God who calls us to himself and it is he who watches our journey. 

Chapter XVI 

THE ELECTION OF THE FIRST MINISTERS 

AND HOW THEY WERE SENT THROUGHOUT THE WORLD 

20

Eleven years after the founding of the religion when the brothers had increased in number and merit, ministers were chosen and sent with some of the brothers throughout nearly the entire world in which the Catholic faith was practiced and observed. They were received in some of the provinces, but were not permitted to build houses. On the other hand, they were expelled from others for fear they might be non-believers, because, although the Lord Pope Innocent III had approved the Order and the Rule, nonetheless, he did not confirm this by letter, and the brothers, therefore, suffered many adversities from clerics and lay people. – God will never permit anything to happen to us that is not for our greater good. 

21

When this had been made known to the Lord Cardinal, he called blessed Francis to him and took him to the Lord Pope Honorius. He had another rule—composed by blessed Francis as he was taught by Christ—confirmed by the same Lord Honorius with a seal solemnly affixed. In this rule, the time between the chapters was prolonged to avoid hardship for the brothers living in remote areas. – Don’t philosophize on your defects.

22

Blessed Francis proposed to ask the Lord Pope Honorius, therefore, that one of the cardinals of the Roman Church be a sort of pope of his Order, that is, the Lord of Ostia, to whom the brothers could have recourse in their dealings. For blessed Francis had had a vision which led him to ask for the cardinal, and to entrust the Order to the Roman Church. – Don’t let little imperfections discourage you.

23

He saw a hen that was small and black, with feathered legs and the feet of a domestic dove. It had so many chicks that it was unable to gather them all under its wings, and so they wandered all around her in circles. Waking from sleep, he began to think about this vision and, immediately, he perceived by means of the Holy Spirit that that hen symbolized him. – Try to be always watchful in order to avoid sin.

24

“I am that hen,” he said, “short in stature, and dark by nature. I must be simple like a dove, flying up to heaven with the feathered strokes of virtue. The Lord in his mercy has given, and will give me, many sons whom I will be unable to protect with my own strength. I must, therefore, commend them to the holy Church who will protect and guide them under the shadow of her wings.” – When you see you fail in some way, don’t become lost in useless complaining

25

A few years after this vision, he came to Rome and visited the Lord of Ostia who obliged blessed Francis to go with him to the Curia the following morning. He wanted him to preach before the Lord Pope and the cardinals, and to commend his religion to them with devotion and eagerness. Although blessed Francis excused himself, claiming he was simple and stupid, he nevertheless had to accompany that man to the Curia. – Be embarrassed at your moments of infidelity, and humbly ask pardon of the Lord.

26

When blessed Francis presented himself before the Lord Pope and the cardinals, they saw him with boundless joy. Getting up, he preached to them, prepared only by the Holy Spirit’s anointing. After he finished speaking, he commended his religion to the Lord Pope and to all the cardinals. The Lord Pope and lord cardinals had been greatly edified by his preaching, and their hearts were moved to a more burning love of the religion. – When you fall, propose to be more watchful and then get up immediately and carry on.

27

Afterwards blessed Francis told the Supreme Pontiff: “Lord, I am suffering with you over the worry and continuing labor with which you must watch over God’s Church, and I am greatly ashamed that you must have such solicitude and care for us lesser brothers. For, since many nobles, rich people, as well as many religious, are unable to come to you, we, who are surely poor and looked down upon by some religious, must have great fear and shame not only to have access to you, but even to stand at your door and to presume to knock at the tabernacle of Christian virtue. – Walk with simplicity in the ways of the Lord.

28

Therefore, I humbly and resolutely beg your Holiness to give us the Lord of Ostia as pope, so that, at a time of need, the brothers may have recourse to him, always saving your pre-eminent dignity.” The Lord Pope was pleased with the petition, and he granted blessed Francis that Lord of Ostia, appointing him a most fitting protector of his religion. With the mandate of the Lord Pope, as a good protector, he extended his influence to protect the brothers, writing to many prelates who were persecuting the brothers. He did this so that they would no longer oppose them, but would rather give them advice and assistance in preaching and living in their provinces, as good and holy religious approved by the authority of the Apostolic See. – Hate your faults, but with a quiet hate, not troublesome and restless. 

29

Many other cardinals likewise sent their own letters for the same reason. In the following chapter, after blessed Francis gave the ministers permission to receive brothers into the Order, he sent them to those provinces, carrying the letters of the cardinals as well as the Rule confirmed by the apostolic seal. Once the prelates saw all of these, and recognized the endorsements shown by the brothers, they permitted the brothers to build, live, and preach in their provinces. And after the brothers lived and preached in this way in those provinces, many people, seeing their humble and holy way of life, and hearing their very pleasant words, moving and inflaming minds to love of God and to doing penance, they came to them and humbly accepted the habit of holy religion. –  Walk with simplicity in the ways of the Lord and do not torment your spirit.

30

Seeing the trust and love that the Lord of Ostia had for the brothers, blessed Francis loved him most affectionately from the depths of his heart. And because he knew, through an earlier revelation of God, that he would be the future Supreme Pontiff, he predicted this in the letters he wrote to him, calling him the father of the whole world. For he wrote to him in this manner: “To the venerable father of the whole world in Christ …” – Be patient with your faults and gain from them through holy humility.

31

Shortly afterwards, after the death of the Lord Pope Honorius III, that Lord of Ostia was elected the Supreme Pontiff, named Pope Gregory IX, who, until the end of his life was a remarkable benefactor and protector of the brothers as well as of other religious, and above all, of Christ’s poor. For this reason, he is believed to be numbered deservedly in the gathering of the saints.- How can anyone be anything but happy and at peace when Jesus is with them? 

 

February 2021 Thoughts for the Day by Father Francis Sariego, OFM Cap

February 2021 

 

Lord, just as I believe that at an earlier time 

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

so now I realize that, because of Your abundant mercy 

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

Give glory to Your name, 

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

to the whole Christian people. 

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

not to consider our ingratitude. 

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

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

Amen. 

 

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

 Chapter XII 

HOW BLESSED FRANCIS WITH HIS ELEVEN COMPANIONS WENT TO THE PAPAL CURIA 

THAT HE MIGHT INFORM HIM OF THEIR PROPOSAL 

AND HAVE THE RULE THAT HE HAD WRITTEN CONFIRMED 

 

Seeing that the Lord would increase his brothers in number and merit, since there were already twelve most perfect men expressing the same belief, blessed Francis said to the eleven, he being the twelfth, their leader and father: “Brothers, I see that the Lord mercifully wants to increase our congregation. Then, going to our mother, the holy Roman Church, let us inform the Supreme Pontiff what the Lord has begun to do through us, that, with his will and command, we may continue doing what we have undertaken.” – Time heals what reason cannot 

And since the proposal of their father pleased the other brothers, and they had embarked together with him on the journey to the Curia, he said to them: “Let us make one of us our leader and consider that man a kind of vicar of Jesus Christ, so that wherever he wants to go, we will go, and whenever he wants to rest, we will rest.” – It is magnificent to grow old if one keeps young. 

And they chose Brother Bernard, the first after blessed Francis, and, as the father said, they served him. They, then, made their way rejoicing and spoke about the words of the Lord, not daring to say anything except for the praise and glory of God and the benefit of the soul, and they frequently spent time in prayer. – Time cries out to each one, ‘Advance’

When they arrived in Rome and found the bishop of the city of Assisi there, they were received with immense joy, for he honored blessed Francis and all the brothers with special affection. Not knowing the reason for their arrival, he began to be apprehensive, fearing that they might want to leave their native land, where the Lord had begun to do marvelous things through them. – Take time to laugh; it is the music of the soul

For he rejoiced to have in his diocese such men whose life and conduct he greatly appreciated. After he learned their purpose and understood their plan, however, he was overjoyed and promised them his counsel and help. – My worth to God in public is what I am in private. 

During the few days they were staying with that man, they so edified him with their holy words and example, that, seeing what he had heard about them to shine in deed, he commended himself humbly and devoutly to their prayers. He even asked them, as a special grace, to be considered one of their brothers. – Never consider anything of worth that makes you break your word or lose your self-respect

Then asking blessed Francis the reason why he came and hearing from him their entire proposal and intention, he offered to be their procurator at the Curia. That cardinal then went to the Curia and told the Lord Pope Innocent III: “I found a most perfect man, who wishes to live according to the form of the holy Gospel, and to observe evangelical perfection in all things. I believe that the Lord wills, through him, to reform the faith of the holy Church throughout the world.” Hearing this, the lord pope was greatly amazed and had the cardinal bring blessed Francis to him. – Power is never good unless the one who uses it is good

On the following day, therefore, the man of God was presented by that cardinal to the pope, to whom he revealed his entire holy proposal. The pope, a man of extraordinary discernment, in due fashion assented to Francis’s request, and encouraged him and his brothers in many ways. He blessed them saying: “Go with the Lord, brothers, and as He will see fit to inspire you, preach penance to everyone. When almighty God increases you in number and grace, come back to us. We will grant you more, and entrust you with a greater charge.” – You are not bound to win, but you are bound to be true

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

10 

The pope saw that their constancy of faith and the anchor of their hope were so firmly grounded in Christ, that they did not want to be shaken from their enthusiasm. So he said to blessed Francis: “My son, go and pray that God will reveal to you whether what you ask  

Proceeds from His will. – Great works are performed not by strength but by perseverance.  

11 

Once God’s saint had prayed, as the Lord Pope suggested, the Lord spoke figuratively to him in spirit: “There was a little, poor and beautiful woman in a desert, whose beauty fascinated a great king…“My lord,” he said, “I am that little poor woman whom the loving Lord, in His mercy, has adorned, and through whom He has been pleased to give birth to legitimate sons. The King of kings had told me that He will nourish all the sons born to me, because, if He feeds strangers, He must provide for His own. For if God gives temporal goods to sinful men out of love for providing for His children, how much more will He give to Gospel men who deserve these things out of merit.” – Never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense

12 

On hearing this, the pope was greatly amazed, especially since, before blessed Francis’s arrival, he had seen in a vision the church of Saint John Lateran threatening to collapse, and a religious, small and of shabby appearance, supporting it on his own shoulders. – Perseverance is not a long race; it is many short races one after another

13 

A few days later, blessed Francis came to him, made known his proposal, as we have said, and asked him to confirm the rule he had written in simple words, using the words of the holy Gospel, for whose perfection he fully longed. As he was reflecting on how enthusiastic blessed Francis was in God’s service, and comparing his vision with that shown to the man of God, he began to say to himself: “This is indeed that holy and religious man through whom the church of God will be sustained and supported.” – Real unselfishness consists in sharing the interests of others

14 

So he embraced him and approved the rule he had written. He also gave him and his brothers’ permission to preach penance everywhere, with the stipulation that the brothers who preach obtain permission from blessed Francis. Afterwards he approved this in a consistory. – The most satisfying thing in life is to have been able to give a large part of oneself to others. 

15 

Therefore, after obtaining these favors, blessed Francis thanked God, and on bended knees, promised obedience and reverence to the Lord Pope humbly and devoutly. The other brothers, in accordance with the precept of the Lord Pope, promised obedience and reverence to blessed Francis in a similar way. After receiving a blessing from the Supreme Pontiff and visiting the tombs of the Apostles, blessed Francis and the other eleven brothers were given the tonsure, as the lord cardinal had arranged, wanting all twelve of them to be clerics.- When you give of yourself you truly give

16 

 As he was leaving the City, the man of God, with his brothers, set out into the world, greatly surprised at how easily his desire had been granted. He was growing each day in the hope and trust of the Savior, who had earlier shown him by holy revelations what was to happen. – Light, even though it passes through pollution, is not polluted

 

Chapter XIII 

HE EFFICACIOUS PREACHING OF BLESSED FRANCIS 

AND THE FIRST PLACE HE HAD HOW THE BROTHERS STAYED THERE AND HOW THEY LEFT 

17 

From then on, blessed Francis, going around the cities and villages, began to preach more widely and more perfectly proclaiming the kingdom of God with confidence, not in the persuasive words of human wisdom, but in the learning and power of the Holy Spirit. – When you walk towards the light, the shadow of your burdens falls behind you. 

18 

Strengthened by apostolic authority, he was a forthright preacher of truth, not using fawning words or seductive flattery, because he first convinced himself by action and then convinced others by word, so that he spoke the truth with the greatest fidelity. Even a very great number of learned and well-educated people marveled at his power and truth, which no human had taught, and they hurried to see and hear him as if he were a person of another age. – The one who is poor in spirit has realized that God means everything

19 

Drawn by divine inspiration, many people, well-born and lowly, cleric and lay, began to cling to blessed Francis’s footsteps, and, after they had abandoned the concerns and vanity of this world, to live under his discipline. – Being poor in spirit means freedom

20 

The blessed father with his sons were staying in a place near Assisi called Rivo Torto where there was a hut abandoned by all. The place was so cramped that they could barely sit or rest. Very often for lack of bread, their only food was the turnips that they begged in their need, here and there. The man of God would write the names of the brothers on the beams of that hut, so that anyone wishing to rest or pray would know his place, and so that any unusual noise would not disturb the mind’s silence in such small and close quarters. – Poverty of spirit is an attitude of dependence on God and detachment from earthly supports. 

21 

One day while the brothers were staying in that place, a peasant came with his donkey, wanting to stay in that hut with it. And so that he would not be driven away by the brothers, on walking into the hut, he said to his donkey: “Go in, go in, because we will do well in this place.” – It is good to make sure once in a while that you haven’t lost the things that money can’t buy

22 

When the holy father heard the peasant’s words and realized his intention, he was annoyed at him, most of all because he made quite an uproar with his donkey, disturbing all the brothers who were then immersed in silence and prayer. Then the man of God said to his brothers: “I know, brothers, that God did not call us to prepare a lodging for a donkey, nor to have dealings with men. While we are preaching the way of salvation to people and are giving them wise counsel, we should dedicate ourselves most of all to prayer and thanksgiving.” –  He is not poor who has little but desires much

23 

They left that hut for the use of poor lepers, moving to a small dwelling near Saint Mary of the Portiuncula where they stayed from time to time before acquiring that church. – Example is the only thing that really influences others

24 

Afterwards blessed Francis, in accordance with God’s will and inspiration, obtained it from the abbot of the monastery of Saint Benedict on Mount Subasio near Assisi. – People seldom improve when they have no other model than themselves to copy

25 

The saint, in a special and affectionate way, commended this place to the general minister and to all the brothers, as the place loved by the glorious Virgin more than any other place or church in this world. – Hope for the future is not in human inventions but in better human relations

26 

A vision one of the brothers had, while in the world, contributed much to the commendation and love of this place. Blessed Francis loved this brother with unique affection as long as he was with him, by showing him extraordinary affection. – Nothing is a greater impediment to being in good relations with others than being ill at ease with yourself

27 

This man, wanting to serve God—as he later did so faithfully in religion—saw in a vision that all the people of the world were blind and were kneeling in a circle around the church of Saint Mary of the Portiuncula with their hands joined and their faces raised to heaven. In a loud and sobbing voice, they were begging the Lord in his mercy to give them sight. – God made us not perfect but pilgrims in journey after perfection. 

28 

While they were praying, it seemed that a great light came from heaven and, resting on them, enlightened all of them with its wholesome radiance. On awakening, the man resolved to serve God more faithfully, and, shortly thereafter, leaving the world with its seductions, he entered religion where he persevered in the service of God with humility and dedication. – Ideals are like stars, we never reach them but we chart our course by them. 

 

Thoughts for the Day – January 2021 by Father Francis Sariego OFM Cap

January 2021 

He was named Jesus, the name given by the angel. (Luke 2:16-21)

Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We have come to do him homage. (Matthew 2:1-12)

Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized in the Jordan by John.  

A voice came from the heavens, “You are my beloved Son. With you I am well pleased.”  Mark 1: 7-11)

Behold, the Lamb of God. We have found the Messiah.(John 1: 235-42)

Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men. (Mark 1: 14-20)

 

We adore You, O Christ, and we bless you! … O Wisdom of God, you are our wisdom … O Root of Jesse, you are the vine and we are the branches … O Lord of lords, you are the newborn child … O Key of David, you are the key to the gates of heaven … O Dayspring, you are the light of the world … O Ruler of the world, you are the Lord of lords … O Emmanuel, you are God-with-us … May all the world rejoice in your coming and live in your Light and Love.

Following excerpts from Legend of Three Companions / Daily meditations from various sources 

Chapter XII

HOW BLESSED FRANCIS WITH HIS ELEVEN COMPANIONS WENT TO THE PAPAL CURIA

THAT HE MIGHT INFORM HIM OF THEIR PROPOSAL

AND HAVE THE RULE THAT HE HAD WRITTEN CONFIRMED

1

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

2

And since the proposal of their father pleased the other brothers, and they had embarked together with him on the journey to the Curia, he said to them: “Let us make one of us our leader and consider that man a kind of vicar of Jesus Christ, so that wherever he wants to go, we will go, and whenever he wants to rest, we will rest.” – May Jesus comfort and bless you. Dispel childish fears.

3

And they chose Brother Bernard, the first after blessed Francis, and, as the father said, they served him. They, then, made their way rejoicing and spoke about the words of the Lord, not daring to say anything except for the praise and glory of God and the benefit of the soul, and they frequently spent time in prayer. The Lord, on the other hand, prepared lodging for them, doing what was necessary to minister to them.- May the Infant Jesus bless, comfort, reward you for what you bear for love of Him.

4

When they arrived in Rome and found the bishop of the city of Assisi there, they were received with immense joy, for he honored blessed Francis and all the brothers with special affection. Not knowing the reason for their arrival, he began to be apprehensive, fearing that they might want to leave their native land, where the Lord had begun to do marvelous things through them. For he rejoiced to have in his diocese such men whose life and conduct he greatly appreciated.- Let trials be great. The One Who permits them to you is greater and more provident.

5

After he learned their purpose and understood their plan, however, he was overjoyed and promised them his counsel and help. The bishop was known to the cardinal bishop of Sabina, named Lord John of Saint Paul, a man truly full of God’s grace, who loved, in particular, servants of God. The bishop of Assisi made the life of blessed Francis and his brothers clear to him. On this account, he was eager to meet the man of God and some of his brothers. Hearing that they were in the City, he sent for those men and welcomed them with great reverence and love.– Religion is the academy of perfection.

6

During the few days they were staying with that man, they so edified him with their holy words and example, that, seeing what he had heard about them to shine in deed, he commended himself humbly and devoutly to their prayers. He even asked them, as a special grace, to be considered one of their brothers. – The soul must learn to allow itself to be smoothed by the divine Spirit.

7

Then asking blessed Francis the reason why he came and hearing from him their entire proposal and intention, he offered to be their procurator at the Curia. That cardinal then went to the Curia and told the Lord Pope Innocent III: “I found a most perfect man, who wishes to live according to the form of the holy Gospel, and to observe evangelical perfection in all things. I believe that the Lord wills, through him, to reform the faith of the holy Church throughout the world.” Hearing this, the lord pope was greatly amazed and had the cardinal bring blessed Francis to him. – Make positive acts of love for God and confidence in His goodness.

8

On the following day, therefore, the man of God was presented by that cardinal to the pope, to whom he revealed his entire holy proposal. The pope, a man of extraordinary discernment, in due fashion assented to Francis’s request, and encouraged him and his brothers in many ways. He blessed them saying: “Go with the Lord, brothers, and as He will see fit to inspire you, preach penance to everyone. When almighty God increases you in number and grace, come back to us. We will grant you more, and entrust you with a greater charge.” – Take heart and do not fear. Jesus is with you.

9

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

10

So he said to blessed Francis: “My son, go and pray that God will reveal to you whether what you ask proceeds from His will. In this way, knowing the Lord’s will, we may accede to your desires.” Once God’s saint had prayed, as the Lord Pope suggested, the Lord spoke figuratively to him in spirit (relating the story of the poor and beautiful woman with many sons) – Courage, for the Lord is closer to you than ever before.

11

After he completed his prayer, he presented himself to the Supreme Pontiff and narrated point-by-point the story that the Lord had revealed to him. “My lord,” he said, “I am that little poor woman whom the loving Lord, in His mercy, has adorned, and through whom He has been pleased to give birth to legitimate sons. The King of kings had told me that He will nourish all the sons born to me, because, if He feeds strangers, He must provide for His own. For if God gives temporal goods to sinful men out of love for providing for His children, how much more will He give to Gospel men who deserve these things out of merit.” – Arm yourself with the beautiful virtue of trust in the Lord.

12

On hearing this, the pope was greatly amazed, especially since, before blessed Francis’s arrival, he had seen in a vision the church of Saint John Lateran threatening to collapse, and a religious, small and of shabby appearance, supporting it on his own shoulders. When he awoke, stunned and shaken, as a discerning and wise man He pondered what this vision meant to tell him.- Take heed of the assurances which God gives you.

13

A few days later, blessed Francis came to him, made known his proposal, as we have said, and asked him to confirm the rule he had written in simple words, using the words of the holy Gospel, for whose perfection he fully longed. As he was reflecting on how enthusiastic blessed Francis was in God’s service, and comparing his vision with that shown to the man of God, he began to say to himself: “This is indeed that holy and religious man through whom the church of God will be sustained and supported.” – Praise be Jesus who is Master of your heart, and will never cease to console you.

14

So he embraced him and approved the rule he had written. He also gave him and his brothers permission to preach penance everywhere, with the stipulation that the brothers who preach obtain permission from blessed Francis. Afterwards he approved this in a consistory. Therefore, after obtaining these favors, blessed Francis thanked God, and on bended knees, promised obedience and reverence to the Lord Pope humbly and devoutly. The other brothers, in accordance with the precept of the Lord Pope, promised obedience and reverence to blessed Francis in a similar way. – What a consolation it is to know almost with certainty that one possesses Jesus.

15

After receiving a blessing from the Supreme Pontiff and visiting the tombs of the Apostles, blessed Francis and the other eleven brothers were given the tonsure. With his brothers, (Francis) set out into the world, greatly growing each day in the hope and trust of the Savior. – Our justification by God is so enormous that sacred Scripture compares it  to the resurrection of Jesus.

 

Chapter XIII

THE EFFICACIOUS PREACHING OF BLESSED FRANCIS

AND THE FIRST PLACE HE HAD

HOW THE BROTHERS STAYED THERE AND HOW THEY LEFT

 

16

From then on, blessed Francis, going around the cities and villages, began to preach more widely and more perfectly proclaiming the kingdom of God with confidence, not in the persuasive words of human wisdom, but in the learning and power of the Holy Spirit. Strengthened by apostolic authority, he was a forthright preacher of truth, not using fawning words or seductive flattery, because he first convinced himself by action and then convinced others by word, so that he spoke the truth with the greatest fidelity. – God revealed His power more fully in our justification than in making heaven and earth from nothing.

17

Even a very great number of learned and well-educated people marveled at his power and truth, which no human had taught, and they hurried to see and hear him as if he were a person of another age. Drawn by divine inspiration, many people, well-born and lowly, cleric and lay, began to cling to blessed Francis’s footsteps, and, after they had abandoned the concerns and vanity of this world, to live under his discipline. – Non-existence has no power to resist God’s will, while the sinner is capable of resisting all of God’s wishes.

18

The blessed father with his sons were staying in a place near Assisi called Rivo Torto where there was a hut abandoned by all. The place was so cramped that they could barely sit or rest. Very often for lack of bread, their only food was the turnips that they begged in their need, here and there. – God’s grace has raised us to be nothing less than His own children.

19

The man of God would write the names of the brothers on the beams of that hut, so that anyone wishing to rest or pray would know his place, and so that any unusual noise would not disturb the mind’s silence in such small and close quarters. – God’s children are destined to reign with His Son for all eternity.

20

One day while the brothers were staying in that place, a peasant came with his donkey, wanting to stay in that hut with it. And so that he would not be driven away by the brothers, on walking into the hut, he said to his donkey: “Go in, go in, because we will do well in this place.” – The struggle can be harsh and the blow painful, but your gaze fixed on high.

21

Then the man of God said to his brothers: “I know, brothers, that God did not call us to prepare a lodging for a donkey, nor to have dealings with men. While we are preaching the way of salvation to people and are giving them wise counsel, we should dedicate ourselves most of all to prayer and thanksgiving.” – Take heart, Jesus makes you hear the same He allowed St. Paul to hear.

22

They left that hut for the use of poor lepers, moving to a small dwelling near Saint Mary of the Portiuncula where they stayed from time to time before acquiring that church. – Fight valiantly and you will receive the reward of strong souls.

23

Afterwards blessed Francis, in accordance with God’s will and inspiration, obtained it from the abbot of the monastery of Saint Benedict on Mount Subasio near Assisi. The saint, in a special and affectionate way, commended this place to the general minister and to all the brothers, as the place loved by the glorious Virgin more than any other place or church in this world. – Never abandon yourself to yourself.

24

A vision one of the brothers had, while in the world, contributed much to the commendation and love of this place. Blessed Francis loved this brother with unique affection as long as he was with him, by showing him extraordinary affection. – In times of great struggle and prostration turn to prayer and trust in God.

25

This man, wanting to serve God—as he later did so faithfully in religion—saw in a vision that all the people of the world were blind and were kneeling in a circle around the church of Saint Mary of the Portiuncula with their hands joined and their faces raised to heaven.- You will never be overcome by temptation if you turn to God in trust.

26

In a loud and sobbing voice, they were begging the Lord in his mercy to give them sight. While they were praying, it seemed that a great light came from heaven and, resting on them, enlightened all of them with its wholesome radiance. On awakening, the man resolved to serve God more faithfully, and, shortly thereafter, leaving the world with its seductions, he entered religion where he persevered in the service of God with humility and dedication. – The Lord will not permit any struggle to affect you that is beyond your strength.

 

Chapter XIV

THE CHAPTER THAT WAS HELD TWICE A YEAR AT

SAINT MARY OF THE PORTIUNCULA

 

27

After blessed Francis had obtained that place of Saint Mary from the abbot of Saint Benedict, he ordered that a chapter be held. At Pentecost, all the brothers used to gather at the church of Saint Mary and discuss how they could better observe the Rule. They appointed brothers throughout the various provinces who would preach to the people, and assigned other brothers in their provinces. – If you are despised by the world, enjoy it.

28

Saint Francis, however, used to give admonitions, corrections, and directives as it seemed to him to be according to the Lord’s counsel. Everything that he said to them in word, however, he would show them in deed with eagerness and affection. He used to revere prelates and priests of the holy Church, and honored the elderly, the noble, and the wealthy. Moreover, he intimately loved the poor, suffering deeply with them, and he showed himself subject to all. – In any privation, temptation, and trial, raise your eyes on high and redouble your courage.

29

Although he was more elevated than all the brothers, he still appointed one of the brothers staying with him as his guardian and master. He zealously used to admonish the brothers to observe the holy Gospel and the Rule which they had firmly promised; and particularly to be reverent and devoted about divine services and ecclesiastical regulations, hearing Mass devotedly, and adoring the Body of the Lord even more devotedly. – The Lord is with you, and there is no reason to fear.

30

He wanted priests who handle the tremendous and greatest sacraments to be honored uniquely by the brothers…He also admonished the brothers not to judge anyone, nor to look down upon those who live with refinement and dress extravagantly or fashionably. For, he would say, their God is ours, the Lord Who is capable of calling them to Himself and justifying those called. He also used to tell them he wanted the brothers to show reverence to these people as their brothers and lords. They are brothers, because we were all created by one Creator. – Place your desire for the world in the hands of heavenly Providence.

31

“The brothers’ way of life among the people should be such that whoever hears or sees them glorifies and praises the heavenly Father with dedication.” He used to tell them: “As you announce peace with your mouth, make sure that greater peace is in your hearts. Let no one be provoked to anger or scandal through you, but may everyone be drawn to peace, kindness, and harmony through your gentleness. For we have been called to this: to heal the wounded, bind up the broken, and recall the erring. In fact, many who seem to us to be members of the devil will yet be disciples of Christ.” – Maintain a tranquil heart amidst your multiple concerns.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thoughts for the Day by Father Francis Sariego, OFM Cap November 2020

November 2020

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)

 

Following are excerpts taken from The Legend of the Three Companions 

 

Chapter X 

HOW HE PREDICTED TO HIS SIX COMPANIONS ALL THAT WOULD HAPPEN TO THEM 

ON THEIR JOURNEYS THROUGHOUT THE WORLD EXHORTING THEM TO PENANCE 

1

Calling together the six brothers, Saint Francis, since he was full of the grace of the Holy Spirit, predicted to them what was about to happen. “Dearest brothers,” he said, “let us consider our vocation, to which God has mercifully called us, not only for our own good, but for the salvation of many. – With your very wounds God will heal you.

2

We are to go throughout the world, encouraging everyone, more by deed than by word, to do penance for their sins and to recall the commandments of God. – All we have seen teaches us to trust the creator for all we have not seen.

3

Do not be afraid that you seem few and uneducated. With confidence, simply proclaim penance, trusting in the Lord, who conquered the world. Because by his Spirit, He is speaking through and in you, encouraging everyone to be converted to him and to observe his commandments. – Give me faith, Lord, and let me help others find it.

4

You will find some faithful people, meek and kind, who will receive you and your words with joy. You will find many others, faithless, proud, and blasphemous, who will resist and reject you and what you say. Therefore, resolve in your hearts to bear these things with patience and humility. – Turn to the Lord and pray for He is always near.

5

When the brothers heard this, they began to be afraid. The saint told them: “Do not fear, because after not much time many learned and noble men will come to us, and will be with us preaching to kings and rulers and great crowds. Many people will be converted to the Lord, Who will multiply and increase His family throughout the entire world.” – Never fear shadows. They simply mean there’s light shining somewhere nearby.

6

And when he had said these things and blessed them, the men of God went on their way devoutly observing his warnings. Whenever they came upon a church or a cross, they bowed in prayer and said with devotion: “We adore you, Christ, and we bless you in all your churches throughout the whole world, because, by your holy cross, you have redeemed the world.” – May the Lord teach us to be generous and serve Him as He deserves.

7

For they believed they would find a place of God wherever they found a cross or a church. Those who saw them, however, were greatly amazed that they differed from all others by their habit and life and seemed almost like wild men. – Give and don’t count the cost. Labor without seeking a reward except to know you are doing God’s will. 

8

In fact, whenever they entered especially a city, estate, town, or home, they announced peace, encouraging everyone to fear and love the Creator of heaven and earth and to observe the commandments. – A sure way to God is a humble knowledge of yourself than a search for learning.

9

Some people listened to them willingly; others, on the other hand, mocked them; and many tired them out with questions by saying to them: “Where do you come from?” Others wanted to know which was their Order. Although it was tiresome answering so many questions, they responded simply that they were penitents originally from the city of Assisi. – If we saw ourselves as our friends and other people see us, we would need an introduction.

10

At that time their religion was not yet called an order. In fact, many judged them impostors or fools, and were unwilling to receive them into their homes lest, as thieves, they might slyly take their belongings. – Under the false, overloaded, glittering masquerade, there is in every person a noble nature.

11

Therefore, in many places, after they had suffered a number of insults, they sought lodging in the porticos of churches and homes. About this time, there were two of them in Florence, unable to find lodging as they were begging throughout the city. – It isn’t a calamity to die with dreams unfulfilled, but it is a calamity not to dream.

12

came upon a house having a portico and, in the portico, a bread-oven, they told each other: “We can stay here.” Therefore, asking the lady of the house to accept them into her home and having her make an excuse, they humbly said that she at least might let them spend that night near the oven. – In the twilight of life, God will not judge us on our earthly possessions and human successes, but on how well we have loved.

13

She allowed them to do this. When her husband came and found them in the portico, he called his wife and told her: “Why did you offer lodging to those two scoundrels in our portico?” She answered that she did not want them inside the house, but she did let them stay outside in the portico where they could steal nothing but firewood. – It is better to be patient than powerful. 

14

Considering them scoundrels and thieves, he was opposed to giving them any kind of shelter, although the weather was bitterly cold. That night, they rested near the oven in a sound sleep, warmed only by the glow of divine love and covered with the blanket of Lady Poverty. In the morning they went to the nearest church to hear the office of matins. – It is better to win control over yourself than over whole cities.

15

When morning came, the woman went to the same church and, seeing those brothers devoutly steadfast in prayer, she said to herself: “If these men were scoundrels and thieves, as my husband claimed, they would not be persevering in prayer so reverently.” While she was thinking these things, a man, named Guido, was distributing alms to the poor who were in the church. When he came to the brothers and wanted to give money to each one of them, as he had done to the others, they refused the money and did not want to accept it. – Thank God for the handicaps of life that help you find yourself, your work, and your God.

16

But he said to them: “Since you are poor, why don’t you accept the coins like the others?” Brother Bernard answered: “While it is true that we are poor, poverty is not burdensome for us as it is for other poor people. For, by the grace of God, we have willingly made ourselves poor. It is His counsel we fulfilled.” – Things turn out best for the people who make the best of the things that turn out.

17

Astonished at these things and asking if they had ever possessed anything, he heard from them that they had indeed possessed much. For the love of God, though, they had given everything to the poor. – Big shots are only little shots who keep shooting.

18

The one who answered in this way was Brother Bernard, the first disciple of blessed Francis, whom today we truly believe to be a most holy father. He was the first to run after the holy one of God, embracing the delegation of peace and penance. –  Happy are those who are not sad for what they do not have, but are grateful for what they do have.

19

Selling everything he possessed and giving to the poor, according to the counsel of Gospel perfection, he persevered to the end in most holy poverty. When that woman reflected that the brothers did not want the coins, she approached them and told them that she would gladly receive them into her home if they wanted lodging there. – Each is given a bag of tools, a shapeless mass, a book of rules. Each must make in life either a stumbling block or a stepping stone.

20

The brothers answered humbly: “May the Lord reward you for your good will.” That man, however, hearing that the brothers were unable to find lodging, took them to his house, saying: “Look, this is the lodging the Lord has prepared for you. Stay in it according to your pleasure.” – Our lives are songs. God writes the word and we set them to music at pleasure.  

21

Giving thanks to God, they stayed with him several days, edifying him in the fear of the Lord, more by example than by word. Afterwards, he gave much to the poor. – Make sure the things that you are living for is worth dying for.

22

Although they were treated kindly by that man, they were considered good-for-nothings, so that many, the small and the great, abused and harmed them, at times taking away from them even the cheapest clothing they had. – Nothing here below is profane for those who know how to see. On the contrary, everything is sacred.

23

Whenever the servants of God remained naked, because they wore only one tunic, according to the pattern of the Gospel, they did not demand back what had been taken from them. – You can’t turn back the clock, but you can wind it up again.

24

If some, moved by piety, did want to return what was taken from them, they willingly accepted. They did these and similar things to them, regarding them as so worthless that they brazenly afflicted them as they chose. – While it is well enough to leave footprints on the sands of time, it is even more important to make sure they point in a commendable direction. 

25

In addition, they endured immense hardship and suffering from hunger and thirst, from cold and nakedness. Suffering all these things steadfastly and patiently, as blessed Francis had admonished them, they did not become dejected or disturbed, nor did they curse those who brought evil upon them. – Times like these demand strong minds, great hearts, true faith, and ready hands!

26

On the contrary, as perfectly evangelical men, placed at a great advantage, they greatly exulted in the Lord, considering it pure joy when they fell into temptations and trials of this sort. – Earth is crammed with heaven.

27

According to the word of the Gospel, they prayed carefully and enthusiastically for their persecutors. – God’s presence is not discerned at the time it is upon us, but afterwards when we look back. 

 

Chapter XI 

THE RECEPTION OF FOUR OTHER BROTHERS AND THE MOST BURNING CHARITY THEY HAD 

FOR EACH OF THE FIRST BROTHERS, 

OF THEIR EAGERNESS IN WORKING AND PRAYING AND THEIR PERFECT OBEDIENCE 

28

People then saw that the brothers rejoiced in their tribulations, persisted in prayer with eagerness and devotion, neither accepted nor carried money, and possessed a great love for one another; and through this they were known to be really the Lord’s disciples. – God exists within us even more intimately than we exist in ourselves.

29

Many came to them with heartfelt sorrow, asking pardon for the offenses they had committed against them. – God is an unutterable sigh, lying in the depths of the heart. 

30

They forgave them from their hearts, saying: “May the Lord forgive you,” and encouraged them soundly about their eternal salvation. – The Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is God’s name.

 

 

 

 

October 2020, Thought for the Day by Father Francis Sariego, OFM Cap

October 2020

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) 

Following are excerpts taken from The Legend of the Three Companions 

Chpt. IX – HEARING AND UNDERSTANDING THE COUNSELS OF CHRIST IN THE GOSPEL, 

HE IMMEDIATELY CHANGED HIS EXTERNAL GARB 

AND PUT ON A NEW HABIT OF INTERNAL AND EXTERNAL PERFECTION 

While he was completing the church of San Damiano, blessed Francis wore the habit of a hermit: a staff in his hand, shoes on his feet, and a leather belt around his waist. Then, one day at Mass, he heard those things which Christ tells the disciples who were sent out to preach, instructing them to carry no gold or silver, a wallet or a purse, bread, walking stick, or shoes, or two tunics. – How well-protected is that soul whom God has protected beneath his wings

2  

After understanding this more clearly because of the priest, he was filled with indescribable joy. “This,” he said, “is what I want to do with all my strength.” – When the Lord works within you, you need do nothing except leave the door of your heart wide open. 

And so, after committing to memory everything he had heard, he joyfully fulfilled them, removed his second garment without delay, and from then on never used a walking stick, shoes, purse, or wallet. He made for himself a very cheap and plain tunic, and, throwing the belt away, he girded himself with a cord. – Let the Holy Spirit accomplishes what he wants in you. 

Applying all the care of his heart to observe the words of new grace as much as possible, he began, inspired by God, to be a messenger of evangelical perfection and, in simple words, to preach penance in public. – Abandon yourself to the Spirit of the Lord and do not be afraid. 

His words were neither hollow nor ridiculous, but filled with the power of the Holy Spirit, penetrating the marrow of the heart, so that listeners were turned to great amazement. – Lord anchor me to Yourself so that trials cannot defeat me. 

As he later testified, he learned a greeting of this sort by the Lord’s revelation: “May the Lord give you peace!” Therefore, in all his preaching, he greeted the people at the beginning of his sermon with a proclamation of peace. – Do not anticipate the problems of this life with apprehension but rather with perfect hope in God. 

It is certainly astonishing, if not miraculous, that this greeting of peace was used before his conversion by a precursor who frequently went through Assisi greeting the people with “Peace and good! Peace and good!”- Live tranquilly with God

It seems plausible that, as John heralded Christ but withdrew when Christ began his mission of preaching, so too, like another John, this man preceded Francis in using the greeting of peace, but disappeared when he appeared. Immediately, therefore, filled with the spirit of the prophets, the man of God, Francis, after that greeting, proclaimed peace. – Simply hold on tightly to the hand of divine providence. 

As both the truth of blessed Francis’s simple teaching as well as that of his life became known to many, two years after his conversion, some men began to be moved to do penance by his example and, leaving all things, they joined him in life and habit. – When you are unable to walk, God will lead you; do not worry

10 

The first of these was Brother Bernard of holy memory. He knew well how luxuriously blessed Francis had lived in the world; now he observed his constancy and zeal in the divine service, how, in particular, he was restoring dilapidated churches with a great deal of work, and what an austere life he was leading. – The Father who takes care of you today will do the same tomorrow and forever. 

11 

He planned wholeheartedly to give everything he possessed to the poor, and, with determination, to join him in life and garb. Therefore, one day approaching the man of God in secret, he disclosed his plan to him, and arranged to have him come that evening to his home. – Remove from your mind what upsets you, and say God, I trust in you. 

12 

Thanking God, for he did not then have a companion, blessed Francis was overjoyed, especially since Lord Bernard was a person of great stature. On the appointed evening, blessed Francis came to his house, his heart filled with great joy, and spent that whole night with him. – Face the present trials with trust in divine providence who permits them

13 

Among many things, Lord Bernard said to him: “If, for many years, someone holds on to the possessions, many or few, he has acquired from his lord, and no longer wishes to keep them, what is the better thing for him to do with them?” Blessed Francis answered that he must give back to the lord what was received from him. – Do not lose heart or become discouraged. Trust! 

14 

And Lord Bernard said: “Then, brother, I want to give away all my worldly goods for the love of my Lord who gave them to me, as it seems best to you.” – Fight valiantly and you will achieve the gift of strong souls. 

15 

The saint told him: “We will go to the church early in the morning and, through the book of the Gospels, we will learn how the Lord instructed his disciples.” Rising at daybreak, then, together with another man named Peter, who also wanted to become a brother, they went to the church of San Nicolò next to the piazza of the city of Assisi. – Remember the words of the Master: You have faith in God. Have faith also in me

16 

They entered for prayer, but, because they were simple, they did not know how to find the passage in the Gospel about renunciation. They prayed devoutly that the Lord would show them his will on opening the book the first time. – Jesus is with us who suffers with us and is for us

17 

At its first opening, the Lord’s counsel confronted them: If you wish to be perfect, go, sell everything you possess and give to the poor, and you will have a treasure in heaven. Blessed Francis was overjoyed when he read this passage and thanked God. But since he was a true worshiper of the Trinity, he desired it to be confirmed by a threefold affirmation. – Do not scatter seed in the garden of others but cultivate your own

18 

He opened the book a second and a third time. When he opened it up the second time he saw: Take nothing for your journey, etc., and at the third opening: If any man wishes to come after me, he must deny himself, etc. Each time he opened the book, blessed Francis thanked God for confirming his plan and the desire he had conceived earlier.- Do not desire to be anything but what you are. 

19 

 After the third divine confirmation was pointed out and explained, he said to those men, Bernard and Peter: “Brothers, this is our life and rule and that of all who will want to join our company. Go, therefore, and fulfill what you have heard.” – Concentrate on perfecting yourself

20 

Then Lord Bernard, who was very rich, after selling all he had and acquiring a large sum of money, went and distributed it all to the city’s poor.  Peter likewise followed the divine counsel according to his means. – Few live according to their duty and the will of the Lord. Say: Thy will be done in heaven, on earth, and in me

21 

After getting rid of everything, they both received the habit which the saint had adopted after he put aside the habit of a hermit; and, from that hour, they lived with him according to the form of the holy Gospel as the Lord had shown them.  This is why blessed Francis said in his Testament: “The Lord Himself revealed to me that I should live according to the form of the holy Gospel.” – Many start out on the path of perfection, but few arrive at the summit of the same perfection

 

Chpt. IX – THE VOCATION OF BROTHER SYLVESTER 

AND THE VISION HE HAD BEFORE ENTERING THE ORDER 

22 

As we have said, while Lord Bernard was giving all his possessions to the poor, blessed Francis was at his side assisting him, glorifying and praising the Lord in his heart, in awe at the astounding work of the Lord.A priest named Sylvester, from whom the blessed Francis had purchased stones for the repair of the church of San Damiano, came. Seeing so much money being given away on the man of God’s advice, he was consumed by a burning passion of greed, and said to him: “Francis, you did not completely pay me for the stones which you bought from me.” – Always have courage. 

23 

The scorner of greed, hearing him complaining unjustly, approached Lord Bernard, and putting his hand into his cloak where the money was, in great fervor of spirit, filled it with a handful of coins, and gave them to the disgruntled priest. He filled his hand with money a second time, and said to him: “Do you now have full payment, Lord Priest?” “I have it completely, brother,” he replied. Overjoyed, he returned home with his money. But after a few days that same priest, inspired by the Lord, began to reflect on these things blessed Francis had done, and he said to himself: “Am I not a miserable man? Old as I am, don’t I still covet and desire the things of this world? And this young man despises and scorns them all for the love of God!” – There is no remedy powerful than the Eucharist

24 

The following night he saw in a dream an immense cross. Its top reached to the heavens, its base rested fixed in the mouth of the blessed Francis, and its arms stretched from one part of the world to the other. When he woke, therefore, the priest understood and resolutely believed that Francis was indeed Christ’s friend and servant, and the religion which he founded would spread all over the world. – In the grips of spiritual difficulties run to the Lord in the Eucharist 

25 

From then on he began to fear God and to do penance in his own home. At last, after a little while, he entered the Order in which he lived excellently and ended gloriously. – Listen to the voice of the Lord speaking in your heart

26 

The man of God, Francis, accompanied by his two brothers, had no place to stay, so he moved with them to a poor little abandoned church, which was called Saint Mary of the Portiuncula. And there they built a little hut in which they would live from time to time. After a few days, an Assisian, named Giles, came to them and, on his knees, begged the man of God with great reverence and devotion to accept him into his company. – Jesus loves you. He wants you to belong totally to him. 

27 

When the man of God saw how unusually faithful and devout the man was, realizing that he was able to obtain great grace from God, as later became clear by his success, he received him with open arms. These four, united in immense happiness and the joy of the Holy Spirit, separated for greater spiritual advantage. – Do not let your soul dwell on anyone else but the Lord Jesus

28 

The saint told Brother Giles: “Our religion will be like a fisherman who casts his nets into the water catching a great number of fish, and, leaving the small ones in the water, he puts the large ones into his basket.” Thus he prophesied that the Order would expand. – Do not think of what you are unable to do, but rather, think of what you can do, and do it well

29 

After they had traveled around that province, they returned to the place called Saint Mary’s. After a few days had elapsed, however, three other men from Assisi, Sabbatino, Morico, and John de Capella, came to them, begging blessed Francis to receive them as brothers. He received them humbly and kindly. – Place everything in the hands of God

30 

The bishop of the city of Assisi, to whom the man of God would frequently go for counsel, receiving him kindly, told him: “It seems to me that your life is very rough and hard, especially, in not possessing anything in this world.” To which the saint said: “Lord, if we had possessions, we would need arms for our protection. For disputes and lawsuits usually arise out of them, and, because of this, love of God and neighbor are greatly impeded. Therefore, we do not want to possess anything in this world.” The man of God’s response greatly pleased the bishop. – Your soul is in the arms of God, like a baby in its mother’s arms. 

31 

He composed several rules and tested them, before writing that which he ultimately left to the brothers. In one of them he expressed his scorn of money: “May we who have left all things, then, be careful of not losing the kingdom of heaven for so little. If we find coins anywhere, let us pay no more attention to them than to the dust we trample underfoot.”- Sleep in peace. God will guide you in the way which is to your greatest advantage. 

 

September 2020 Thoughts for the Day by Father Francis Sariego, OFM Cap

September 2020 

 

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

so that, through the prayers and merits of the 

holy and glorious Virgin Mary, His Mother, 

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

the Lord Himself, Who has given a good beginning, 

may give increase and may also give final perseverance. 

Amen. 

(The Testament of St. Clare of Assisi)

 

Daily thoughts from The Sacred Exchange between Saint Francis and Lady Poverty 

 

1

Among the other outstanding and exceptional virtues which prepare in us an abode and a dwelling for God and which show an excellent and unencumbered path of going to and arriving before Him, holy Poverty shines with a certain prerogative before them all.  By a unique grace, it excels the claims of the others. – The danger of indifference demands we do battle with triteness, shallowness, and dullness, and that we have to resist and begin to go in the other direction.

2

For it is the foundation and guardian of all virtues and enjoys a principal place and name among the gospel virtues. As long as they have been firmly placed on this foundation, the others need not fear the downpour of rains, the rush of floods, and the blast of winds that threaten ruin. – Truly good people are always unconscious of their goodness.

3

This is certainly appropriate since the Son of God, the Lord of virtue and the King of glory, fell in love with this virtue (poverty) with a special affection. He sought, found, and embraced it while achieving our salvation in the middle of the earth. – When we compare ourselves with other people, we seem good; when we compare ourselves with God, we are nothing. 

4

At the beginning of his preaching he placed it as a light of faith in the hands of those entering the gate, and even set it as the foundation stone of the house. While the other virtues receive the kingdom of heaven only by way of promise from Him, poverty is invested with it by Him without delay. Blessed, he said, are the poor in spirit, for the kingdom of heaven is theirs. – Love quickly decays.  Has our love grown cold?

5

The kingdom of heaven truly belongs to those who, of their own will, a spiritual intention, and a desire for eternal goods, possess nothing of this earth. It is necessary for those who do not care for the goods of the earth to live for those of heaven.  – The closer we get to Christ, the less certain we are of any merit of our own.

6

Just as it is necessary for those who renounce the things of the earth and consider them all as dung to taste with pleasure during this present exile the sweet crumbs which fall from the table of the holy angels. Thus might they merit to savor how sweet and delightful is the Lord. – The older we get, the better we see ourselves.

7

This is the true investiture of the kingdom of heaven, the assurance of an eternal possession in that kingdom, and a kind of holy foretaste of future beatitude  – The psychology of mediocrity seeks rather to ease the problem than cure it.

8

At the beginning of his conversion, therefore, blessed Francis, as the Savior’s true imitator and disciple, gave himself with all eagerness, all longing, all determination to searching for, finding, and embracing holy poverty. He did so neither wavering under adversity nor fearing injury, neither shirking effort nor shunning bodily discomfort, in order to achieve his desire: to reach her to whom the Lord had entrusted the keys of the kingdom of heaven. –  Life had to be forfeited for our sins, and no life is more precious than that of God who became man. His blood paid the infinite price

9

He eagerly began to go about the streets and piazzas of the city, as a curious explorer diligently looking for her whom his soul loved. He asked those standing about, inquired of those who came near him: “Have you seen her whom my soul loves?” But that saying was hidden from them as though it was barbaric. – Even if we claim not to believe, we still experience the moral effects of guilt.

10

Not understanding him, they told him: “We do not know what you’re saying. Speak to us in our own language and we will answer you.” At that time there was no voice and no sense among Adam’s children of being willing to converse with or to speak to anyone about poverty. – The great sin of the human race is rebellion.  We are rebels against God.

11

They hated it with a vengeance, as they do even today, and could not speak peacefully to anyone asking about it. Therefore, they answered him as they would a stranger and declared that they did not know anything of what he was seeking. – We need to resolve to change, because when we fall into a pattern of ordinariness, we are loath to change. 

12

“I will go to the best and to the wise,” blessed Francis said, “and I will speak with them. For they have known the way of the Lord and the judgment of their God, because those others are poor and stupid, ignorant of the way of the Lord and of the judgment of their God.”  – You will always know the dark days of the Church (and our own) when there is a walking away from the cross of Christ.

13

After he had said this, these men answered him more harshly: “What kind of doctrine is this you are bringing to our ears? May the poverty you seek always be with you, your children and your seed after you. As for us, however, let it be our good fortune to enjoy delights and to abound in riches for the duration of our lives is tedious and demanding, and there is no remedy at one’s final hour. We haven’t learned anything better than to rejoice, eat and drink while we live.”  – There is no such thing as capturing the passing glory. You have to go down the hill and climb the hill of Calvary to come to perfect glory.

14

While he was listening to these things, blessed Francis marveled in his heart and, thanking God, declared: “Blessed are you, the Lord God, who have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and have revealed them to little ones! Yes, Father, because such was your pleasure!  – The modern world is very fond of denying responsibility; it began in Eden.  The denial of responsibility stops at the cross of Christ.

15

Lord, father and ruler of my life, do not abandon me to their counsels nor let me fall in that condemnation. Through your grace, let me, instead, find what I seek for I am your servant and the son of your handmaid.”  – The Cross without Christ is tyranny; Christ without the Cross is a lie.

16

After he left the city, then, blessed Francis quickly came to a certain field in which, as he looked from afar, he saw two old men wasted away from great sorrow. One of them spoke in this way: “Whom shall I respect except the one who is poor and contrite in spirit and the one who trembles at my words?” “We brought nothing into the world,” the other said, “and, without a doubt, we can take nothing out of it; but having food and whatever covers us, we are content with these.” – Like vines, we must be pruned by the gardener, that we might be more fruitful.

17

When blessed Francis reached them, he said to them: “Tell me, I beg you, where does Lady Poverty dwell? Where does she eat? Where does she rest at noon, for I languish with love of her?”  – After we have embraced discipline, then we will be prepared to change others.

18

But they answered: “Good brother, we have sat here for a time and for times and for half a time. We have frequently seen her pass by for there are many searching for her. Sometimes many accompanied her, but she returned alone and naked, not adorned with any jewels, nor graced with any companions, nor wearing any clothes. She used to weep bitterly. –  Softness of character comes about when we desire to accommodate ourselves to the world, shrinking away from sacrifice, self-denial.

19

After receiving the advice of such men, then, blessed Francis came and chose some faithful companions for himself with whom he hurried to the mountain. He said to his brothers: “Come, let us climb the mountain of the Lord and the dwelling of Lady Poverty that she might teach us her ways and we might walk in her paths.”  – The Lord heals, but not always.  There will not be a complete healing until the whole cosmos is renewed.

20

Because of its great height and difficulty, they studied the ascent of the mountain from every angle. Some of them said to one another: “Who can climb this mountain and who can reach its summit?” Blessed Francis understood this and said to them: “The road is difficult, brothers, and the gate that leads to it is narrow. There are few who find it. Be strengthened in the Lord and in the power of his virtue for everything difficult will be easy for you. Cast off the burdens of your own will, get rid of the weight of your sins, and gird yourselves as powerful men.  – Christ solved pain by making it a condition of life. He conquered pain by using it as a means of attaining glory.

21

Forgetting whatever is in the past, stretch yourselves as much as you can for what lies ahead. I tell you that wherever you place your foot will be yours. For the Spirit is before your face, Christ the Lord, Who draws you to the heights of the mountain in bonds of love.  – God chooses us not for what we are, but for what God knows we can become.

22

The espousal of Poverty, brothers, is wonderful, yet we will be able to enjoy her embraces easily because the lady of the nations has been made as it were a widow, the queen of the virtues worthless and contemptible to all. There is no one of our region who would dare to cry out, no one who would oppose us, no one who would be able to prohibit by law this salvific exchange.  – Love knows no limits.

23

All her friends have spurned her and have been made her enemies.” After he said these things, they all began to follow the holy Francis. – Sometimes the only way the good Lord can get into some hearts is to break them.

24

While they were hastening to the summit at a very easy pace, Lady Poverty, standing at the top of the mountain, looked down its slopes. She was greatly astonished at seeing these men climbing so ably, almost flying. “Who are these men,” she asked, “who fly like clouds and like doves to their windows?  – The crucifix is my autobiography.  The blood is the ink. The nails the pen.  The  skin the parchment. On every line of that body I can trace my life.

25

Be strengthened in the Lord and in the power of his virtue for everything difficult will be easy for you. Cast off the burdens of your own will, get rid of the weight of your sins, and gird yourselves as powerful men. Forgetting whatever is in the past, stretch yourselves as much as you can for what lies ahead. I tell you that wherever you place your foot will be yours. For the Spirit is before your face, Christ the Lord, Who draws you to the heights of the mountain in bonds of love. – Instead of a question of superiority or inferiority (in the Church and in fraternity) it is a question of the different roles we fulfill.

26

The espousal of  Poverty, brothers, is wonderful, yet we will be able to enjoy her embraces easily because the lady of the nations has been made as it were a widow, the queen of the virtues worthless and contemptible to all. There is no one of our region who would dare to cry out, no one who would oppose us, no one who would be able to prohibit by law this salvific exchange. – We are all thieves. We cheat God in our lives; we cheat Him in our worship; we cheat Him in our relationships with others.  In us Jesus is reputed among the wicked. 

27

All her friends have spurned her and have been made her enemies.” After he said these things, they all began to follow the holy Francis.  – Scripture never speaks of reconciliation except through the death of Christ.  We are saved by the cross and resurrection.

28

While they were hastening to the summit at a very easy pace, Lady Poverty, standing at the top of the mountain, looked down its slopes. She was greatly astonished at seeing these men climbing so ably, almost flying. “Who are these men,” she asked, “who fly like clouds and like doves to their windows? It has been a long time since I have seen such people or gazed upon those so unencumbered, all their burdens set aside. Therefore I will speak to them about what engages my heart so that, when staring down at the abyss that lies about them, they do not, like others, have second thoughts about such a climb.  – Peter and Judas both betrayed Jesus and both repented.  One repented to the Lord and the other repented to himself.  One lived in hope and the other died in despair.

29

And so Lady Poverty welcomed them with blessings of sweetness. “Tell me, brothers,” she asked them, “what is the reason for your coming and why have you come so quickly from the valley of misery to the mountain of light? Are you, perhaps, looking for me who, as you see, am a poor little one tossed about by storms and without any consolation?”  – In the Garden of Gethsemane, the Lord suffered not so much from pain, as from evil.

30

“We have come to you, our Lady,” they answered, “and beg you: receive us in peace! We wish to become servants of the Lord of hosts, because He is the King of glory. We have heard that you are the queen of virtues and, to some extent, we have learned this from experience. Casting ourselves at your feet, then, we humbly ask you to agree to be with us.  – Nothing gives us so much understanding of the love of God, the sacrificial love, as God coming down to this world from heavenly headquarters and saying: ‘I will take the pain as my own’…This is the agape love of Christianity.

 

St. Francis “conversation” with Lady Poverty 

(below continues the chapter quoted above)

 

Be for us the way of arriving at the King of glory, just as you were for Him when He, the Daybreak from on high, agreed to visit those sitting in darkness and in the shadow of death. For we know that yours is the power, yours is the kingdom. Established as queen and lady by the King of kings, you are above all powers. Simply make peace with us and we will be saved. In that way, He Who redeemed us through you may receive us through you. If you decide to save us, immediately we will be set free. For He, the King of kings, the Lord of lords, the Creator of heaven and earth, desired your splendor and beauty. Even though the king was reclining at table, rich and glorious in his kingdom, he left his house and gave up his inheritance: for there were glory and riches in his house. And so, coming from his royal throne, he sought you with the greatest courtesy. How great must be your dignity, then, and how beyond compare your stature! But after the Lord of lords came, taking you as His own, He lifted up your head among the tribes of the peoples. He adorned you as a bride with a crown, exalting you above the heights of the clouds. Yet, even though any number of people, ignorant of your power and glory, still hate you, this takes nothing away from you because you live freely on the sacred mountains, in the strongest dwelling-place of Christ’s glory