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

May 2019

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

Predestined turning point of God’s intention;

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

To make Himself the creature of His creature.

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

Within whose ray this flower has come to bloom.

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

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

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

Would have his wish fly upward without wings.

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

But oftentimes your charity arrives before the pleas.

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

In you unites all that creation knows of excellence!

(Dante Alighieri – Paradiso – Canto XXXIII)

1

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

2

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

3

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

4

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

5

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

6

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

7

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

8

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

9

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

10

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

11

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

12

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

13

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

14

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

15

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

16

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

17

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

18

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

19

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

20

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

21

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

22

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

23

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

24

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

25

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

26

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

27

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

28

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

29

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

30

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

31

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

 

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

April 2019

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

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

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

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

Father, Son and Holy Spirit,

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

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

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

sublime, most high, gentle, lovable, delightful,

and totally desirable above all else for ever.

Amen.

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

1

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

2

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

3

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

4

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

5

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

6

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

7

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

8

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

9

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

10

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

11

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

12

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

13

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

14

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

15

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

16

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

17

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

18

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

19

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

20

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

21

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

22

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

23

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

24

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

25

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

26

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

27

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

28

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

29

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

30

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

 

Thoughts for the Day – March, 2019 by Father Francis

 

March 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Amen

Prayer Inspired  by the Our Father – abbreviated

Following are daily excerpts taken from various sources.

1

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

2

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

3

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

4

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

5

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

6

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

7

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

8

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

9

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

10

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

11

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

12

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

13

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

14

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

15

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

16

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

17

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

18

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

19

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

20

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

21

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

22

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

23

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

24

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

25

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

26

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

27

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

28

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

29

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

30

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

31

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

 

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

February 2019

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

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

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

Who alone is good, Who alone is almighty,

Who alone is omnipotent, wonderful, glorious and Who alone is holy,

worthy of praise and blessing through endless ages.

Amen,.

(Prayer of Saint Francis in the Second Version of the Letter to the Faithful)

Daily reflections are taken from various sources and Talks of Pope St.John Paul II

1

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

2

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

3

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

4

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

5

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

6

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

7

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

8

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

9

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

10

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

11

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

12

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

13

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

14

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

15

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

16

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

17

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

18

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

19

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

20

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

21

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

22

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

23

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

24

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

25

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

26

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

27

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

28

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

Thought for the Day by Fr. Francis Sariego, OFM Cap – November 2018

November 2018

 

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: A Book of the Praises of Saint Francis

Daily reflections are taken from various sources

 

1

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

2

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

3

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

4

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

5

After blessed Francis returned from the Supreme Pontiff from whom he received the authority to preach, gathered his brothers around him near the city of Assisi in an abandoned hut that was so confined that (they) … were hardly able to sit or rest in it. – To progress in virtue, we need a plan and to stick to it.

6

There was no complaining…no grumbling, but with peaceful heart, the soul filled with joy, preserved patience. Under the tutelage of the holy father, the increased number of brothers later grew in perfection. – Be a creature of character, for character means reliability, dependability, self-discipline.

7

They were truly lesser, in name as in humility of mind, who…always sought a place and position of humility…they loved one another in a remarkable way… –Without humility all others virtues are either impossible, or tarnished and vitiated.

8

They poured out all their affection in common, hiring themselves out to provide for the other’s need, seeking not their own interests but those of Christ and of their neighbors. – The greater a person is esteemed in the eyes of people, the less he/she should be esteemed in his/her own.

9

But truly obedient soldiers, they never dared to place anything before holy obedience, knowing nothing about distinguishing precepts.  They almost ran headlong, to carry out what they were asked with no thought of contradicting it. – A humble person is not disturbed by praise, for it all belongs to God.

10

Wherever they met people on the roads or in the piazzas, the brothers would encourage them to love and to fear their Creator. – The humble receives praise the way a clean window takes the light; the truer and more intense the light is, the less you see of the glass.

11

All their senses were so subdued that … there was a simple appearance, a modest bearing, and, with their eyes fixed on the ground, there minds were set on heaven. – Scripture reminds us that God resists the proud.

12

The brothers strove diligently to fulfill not only what he told them as by brotherly advice or by fatherly command, but also what by some sign they recognized he wanted. – We are not merely to prize our Faith but profess it with our life.

13

They were totally ignorant of duplicity of heart.  For just as there was in them one faith, so there was one spirit, one will, one charity, continual unity of spirit, harmony in living, cultivation of virtues, agreement of minds, and piety in action. – Just what are we doing today with the Faith God has given us?

14

At one time, when a tempted brother asked Francis to pray for him, the holy man said: ‘ Believe me, son, I believe you are more a servant of God because of this. No one should consider himself a servant of God until he has passed through temptations and tribulations.’ – Never forget a kindness, and never remember an injury.

15

To his brothers, he would speak compassionately, not as a judge, but as a father to his children and as a doctor to the sick … He was truly endowed with outstanding discernment and the grace of simplicity, so that with a true dove-like simplicity, he possessed the prudence of a serpent,. – The most powerful remedy against sudden movements of impatience is a gentle and friendly silence.

16

Francis’ zeal to observe poverty and humility and to be continually engaged with virtuous things was unusual. He rejoiced in poor little dwellings…As for ‘necessity’ not based on reason but on pleasure, he declared that it was a sign of a spirit that was extinguished … He wanted few books … He did not want the brothers to have money or handle it … – Today, right now, this very moment, is the time to start being what God wants me to be.

17

…he spoke to the Lord Pope who argued that it was difficult to live without possessions. ‘My Lord, I trust in my Lord Jesus Christ.  Since he has promised to give us life and glory in heaven, He will not deprive us of our bodily necessities when we need them on earth’. – The strength of the saints lies in their weakness through which God manifests Himself.

18

(Francis) would frequently say: As far as the brothers will withdraw from poverty, that far will the world withdraw from them.  They owe the world an example, and the world owes the food they need.  When the brothers withdraw good example, the world withdraws from them its support’. – Love incites imitation.

19

With the greatest zeal he cultivated poverty’s companion, the virtue of humility. – Sometimes love is too superficial and non an inner, all-consuming love, the kind of true love that makes one a captive, ready to serve, willing to forego, prepared to sacrifice.

20

(Francis) used to say: ‘We have been sent to help clerics for the salvation of souls so that they may make up whatever may be lacking in them … Be subject to prelates so that as much as possible on your part no jealousy arises’… – Cultivate resignation to God’s Will in all things.

21

He was, in his own eyes, a great sinner, while actually he was in every way a mirror of holiness, and also a virgin in the flesh, as he revealed to that very holy man, Brother Leo, his confessor … – Pray humbly each day for divine guidance to reflect rather than rush into something we may later have to regret.

22

The holy man always insisted on progress in doing good, … No idler could appear in his presence without feeling the sharp bite of his criticism … He rejoiced upon hearing that the brothers in a hermitage in Spain had divided their time, that one part of the week was dedicated to household chores, and the other to contemplation. – What benefits a garden or orchard is not a sudden storm but the gentle, steady force of a lingering all-day and all-night rain.

23

(The first Order established by Francis) is the Order of Lesser Brothers whose purpose is to serve the Lord according to the Gospel in poverty and humility, and to preach penitence. Innumerable signs in the professed testify that this is acceptable to God… – Real charity is warm, spontaneous, quickly responsive, never letting then left hand know what the right hand is doing.

24

Some religious are said to have been shown under the mantle of the Blessed Virgin.  Thus the Mother of God herself showed brothers to be under the protection of the wings of the Son of God … – The more we love God, the more we will want to love His creatures, especially those less favored and fortunate than we.

25

The Second Order…is that of virgins and continent married women, whose proposal is serve God in the enclosure, in perpetual silence, and in mortifying the flesh.  The first member of his Order was the blessed Clare … living …under the profession of the mot exalted poverty … – If you desire that God should hear your prayers, hear the voice of the poor.

26

The Third Order is of the Brothers and Sisters of Penance, shared by clerics, laity, virgins, widows, and married couples.  Their purpose is to live uprightly in their own homes, to devote their attention to works of piety, and to flee the world’s allurements. – Humility is a sincere distrust of self, on the one hand, and a firmly clinging reliance upon God, on the other.

27

The Lord made his servant, Francis, grow into a great nation, thus He gave him the blessing of all nations. – It is not a question of who you are or where you are, but of what you do with what you have!

28

When the time of Francis’ warfare in this life finally came to an end, the holy father departed happily to Christ in the year of the Incarnation of the Lord 1226 … A most illustrious Roman matron, Lady Jacoba dei Settesoli, very devoted to the man of God, came to visit him… She administered whatever seemed necessary for his funeral … – When you can’t pray on your knees (in church), pray on your feet (in fulfilling your daily duties).

29

(Francis) named her Brother Jacoba because of the vigor of her virtues, (and) wished to see her before he died … when the saint saw her, he rejoiced that, as he had hoped, she had been sent by God … It was thought the saint would live longer … The saint (said): ‘I will depart on Saturday evening.  You can leave with your retinue on the following day’. – Prayer is being on terms of friendship with God, often raising our minds to Him.

30

On the day and at the hour which he predicted, the saint was gathered to the Lord to live with Him … His most holy body was buried at Assisi in the Church of Saint George … After a few years a church was built in the saint’s honor … The site is called the Hill of Paradise… So great a multitude of people had come together for the celebration that the city was not able to contain them… – All for you, my God, because I love you.