Thought for the Day by Father Francis – March 2020

March 2020

All-powerful God,

everlasting, just and good,

of ourselves we are nothing but poverty;

but grant, for your own sake,

that we may do what we know is your will,

and always desire what is pleasing to you…

Amen.

(Conclusion of the Letter to the Entire Order)

Following are daily excerpts taken from various Franciscan sources. 

Daily meditative phrases from various sources

1

His sermons were not vain and shallow but they were filled with the power of the holy Spirit (Major Legend,chpt.2) – God’s mercy, if we only let him take over, will take us much farther and higher than our own scant justice.

2

He began to preach all over with great commitment and assurance.  He did not have recourse to reasoning founded on human wisdom, but based his teachings on the doctrine and virtue of the Holy Spirit, faithfully proclaiming the kingdom of God (Three Companions,chpt.54) – God’s predilection for the humblest and lowest emphasizes the point that he likes to make of upsetting men’s calculations and betraying expectations based on rank, merit, age or tradition.

3

His style was not as one preaching but as one who is conversing…he spoke clearly and respectably (Thomas of Spalato) – Self-reliance will get us nowhere…the whole process is better looked after when placed in the hands of God than when held tight in our grip as though we were bent on seeing it through at all costs by ourselves.

4

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

5

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

6

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

7

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

8

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

9

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

10

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

11

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

12

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

13

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

14

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

15

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

16

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

17

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

18

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

19

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

20

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

21

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

22

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

23

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

24

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

25

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

26

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

27

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

28

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

29

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

30

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

31

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

 

 

 

 

Thought for the Day – January 2020 – Father Francis Sariego, OFM Cap

January 2020

 

Most High, Glorious God,

enlighten the darkness of our minds.

Give us a right faith, a firm hope and a perfect charity,

so that we may always and in all things act according to Your Holy Will.

Amen.

(Saint Francis of Assisi)

1

When Saint Francis delivered the second Rule to the Lord Pope Honorius for confirmation at Christ’s command…he said to Blessed Francis: Blessed is he who, strengthened by the grace of God, will observe this Rule happily and devotedly, for all the things written in it are holy and Catholic and perfect.  – Many find plenty of time to gossip about and/or criticize others, but so little time to spend and speak with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.

2

(When asked to modify certain aspects of the Rule) Blessed Francis answered: It was not I but Christ who put these words in the Rule.  He knows best what is useful and necessary for the salvation of souls and of the brothers, and for the good state and preservation of the religion. – Separation from earthly things, ambitions, and even friendships at times, often is the mysterious material that cements a soul closer to God.

3

(St. Francis continued): All that will happen in the future to the religion and to the Church is clear and present to Him (Christ).  I must not and cannot change the words of Christ.  Do not be concerned what place you hold but how you hold that place. (St. Therese of Lisieux)

4

(Francis continued): It will happen that the ministers and others in authority in the religion will cause many bitter tribulations for those who wish to observe the Rule faithfully and literally.  – Do what you have to do, work what you have to work. (Words of Jesus to St. Francis)

5

(St. Francis concluded): Since it is the will and obedience of Christ that this Rule and life be understood literally, so it must be your will and obedience that this be done and written in the Rule. – Fear can make matters worse and can heighten pain; trust in God’s presence and providence.

6

(A Master of Theology said to St. Francis): I promise firmly to observe the Gospel and the Rule which Christ has spoken through you, until the end, simply and faithfully, with the help of His grace. – Though abstinence and prayer are of great merit, yet illness and pain suffered with patience is much greater. (St. Pachomius of Egypt)

7

(He continued): But one thing I ask of you.  If  in my lifetime the brothers fall as far away from their pure observance of the Rule as you predicted through the Holy Spirit, I ask by your obedience that I may withdraw from those who do not observe it, alone or with some brothers who wish to observe it purely.  – The cross is the gift God gives His friends (Cure` of Ars)

8

Blessed Francis added that all the promises made to him by Christ would, in the end, be fulfilled in those who would strive to observe the Rule simply, to the letter, and without glosses and with joy. – No true child of Mary will ever be lost. Love Mary and obey Her last words in Scripture: Do whatever He tells you.

9

Saint Francis also predicted a very great trial of his brothers that was to come because of the love of learning, and that a violent wind from the desert would arise (and severely shake the Order). – I have cast myself into the hands of Almighty God, for He rules everything (St. Patrick)

10

This cheap, rough and short sackcloth with which I cover my shoulders is the cheapness and austerity of poverty which the brothers promised the Lord they would wear proudly.  But abandoning it, they will cling to every kind of relaxation.  – We can never become saints until we place all our trust in God.

11

He believed that the highest obedience…was by divine inspiration going among the Saracens and non-believers. He considered requesting this very pleasing to God (and said). The brothers who go can live among them in a two-fold way. One way is not to engage in arguments and disputes and to acknowledge that they are Christians.  The other way is to announce the word of God when they see it pleases the Lord.  – Love the disagreeable.

12

Blessed Francis was overjoyed at the place granted to the brothers, especially because of the name of this church of the Mother of Christ, and because it was such a poor little church, and because it was surnamed: ‘of the Portiuncula’. – It is not the inner irritation, often spontaneous, that is wrong; it is the outward display of this interior annoyance that is wrong. (St. Therese of Lisieux)

13

Soon after the brothers went to stay (at the Portiuncula), almost daily the Lord increased their food, and news of them and their fame flew throughout the whole valley of Spoleto. Although the abbot and monks had freely granted it to blessed Francis and his brothers without payment, every year (blessed Francis) used to send a basket full of small fish as a sign of greater humility and poverty. – Happiness consists in forgetfulness of self (St. Therese of Lisieux)

14

(The monks in turn) because of the humility of blessed Francis, who had done this of his own free will, gave him and his brothers a jar filled with oil. – Humility is the hinge upon which hangs the virtue of patience.

15

It had been revealed to (blessed Francis) in that place (of the Portiuncula) that, of all the churches of the world that she has, the blessed Virgin loved that church. Therefore, during his whole lifetime he always had the greatest reverence and devotion toward it.  – The beginning of humility is the beginning of blessedness and its fulfillment is the perfection of all joy.

16

About the time of his death (blessed Francis) said: I want to leave and bequeath to the brothers the place of Saint Mary of the Portiuncula as a testament, that it may always be held in the greatest reverence and devotion by the brothers. – In perfect humility all selfishness disappears and the soul no longer lives for itself or in itself but for God. (Thomas Merton)

17

For although the place itself is holy, (the brothers) preserved its holiness with constant prayer day and night and by constant silence. And if, at times, anyone spoke after the established time for silence, they discussed with greatest devotion and decorum matters pertaining to the praise of God and the salvation of souls. –Humility is truth.

18

Blessed Francis often said these words to the brothers; I have never been a thief, that is, in regard to alms, which are the inheritance of the poor.  I always took less than I needed, so that other poor people would not be cheated of their share.  To act otherwise would be theft. – Whenever you are frightened or lonesome…visit Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament and enter in spirit into His Sacred Heart. (St.Elzear to his wife Delphine)

19

When urged to allow the brothers to have something at least in common, Saint Francis called upon Christ in prayer and consulted Him about this.  Christ immediately responded that He would take away everything held individually or in common, saying that this is His family for whom He was always ready to provide as long as it would put its hope in Him. – Don’t worry, if uncomplimentary things are said about you.  Worse things were said about Christ. (St. Elzear to his household)

20

(When the ministers of the Order wanted Francis to mitigate the Rule) The voice of Christ was then heard in the air, saying: Francis, nothing of yours is in the Rule: whatever is there is all mine.  And I want the Rule observed in this way: to the letter, to the letter, to the letter, and without a gloss, without a gloss, without a gloss. – Remove humility and all virtue will vanish. (Cure` of Ars)

21

(And the voice of Christ added): I know how much human weakness is capable of, and how much I want to help them.  Those who refuse to observe it should leave the Order. – For anyone striving to become virtuous there is always the danger that we may fall victim of spiritual pride.

22

(At the Chapter of Mats, when prelates of the Church suggested that he adopt one of the existing Rules, blessed Francis said): God has called me by the way of simplicity, and showed me the way of simplicity. I do not want you to mention to me any rule … and the Lord told me what He wanted.  He wanted me to be a new fool in the world. – Virtue cannot thrive in a soul filled with worry, tension or fear. Sanctity grows best in serenity.

23

The Lord Jesus Christ said to Brother Leo, the companion of blessed Francis: I have a complaint about the brothers. They do not recognize My gifts which, as you know, I  generously bestow on them daily.  All day long they are idle and complain.  And they often provoke one another to anger, and do not return to love, and do not pardon the injury they receive. –  I enjoy life even more than you do; but love of life does not make me afraid to die. (St. Apollonius to his judge)

24

Blessed Francis said that he had obtained from the Lord four things. Namely, the religion and the profession of the Lesser Brothers will last until the day of judgment, no one who deliberately persecutes the Order will live long. No evil person, intending to live an evil life in it, will be able to remain in it for long. Whosoever loves the Order wholeheartedly, however great a sinner, will obtain mercy in the end. – Have a sense of humor. The essence of real humor is a heart at peace with God and the world.

25

(Blessed Francis said) For my part, I want only this privilege from the Lord: not to have any privilege from any  human being, except to show reverence to all, and, by the obedience of the holy Rule, to convert everyone more by example than word – Real joy comes from a heart in harmony with God.

26

When Saint Francis went before the Lord Pope by whom the Rule was confirmed and sealed, Francis placed his hand upon it, swore and said that this was the will of God and no other.  And he did this a second and a third time. – By the sheer weight of good example we can lead others to Christ.

27

Blessed Francis re-entered the cave and spoke with God, like Moses in the tent on Mount Sinai, face to face, and God said: Francis, build me a wall between temporal affairs and your brothers. – Holiness comes not by talking about it, or studying it, but by living it.

28

Let the brothers not make anything their own, neither house, nor place, nor anything at all.  As pilgrims and strangers in this world, serving the Lord in poverty. – Whoever wishes to save his soul must have three souls in one; toward God the heart of a son; toward one’s neighbor the heart of a mother; and toward himself the heart of a judge. (Thomas a` Kempis)

29

Saint Francis command(ed): I strictly command all my cleric and lay brothers, through obedience, not to place any gloss upon the Rule or upon these words, but as the Lord has given me. – Live like one about to die. (Murillo)

30

As Moses with God and God with him, so Saint Francis spoke with the Lord, and the Lord fully related to him future events, concerning not only the Order but also the whole Church until the end of the world. – One virtue that shines more brightly in the lives of the saints is the virtue of charity, i.e. unfeigned compassion for others in need.

31

(Saint Francis came from prayer upset and said to the brother): While I was at prayer, I begged the Lord for peace for the Christian people, because it was revealed to me that many trials would come upon the Christian people.  And so the Lord Jesus was kind enough to appear to me. – If you are honestly looking for Christ, you will find Him quickest and most often in His poor.

BLESSED AND MERRY CHRISTMAS

HAPPY NEW YEAR – 2020!

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

December 2019

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

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

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

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

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

Amen.

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

 

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

1

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

2

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

3

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

4

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

5

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

6

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

7

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

8

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

9

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

10

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

11

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

12

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

13

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

14

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

15

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

16

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

17

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

18

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

19

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

20

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

21

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

22

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

23

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

24

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

25

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

26

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

27

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

28

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

29

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

30

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

31

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

 

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

GOD’S BLESSINGS ON EVERYONE!

MAY IT BE A YEAR FILLED WITH GOD’S

PEACE AND BLESSINGS

 

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

November 2019

 

Most High, all-powerful, good Lord,

Yours are the praises, the glory, and the honor, and all blessing,

To you alone, Most High, do they belong,

and no human is worthy to mention Your name.

Praised be You, my Lord, with all Your creatures,

especially Sir Brother Sun, …  Sister Moon and the stars, …Brother Wind, …

Sister Water, … Brother Fire, … our Sister Mother Earth, …

Praised be You, my Lord, through those who give pardon for Your love, …

Praised be you, my Lord, through our Sister Bodily Death,

from whom no one living can escape.

Woe to those who die in mortal sin.

Blessed are those whom death will find in Your most holy will,

for the second death shall do them no harm.

Praise and bless my Lord and give Him thanks and serve Him with great humility.

Amen.

(Canticle of the Creatures [abbreviated] by Saint Francis of Assisi)

 

 

Excerpts from: The Tree of the Crucified Life of Jesus

 (Ubertino da Casale)

 

Daily reflections are taken from various sources

 

1

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

2

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

3

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

4

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

5

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

6

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

7

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

8

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

9

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

10

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

11

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

12

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

13

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

14

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

15

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

16

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

17

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

18

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

19

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

20

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

21

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

22

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

23

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

24

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

25

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

26

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

27

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

28

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

29

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

30

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

Thought for the Day by Father Francis Sariego, OFM Cap

October 2019

Almighty, eternal, just, and merciful God,

grant to us wretches, by your will, to do what we know you wish,

and ever to wish what pleases you,

in order that, purified in soul, lighted up within,

and inflamed by the fire of the Holy Spirit,

we may follow the footsteps of your Son,

our Lord Jesus Christ,

and reach you, Most High, by your grace alone.

For you live and reign and are glorified,

in perfect Trinity and simple Unity, Almighty God

forever and ever.

Amen.

(Letter to the Chapter)

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

1

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

2

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

3

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

4

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

5

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

6

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

7

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

8

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

9

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

10

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

11

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

12

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

13

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

14

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

15

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

16

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

17

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

18

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

19

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

20

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

21

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

22

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

23

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

24

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

25

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

26

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

27

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

28

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

29

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

30

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

31

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

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

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

 

Let each priest say three Masses,

each cleric the Psalter,

and the lay brothers five Our Fathers.

Let the clerics also recite the common vigil office.

Amen. 

Brother Elias, Sinner.

 

 

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

September 2019

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

so that, through the prayers and merits of the

holy and glorious Virgin Mary, His Mother,

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

the Lord Himself, Who has given a good beginning,

may give increase and may also give final perseverance.

Amen.

(The Testament of St. Clare of Assisi)

The daily excerpts continue from the Papal Decree of Canonization

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

1

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

2

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

3

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

4

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

5

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

6

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

7

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

8

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

9

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

10

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

11

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

12

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

13

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

14

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

15

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

16

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

17

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

18

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

19

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

20

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

21

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

22

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

23

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

24

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

25

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

26

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

27

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

28

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

29

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

30

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

 

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

August 2019

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

so that, through the prayers and merits of the

holy and glorious Virgin Mary, His Mother,

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

the Lord Himself, Who has given a good beginning,

may give increase and may also give final perseverance.

Amen.

(The Testament of St. Clare of Assisi) 

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

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

1

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

2

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

3

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

4

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

5

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

6

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

7

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

8

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

9

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

10

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

11

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

12

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

13

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

14

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

15

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

16

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

17

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

18

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

19

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

20

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

21

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

22

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

23

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

24

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

25

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

26

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

27

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

28

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

29

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

30

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

31

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

Peace and Blessings

 

Fr. Francis A. Sariego, O.F.M. Cap.

Regional Spiritual Assistant

 

 

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

July 2019


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

their one and only consolation, there is little comfort…

they still .. tearfully cry out to you:

O father,

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

His sacred stigmata;

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

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

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

Amen.


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

1

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

2

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

3

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

4

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

5

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

6

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

7

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

8

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

9

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

10

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

11

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

12

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

13

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

14

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

15

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

16

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

17

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

18

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

19

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

20

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

21

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

22

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

23

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

24

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

25

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

26

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

27

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

28

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

29

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

30

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

31

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

 

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

June 2019

O loving one

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

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

O father,

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

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

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

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

Amen.

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


1

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

2

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

3

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

4

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

5

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

6

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

7

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

8

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

9

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

10

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

11

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

12

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

13

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

14

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

15

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

16

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

17

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

18

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

19

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

20

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

21

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

22

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

23

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

24

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

25

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

26

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

27

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

28

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

29

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

30

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

 

 

 

 

 

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

May 2019

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

Predestined turning point of God’s intention;

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

To make Himself the creature of His creature.

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

Within whose ray this flower has come to bloom.

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

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

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

Would have his wish fly upward without wings.

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

But oftentimes your charity arrives before the pleas.

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

In you unites all that creation knows of excellence!

(Dante Alighieri – Paradiso – Canto XXXIII)

1

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

2

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

3

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

4

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

5

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

6

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

7

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

8

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

9

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

10

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

11

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

12

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

13

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

14

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

15

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

16

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

17

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

18

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

19

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

20

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

21

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

22

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

23

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

24

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

25

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

26

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

27

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

28

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

29

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

30

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

31

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