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

September 2020 

 

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

so that, through the prayers and merits of the 

holy and glorious Virgin Mary, His Mother, 

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

the Lord Himself, Who has given a good beginning, 

may give increase and may also give final perseverance. 

Amen. 

(The Testament of St. Clare of Assisi)

 

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

 

1

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

2

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

3

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

4

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

5

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

6

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

7

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

8

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

9

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

10

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

11

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

12

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

13

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

14

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

15

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

16

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

17

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

18

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

19

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

20

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

21

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

22

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

23

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

24

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

25

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

26

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

27

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

28

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

29

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

30

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

 

St. Francis “conversation” with Lady Poverty 

(below continues the chapter quoted above)

 

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

 

 

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

August 2020

Let us desire nothing else, let us wish for nothing else, let nothing else please us and cause us delight, except our Creator and Redeemer and Savior, the one true God,  

Who is fullness of Good, all Good, every Good, the true and Supreme Good, 

Who alone is merciful and gentle, delectable and sweet, Who alone is holy, just and true, holy and right, 

Who alone is kind, innocent, pure,  

from Whom and through Whom and in Whom is all pardon, all grace, all glory.  

Therefore, let nothing hinder us, nothing separate us or come between us. 

Let us all, wherever we are 

Glorify and exalt, magnify and give thanks to the Most High and supreme eternal God. 

Amen. 

(Saint Francis of Assisi)

1

The truly clean of heart are those who look down upon earthly things, seek those of heaven, and, with a clean heart and spirit, never cease adoring and seeing the Lord God living and true (Admonitions,#16) – Let yourselves be charmed by Christ…attracted by his example…loved by the love of the Holy Spirit…fall in love with Jesus Christ.

2

We carry Him (Jesus) in our heart and body through love and a pure and sincere conscience; and give Him birth through a holy activity, which must shine before others by example. (Letter to Faithful) – Do not be afraid! Open wide the doors to Christ! Open to his saving power.

3

He taught them to mortify not only vices and to check the promptings of the flesh, but also to check the external senses, through which death enters the soul. (1Celano,chpt.16) – Human beings are called to become disciples of that Other One who infinitely transcends them, in order to enter at last into true life.

4

Unbending in discipline he stood upon his guard, taking the greatest care to preserve purity of both soul and body (Major Legend,chpt.5) – In the mystery of his cross and resurrection, Christ has bridged the infinite distance that separates all people from new life in him.

5

He used to say that it should be incomparably more tolerable for a spiritual man to endure great cold in his flesh rather than to feel even slightly the heat of carnal lust in his heart. (Major Legend,chpt.5) – Faith must be quickened by love.  It must come alive through the good works which reveal God’s truth in us.

6

If, at the instigation of the devil, any brother commits fornication, let him be deprived of the habit he has lost by his wickedness, put it aside completely, and be altogether expelled from our Order.  Afterwards he may do penance. (Earlier Rule,chpt.13) – Being a Christian must mean being a witness for Christ.

7

The Rule of the Lesser Brothers is this: to observe the holy Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ by living in obedience, without anything of one’s own, and in chastity. (Later Rule,chpt.1) – The commandments must be understood as a path involving a moral and spiritual journey toward perfection, at the heart of which is love.

8

He was naturally courteous in manner and speech, and following his heart’s intent, never uttered a rude or offensive word to anyone…His reputation, because of this, became so widespread…that many who knew him said that, in the future, he would be something great. (Three Companions,chpt.1) – Through the Spirit, (Jesus) gives the grace to share his own life and love and provides the strength to bear witness to that love in personal choices and actions.

9

He taught not only that the vices of the flesh must be mortified and its prompting checked, but also that the exterior senses, through which death enters the soul, should be guarded with the greatest care. (Major Legend,chpt.5) – God who is always merciful even when he punishes preferred the correction rather than the death of a sinner, did not desire that a homicide (murder of Abel by Cain) be punished by the exaction of another act of homicide.

10

To carry in his own body the armor of the cross, he held in check his sensual appetites with such a rigid discipline that he scarcely too what was necessary for the sustenance of nature. (Major Legend,chpt.5) – Peace must become the goal of all men and women of good will.

11

At that time the brothers dedicated themselves to the practices of fasts, of vigils, of work, in order to dominate the incentives of the flesh. (Anonymous of Perugia) – Peace is our duty: our grave duty, our supreme responsibility.

12

The brothers were sometimes surprised that he did not often visit such holy handmaids (St. Clare and Sisters) of Christ…but he would say: ’Don’t imagine, dear brothers, that I don’t love them fully. But I am giving you an example, that as I do, so should you also do’. (2Celano,chpt.155) – At the last judgment we shall all be judged without distinction on our practical love of our brothers and sisters.

13

When he spoke with her (St. Clare) or about her, he never mentioned her by name, but he called her the Christian. (Bro. Stephen) – It will be in the practical love they have shown that many will discover that they have in fact met Christ, although without having known him before in an explicit way.

14

Father Francis exhorted her (St. Clare) to despise the world and instilled in her ears the sweetness of being wed to Christ, persuading her to preserve the precious gem of her virginal chastity for her blessed Spouse. (Legend of St. Clare,chpt.5) – If you want peace, reach out to the poor!

15

(St. Clare) entrusted herself totally to Francis, choosing him as her guide, after God…and she accepted with an ardent heart all that he taught her about the good Jesus. (Legend of St. Clare,chpt.6) – (The church is a ‘pilgrim church’); her pilgrimage is interior: it is a question of a pilgrimage in the Holy Spirit strengthened by the power of God’s grace promised her by the Lord

16

The week that Francis passed from this life, Clare informed Francis of her desire to see him.  The saint, informed of this, was deeply moved, because he loved Clare and her sisters with a father’s love. (Legend of Perugia) – (There is) a need for a profound transformation of hearts through the rediscovery of the father’s mercy and through victory over misunderstanding and over hostility among brothers and sisters.

17

(As the body of Francis is brought to Assisi passing San Damiano, Clare and sisters weep saying): Father, what shall we do? Why are you abandoning us poor women? lf consolation ebbs away along with you, who will comfort us in so great a poverty, poverty of merit as much as of goods? Who will help us in temptations? (1Celano,bk.2,chpt.10) – Refusal of God’s fatherly love and of his loving gifts is always at the root of humanity’s divisions.

18

(Clare and Sisters continue): You, who experienced so many temptations!  Who will comfort us in the midst of distress? You, who were so often our help in times of distress!  What bitter separation! what painful absence! (1Celano,bk.2,chpt.10) – God, ‘rich in mercy’, does not close his heart to any of his children.

19

Among the virtues Francis loved and desired the brothers preserve after holy humility he loved the beautiful and immaculate virtue of chastity.(Mirror,#86) – (God) waits for (his children), looks for them, goes to meet them at the place where the refusal of communion imprisons them in isolation and division.

20

Unbending in discipline, he kept an exceedingly attentive watch over himself.  He took particular care in guarding the priceless treasure in a vessel of clay, that is, chastity, which he strove to possess in holiness and honor through the virtuous purity of both body and soul. (Minor Legend,chpt.3) – The initiative on God’s part is made concrete and manifest in the redemptive act of Christ, which radiates through the world by means of the ministry of the church.

21

His mastery over the flesh was now so complete that he seemed to have made a covenant with his eyes; he would not only flee far away from carnal sights, but also totally avoid even the curious glance at anything vain. (Minor Legend,chpt.3) – The essence and role of the family are in the final analysis specified by love.

22

Even though he had attained purity of heart and body, and in some manner was approaching the height of sanctification, he did not cease to cleanse the eyes of his soul with a continuous flood of tears. (Minor Legend,chpt.3) – The family has the mission to guard, reveal and communicate love, and this is a living reflection of and real sharing in God’s love for humanity and the love of Christ the Lord for the church his bride.

23

We prohibit anyone of you to wander outside of obedience with the habit of your holy religion and thus corrupt the purity of your poverty. (‘Cum Secundum’ of Pope Honorius III) – Man cannot live without love. His life is senseless if love is not revealed to him, if he does not experience it and make it his own, if he does not participate intimately in it.

24

Encompassed by the weakness of the flesh, a human cannot follow the spotless crucified Lamb so perfectly as to avoid contacting any filth.  Therefore he taught those who strive after the perfect life to cleanse themselves daily. (Major Legend,chpt.5) – (We are) to become a temple of the Blessed Trinity.  What greater degree of communion with God could (we) ever aspire to?

25

Although he had already attained extraordinary purity of heart and body, he did not cease to cleanse the eyes of his soul with a continuous flood of tears, unconcerned about the loss of his bodily sight. (Major Legend,chpt.5) – The hectic pace of daily activity, combined with the noisy and often frivolous invasiveness of the means of communication, is certainly not something conducive to the interior recollection required for prayer.

26

(The Dominican theologian after visiting with Francis said to the friars) My brothers, the theology of this man, held aloft by purity and contemplation, is a soaring eagle, while our learning crawls on its belly on the ground. (2Celano,bk.2,chpt.69) – You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you. (St. Augustine)

27

I beg in the Lord all my brothers who are priests, or who will be, or who wish to be priests of the Most High that whenever they wish to celebrate Mass, being pure, they offer the true Sacrifice of the most holy Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ with purity and reverence, with a holy and unblemished intention.(Letter to the Order) – The Holy Spirit is the gift that comes into man’s heart together with prayer. In prayer he manifests himself first of all as the gift that ’helps us in our weakness’.

28

Seeing the foe was carrying the day, the most high Lord sent in the cavalry with a well-trained commander.  St. Francis was chosen as standard-bearer. He wanted no one to ride with him who did not accept the reins of three bridles: poverty, obedience, and chastity. (Jacopone of Todi) – The new evangelization will show its authenticity and unleash all its missionary force when it is carried out through the gift not only of the word proclaimed but also of the word lived, and in particular the life of holiness.

29

Wherever they may be or may go, let all the brothers avoid evil glances and association with women…Let us all keep close watch over ourselves and keep all our members clean. (Earlier Rule,chpt.12) – The life of holiness constitutes the simplest and most attractive way to perceive at once the beauty of truth, the liberating force of God’s love, and the value of unconditional fidelity to all the demands of the Lord’s law.

30

Saint Francis used to engage carefully in a daily, or rather, constant examination of himself and his followers.  Allowing nothing dangerous to remain in them, he drove from their hearts any negligence. He was on his guard at every hour. (1Celano,chpt.16) – The Mother of God is a type of the church in the matter of faith, charity and perfect union with Christ. The church brings forth to a new and immortal life children who are conceived of the Holy Spirit and born of God. (Vatican II)

31

He taught them to mortify not only vices and to check the promptings of the flesh, but also to check external senses, through which death enters the soul. (1Celano,chpt.16) – In Jesus all broken lines unite; in Him all scattered sounds are gathered into harmony. (G.K.Chesterton)

 

 

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

July  2020

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

Holy and just Father, Lord King of heaven and earth

we thank You for Yourself, for through Your holy will

and through Your only Son with the holy Spirit

You have created everything spiritual and corporal

… making us in Your own image and likeness,…

We thank You…

1

Servants of the Lord should not be ignorant of the lives and teachings of saints through which they can come to God.  – When you come to Christ, Christianity demands the personal, intimate bond.  We have to be one with him, and reflect the person, mind, will, heart and humanity of Christ.

2

On the 16th of April, after 1207 years completed since the Incarnation of the Lord … God saw that His people … had forgotten His commandments … desiring not the death of the sinner, but that he be converted and live… God willed to send workers into His vineyard. –  Faith is not the will to believe; it is the acceptance of truth based on the authority of God’s revelation.

3

Preoccupied with thoughts of wealth … Francis sent (a beggar away) without giving him alms … touched by divine grace, he began to accuse himself. – Reconciliation is inseparable from the death of Christ. We never have reconciliation without the passion, death, and resurrection of our Lord.

4

(After sending the poor man away, Francis thought): If the poor man had asked in the name of a count or a powerful baron, you would have granted him his request.  How much more should you have done this for the King of kings and the lord of all? – Because of sin we all need a fresh start.

5

He resolved in his heart, from then on, never to refuse a request from anyone asking in the name of so great a Lord. He called the poor man back and gave him a generous alms. – Let there be less of me and more of Christ.

6

He arrived in Spoleto … half asleep, he heard a voice asking him …Who can do more for you, the lord or the servant? The lord, he answered. Then why are you abandoning the lord for the servant, and the patron for the client? – The more ego there is, the less there is of Christ.

7

Francis sold the horse … as well as the wardrobe … and put on cheaper clothing … he approached a church … he threw the money on the windowsill of that church for he considered it worthless. – The more we are Christ, the more he can use us.

8

Without any worldly possessions, dressed in cheap and very miserable clothing … The Lord enriched the poor and contemptible man. Filling him with His Holy Spirit, He put into his mouth the words of life …  – Christ does not open doors and give us opportunities, until we are flexible in his hands, obedient like a pencil in his hands.

9

(The Lord) put into his mouth words of life that he might preach and announce to the people judgment and mercy, punishment and glory and to recall to their minds the commandments of God they had forgotten. – Nothing in all the world is worth a moment of time except to know more of him.

10

Desiring to possess neither gold nor silver, nor money nor any other thing, he followed the lord in humility, poverty, and the simplicity of his heart. – Christ wants us to be available so that he can display his power through us, his truth through us.

11

Almost everyone considered him mad. But he did not care, nor did he answer them. He strove with all eagerness to fulfill the task God had shown him. – The Christian is another Jesus.

12

We walked not in the learned words of human wisdom, but in the display and power of the Spirit. – When Christ becomes the rule of life, then his life becomes ours.

13

Two men of Assisi inspired by divine grace, humbly approached him…We wish to live with you from now on … Tell us, therefore, what we should do … (Francis) answered them kindly: Let us go and seek counsel from the Lord.  – Conscience can never be covered up; guilt will always come out.

14

They fell on their knees and humbly prayed: Lord, God, Father of glory, we beg you in your mercy, show us what we are to do … They immediately found the passage: If you wish to be perfect, go, sell everything you possess and give to the poor, and you will have a treasure in heaven. – Conscience bothers us when it is not where it is supposed to be

15

Having no place to stay, they went and found a poor and nearly abandoned church called Saint Mary of the Portiuncula,.  There they built a small dwelling where they lived together. – Every atheist is afraid of the dark. You don’t find atheists in foxholes.

16

They were filled with a great joy, as if they had acquired an immense treasure.  They were able to rejoice so much because they had forsaken so much, and considered as dung the things over which people usually grieve. – It is not man who is on the quest for God.  It is God who is on the quest for man

17

The man of God … would encourage men and women to fear and love the Creator of heaven and earth and to do penance for their sins. – We need to fall in love with the Lord.

18

Even though hardly anyone followed them, people remained nevertheless in awe at the holy way of life which they seemed to be marked for the Lord’s sake. – When we love the Lord, we want to be one with him.  That is love’s first effect.

19

They suffered extreme want.  Even their relatives and families would persecute them.  Others from that city – great and small, men and women – would scorn and ridicule them as senseless and stupid, except for the city’s bishop to whom the blessed Francis frequently went to seek counsel. – In prayer we shrug off the burdens of the world.

20

One day … the bishop told (Francis): It seems to me that your life is very rough and hard … The saint of God answered: Lord, if we had possessions, we would need arms to protect them because they cause many disputes and lawsuits,.  And possessions usually impede the love of God and neighbor. Therefore, we do not want to possess anything in this world. – There will be a shrinking from the blessed sacrament whenever there is not a good spiritual attitude in the soul.

21

Calling together his six brothers in the woods next to Saint Mary of the Portiuncula … (Francis) told them: My dear brothers, let us consider our calling because God has mercifully called us not only for our own good but also for the salvation of many… – When we are used to seeing his divinity through the species of bread, then we will be better at seeing the image of God in people.

22

(Francis told his brothers) Let us go through the world encouraging and teaching men and women by word and example to do penance for their sins and to remember the Lord’s commandments, which they have forgotten for such a long time … – God does not abandon us; he makes us according to his liking, whatever it happens to be. We are not abandoned.

23

He also told them: Do not be afraid, little flock, but have confidence in the Lord.  And do not say among yourselves ’We are simple and illiterate men …’ But be mindful of the Lord’s words to his disciples: ’You yourselves will not be the speakers; the Spirit of your Father will speaking in you’. – The world we live in is the battleground of the church.

24

These devout servants of the Lord … seemed to differ from all others … When they entered a city, town or a home, they would announce peace.  Whenever they saw men or women on the streets or in the piazzas … they would encourage them to fear and love the Creator of heaven and earth … – We live in a world that challenges us. Our summons is to resist the current that carries so many downstream.

25

Some asked them: Where do you come from?  While others asked: To which Order do you belong? They answered simply: We are penitents and we were born in Assisi. – As with Gideon, God is thinning our ranks now as then, because we are preparing for a stronger and more holy church.

26

(The brothers) suffered all these things with constancy and patience …When people saw them rejoicing in their tribulations and enduring them patiently for the Lord, unceasing in very devout prayer, neither accepting nor carrying money…possessing such a great love for one another … many of them, by the kindness of the Lord, experienced a change of heart. – The Holy Spirit always works through minorities, never through majorities.

27

They were rooted and founded in love and humility … They all dedicated themselves wholeheartedly to obedience … They abstained from carnal desires and, in order to avoid being judged, they judged themselves carefully … They sought to combat each vice with a corresponding virtue. – We draw strength from our suffering sisters and brothers.

28

(Francis) used to revere prelates and priests of the holy Church.  He would respect the elderly, and honored the noble and the wealthy.  He loved the poor intimately and showed compassion to them.  In a word, he showed himself to be subject to all. – We must realize in minds and hearts that the only argument left to convince others is holiness.

29

If any brother … experienced … some kind of trial, the temptation would go away either on hearing blessed Francis … or on seeing his presence.  For he spoke to them compassionately, not as a judge, but as a father to his children and a doctor to his patient … – The world has heard every other argument, and it is ready to reject them all, all except one: holiness.

30

He carried God in his heart, praised Him with his lips, and glorified Him with his deeds … Wanting to show the love He had for him, the Lord impressed on his members and his side the stigmata of His most beloved Son … – Does the crucifix mean anything to us? Or do we look for Christ without the cross?

31

Meditate earnestly on the things recorded … understand them correctly, and strive in deed to fulfill them, so we may deserve to share with them in the glory of heaven. May our Lord Jesus Christ lead us to this glory. – Drawing closer to the light of Christ, our fears are gone, remorse is swallowed up in the intense love of Christ.

 

 

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

June 2020

 

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

Holy and just Father, Lord King of heaven and earth

we thank You for Yourself, for through Your holy will

and through Your only Son with the holy Spirit

You have created everything spiritual and corporal

… making us in Your own image and likeness…

We thank You.

 

Excerpts from Later Exhortation to the Brothers and Sisters of Penance.

 

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

1

Brother Francis, their servant and subject, sends esteem and reverence, true peace from heaven and sincere love in the Lord to all Christian religious people: clergy and laity, men and women, and to all who live in the whole world. – When you come to Christ, Christianity demands the personal, intimate bond. We have to be one with him and reflect the person, mind, will, heart and humanity of Christ.

2

Because I am the servant of all, I am obliged to serve all and to administer the fragrant words of my Lord to them.

Therefore, realizing that I could not visit each one of you personally because of sickness and the weakness of my body, I decided to offer you in this letter and message the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who is the Word of the Father, and the words of the Holy Spirit, which are spirit and life. – Faith is not the will to believe; it is the acceptance of truth based on the authority of God’s revelation.

3

The most high Father made known from heaven through His holy angel Gabriel this Word of the Father—so worthy, so holy and glorious—in the womb of the holy and glorious Virgin Mary, from whose womb He received the flesh of our humanity and frailty. – Reconciliation is inseparable from the death of Christ. We never have reconciliation without the passion, death, and resurrection of our Lord.

4

Though He was rich, He wished, together with the most Blessed Virgin, His mother, to choose poverty in the world beyond all else. – Because of sin, we all need a fresh start.

5

And as His Passion was near, He celebrated the Passover with His disciples and, taking bread, gave thanks, blessed and broke it, saying: Take and eat: This is My Body. – Let there be less of me and more of Christ.

6

And taking the cup He said: This is My Blood of the New Covenant which will be poured out for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins. – The more ego there is, the less there is of Christ.

7

Then He prayed to His Father, saying: Father, if it can be done, let this cup pass from me. And His sweat became as drops of blood falling on the ground. Nevertheless, He placed His will in the will of His Father, saying: Father, let Your will be done; not as I will, but as You will. –The more we are Christ, the more he can use us.

8

His Father’s will was such that His blessed and glorious Son, Whom He gave to us and Who was born for us, should offer Himself through His own blood as a sacrifice and oblation on the altar of the cross: not for Himself through Whom all things were made, but for our sins, leaving us an example that we might follow His footprints. –  Christ does not open doors and give us opportunities, until we are flexible in his hands, obedient like a pencil in his hands.

9

And He wishes all of us to be saved through Him and receive Him with our heart pure and our body chaste. But, even though His yoke is easy and His burden light, there are few who wish to receive Him and be saved through Him. – Nothing in all the world is worth a moment of time except to know more of him.

10

Those who do not wish to taste how sweet the Lord is and who love the darkness more than the light, not wishing to fulfill God’s commands, are cursed; it is said of them by the prophet: Cursed are those who stray from your commands. – Christ wants us to be available so that he can display his power through us, his truth through us.

11

But how happy and blessed are those who love God and do as the Lord Himself says in the Gospel: You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself. – The Christian is another Jesus.

12

Let us love God, therefore, and adore Him with a pure heart and a pure mind, because He Who seeks this above all things has said: True adorers adore the Father in Spirit and Truth. For all who adore Him must adore Him in the Spirit of truth. – When Christ becomes the rule of life, then his life becomes ours.

13

And day and night let us direct praises and prayers to Him, saying: Our Father, Who art in heaven . . . for we should pray always and not become weary. We must, of course, confess all our sins to a priest and receive the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ from him. –Conscience can never be covered up; guilt will always come out.

14

Whoever does not eat His flesh and drink His blood cannot enter the kingdom of God. But let him eat and drink worthily because anyone who receives unworthily, not distinguishing, that is, not discerning, the Body of the Lord, eats and drinks judgment on himself. – Conscience bothers us when it is not where it is supposed to be.

15

In addition, let us produce worthy fruits of penance. And let us love our neighbors as ourselves. And if anyone does not want to love them as himself, let him at least not do them any harm, but let him do good. – Every atheist is afraid of the dark. You don’t find atheists in foxholes.

16

Let whoever has received the power of judging others pass judgment with mercy, as they would wish to receive mercy from the Lord. Judgment will be without mercy for those who have not shown mercy. – It is not man who is on the quest for God. It is God who is on the quest for man.

17

Let us, therefore, have charity and humility and give alms because it washes the stains of our sins from our souls. For, although people lose everything they leave behind in this world, they, nevertheless, carry with them the rewards of charity and the alms they have given for which they will receive a reward and a fitting repayment from the Lord. – We need to fall in love with the Lord.

18

We must also fast and abstain from vices and sins and from an excess of food and drink and be Catholics. We must also frequently visit churches and venerate and revere the clergy not so much for themselves, if they are sinners, but because of their office and administration of the most holy Body and Blood of Christ which they sacrifice upon the altar, receive and administer to others. – When we love the Lord, we want to be one with him. That is love’s first effect.

19

And let all of us know for certain that no one can be saved except through the holy words and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ which the clergy pronounce, proclaim and minister. And they alone must minister and not others. – In prayer we shrug off the burdens of the world.

20

Religious, however, who have left the world, are bound to do more and greater things, but not to overlook these. We must hate our bodies with their vices and sins because the Lord says in the Gospel: All evils, vices and sins come from the heart. We must love our enemies and do good to those who hate us. We must observe the commands and counsels of our Lord Jesus Christ. – There will be a shrinking from the Blessed Sacrament whenever there is not a good spiritual attitude in the soul.

21

We must also deny ourselves and place our bodies under the yoke of servitude and holy obedience as each one has promised to the Lord. And let no one be bound to obey another in anything in which a crime or sin would be committed. – When we are used to seeing his divinity through the species of bread, then we will be better at seeing the image of God in people.

22

Instead, let the one to whom obedience has been entrusted and who is considered the greater be the lesser and the servant of the other brothers. And let him have and show mercy to each of his brothers as he would want them to do to him, were he in a similar position. – God does not abandon us; he makes us according to his liking, whatever it happens to be. We are not abandoned.

23

Let him not become angry at the fault of a brother but, with all patience and humility, let him admonish and support him. We must not be wise and prudent according to the flesh, but, instead, we must be simple, humble and pure. – The world we live in is the battleground of the church.

24

And let us hold our bodies in scorn and contempt because, through our own fault, we are all wretched and corrupt, disgusting and worms, as the Lord says through the prophet: I am a worm and not a man, the scorn of men and the outcast of the people. – We live in a world that challenges us.  Our summons is to resist the current that carries so many downstream.

25

We must never desire to be above others, but, instead, we must be servants and subject to every human creature for God’s sake. And the Spirit of the Lord will rest upon all those men and women who have done and persevered in these things and It will make a home and dwelling place in them. – As with Gideon, God is thinning our ranks now as then, because we are preparing for a stronger and more holy church.

26

And they will be the children of their heavenly Father, Whose works they do. And they are spouses, brothers and mothers of our Lord Jesus Christ. – The Holy Spirit always works through minorities, never through majorities.

27

We are spouses when the faithful soul is united by the Holy Spirit to our Lord Jesus Christ. We are brothers, moreover, when we do the will of His Father Who is in heaven; mothers when we carry Him in our heart and body through love and a pure and sincere conscience; and give Him birth through a holy activity, which must shine before others by example. – We draw strength from our suffering brothers and sisters.

28

O how glorious and holy and great to have a Father in heaven! O how holy, consoling, beautiful and wonderful to have such a Spouse! – We must realize in minds and hearts that the only argument left to convince others is holiness.

29

O how holy and how loving, gratifying, humbling, peace-giving, sweet, worthy of love, and above all things desirable it is to have such a Brother and such a Son: our Lord Jesus Christ, Who laid down His life for His sheep and prayed to His Father, saying: Holy Father, save in your name those whom you have given me. –  Does the crucifix mean anything to us? Or do we look for Christ without the cross?

30

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 – Drawing closer to the light of Christ, our fears are gone, remorse is swallowed up in the intense love of Christ.

 

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

May 2020

 

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

and the one chosen by the most holy Father in heaven

whom He consecrated with His most holy beloved Son

and with the Holy Spirit the Paraclete,

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

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

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

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

are poured into the hearts of the faithful so that from

their faithless state you may make them faithful to God.

(Salutation of the Blessed Virgin)

 

(below: first quote from Franciscan sources – second quote from various spiritual writers)

1

It was not that he was a man who prayed, than he himself was a living prayer. (2 Celano,chpt.95) – Abraham hoped everything would stay put, but he left everything and everyone on God’s word and traveled into the unknown.

2

His sure harbor was prayer not for a moment, but profoundly devout, humble and prolonged as much as possible.  If he began at night, with difficulty he ended his prayer in the morning. (1 Celano,chpt.71) – Like Abraham, we are sustained by not simply a promise, but by the Promise of God which was fleshed out in Jesus.

3

Often, almost daily, he withdrew secretly to pray.  He was inclined to do so by that same tenderness he had tasted  earlier, which now visited him ever more frequently, driving him to prayer in the piazza and in other public places. (Three Companions,chpt.3)  – Moses longed to see his dreams completed and stopped short of the land he was allowed to see but not enter.

4

Francis, totally unaware of earthly desires through love of Christ, strove to keep his spirit present to God by praying without ceasing lest he be without them consolation of the Beloved. (Major Legend,chpt.10) – It was enough for Moses to be given evidence of the future to die fulfilled and in peace.

5

The man of God gathered with his companions. They spent their time praying incessantly, directing their efforts mentally rather than vocally to devoted prayers, because they did have liturgical books from which to chant the canonical hours. (Major Legend,chpt.4) – Joseph, in spite of the rough breaks he had experienced since being sold by his brothers, refused to quit.

6

Let all the brothers always strive to exert themselves in doing good works. Servants of God, therefore, must always apply themselves to prayer or some good work. (Earlier Rule,chpt.7) – God intends you to be the person on whom He has conferred a unique “personhood”. God has committed Himself to you. Agree to do the same to Him.

7

Let us always make a home and a dwelling place for Him Who is the Lord God Almighty, father, Son and Holy Spirit, Who says: Be vigilant at all times and pray that you have the strength to escape the tribulations that are imminent. When you stand to pray say: Our Father in heaven. (Earlier Rule,chpt.22) – David wanted to build a monument to God but had to prepare the material for another to build.

8

Those brothers to whom the Lord has given the grace of working may work faithfully and devotedly so that, while avoiding idleness, the enemy of the soul, they do not extinguish the Spirit of holy prayer and devotion to which all temporal things must contribute. (Later Rule,chpt.5) – You who are meant to be part of God’s family,  are one of the community of the Crucified One; you too must crucify self and forget ego trips. Trust Him!

9

I admonish and exhort the brothers in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ to pay attention to what they must desire above all else: to have the Spirit of the Lord and Its holy activity, to pray always to Him with a pure heart, to have humility and patience in persecution and infirmity. (Later Rule,chpt.10) – Elijah was so demoralized he wanted to give up, but God knew the inner strength of Elijah and gave him a firm >no=.

10

I am pleased that you teach sacred theology to the brothers providing that, as is contained in the Rule, you do not extinguish the Spirit of prayer and devotion, during study of this kind. (Letter to St. Anthony) – There is no permanent retirement for a Christian, only temporary respites from time to time to rest and reequip.

11

Francis 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, and 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,chpt.73) – Jonah tried to run away from God’s Will and acceptance of his responsibilities, but he could not run from God.

12

He said that (ministers of the word of God) were heralds chosen by a great king. For he used to say: 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) – God still replies in the negative to those who claim a special relationship, but try to escape from responsibilities, or fall into a narrow, self-centered outlook.

13

(Description of General Minister) He must be a committed friend of holy prayer, who can distribute some hours for his soul and others for the flock entrusted to him. (2Celano,chpt.139) – Job questioned God and demanded answers, but God gave him no answers; His questions were more profound and penetrating.

14

They never or hardly ever stopped praying and praising God. They gave thanks to God for the good done. They would have thought themselves abandoned by God if they did not experience in their ordinary prayers that they were constantly visited by the spirit of devotion. (1Celano,chpt.15) – We present-day Jobs also are promised God’s sufficiency. He gives more than answers. He shares His life with us.

15

They were so devoted to prayer that there was no hour of the night that someone could not be found at prayer in the oratory. (Thomas Eccleston,#27) – The God who has committed Himself to us insists on a like-minded commitment.

16

The brothers at that time begged him to teach them how to pray, because, walking in simplicity of spirit, up to that time they did not know.  (1Celano,chpt.17) – The “covenanting” God has given His word to us that He will not desert us.  That promise has been sealed in blood – literally!

17

He implored divine clemency to show him what he had to do. (Major Legend,chpt.1) – The cross has been so sentimentalized by so many generations of songwriters and preachers that it no longer has any sting.

18

He had recourse to prayer that he might insistently implore what the will of God was regarding some specific matter. (Major Legend,1) – You have been given the gift of living and dying just one death. You may lay down your e energies, your time, and your goods for others, or you may stockpile self until it crushes you.

19

Fasting and weeping, he earnestly prayed for the savior’s mercy, and lacking confidence in his own efforts, he cast his care upon the Lord. (1Celano,chpt.5) – Time does not necessarily heal all wounds; sometimes it merely covers them with scar tissue.

20

Foreseeing the great things that God would do through him and his Order, he was calling and praying to God that, by his mercy and omnipotence, without which human frailty can do nothing, he should supply, help, and fulfill that which he could not do by himself. (Little Flowers,chpt.2) – Jesus has called “friend” the one we would label “enemy”; He pronounces them subjects of concern rather than objects of contempt.

21

Francis said: Wait for me a bit, because I first want to pray to God that He make our journey fruitful, that Christ, by virtue of His most holy passion, be pleased to give us poor and weak men this noble prey that we are  planning to take from the world. (Little Flowers,chpt.37) – Peter tried to bury his guilt of denial and grief of loss in work; he could not forget or conceal in activity his “failure”.

22

He saw St. Francis devoutly at prayer before Christ, who had appeared to him during that prayer and was in front of him. He saw Francis lifted up bodily from the earth.  Because of this he was touched by God and inspired to leave the world. (Little Flowers,chpt.37) –The Resurrection is God’s mighty “no” to depression and death.

23

He never ceased crying out to God with humble prayers and fervent affection, that God would protect the Order and grant salvation to all the friars, present and future. (Angelo Clareno) – A beggar pleaded for a handout and was given a hand up. God gives us His gifts that we may learn to help ourselves.

24

As blessed Francis got up, he joined his hands and, lifting his eyes to heaven, said: Lord, I give back to You the family which until now you have entrusted to me. (2Celano,chpt.104) – We carry the name “Christian” and stand strong in its meaning.

25

Once while his vicar was holding a chapter, he was praying in his cell, as the go-between and mediator between his brothers and God. (Major Legend,chpt.11) – Paul begged for healing and was given a thorn in the flesh, and a reminder that “my strength is sufficient”.

26

After I resigned my office among the brothers because of my illnesses, I am not bound at all except to pray for the religion and to show good example. The greatest help I can render to the religion is to spend time everyday in prayer to the Lord for it.  (Mirror,#81) – St. Teresa: Lord when will you cease to strew our path with obstacles? And the Lord: Don’t complain, this is how I treat my friends.  St. Teresa: Dear Lord, that is why You have so few.

27

The abbot of the monastery of San Giustino happened to meet Saint Francis. He humbly asked him to pray for him, and Saint Francis replied: My Lord, I will willingly pray. When the abbot had ridden away, he said to the brother with him: Wait for me a little while, brother, for I want to pay the debt I promised. (2Celano,chpt.117) – There is a certain enjoyment of unpleasant places when the challenges they offer help us to grow.

28

A pilgrim while in the body, away from the Lord, Francis, man of God, strove to keep himself present in spirit to heaven. With all his soul he thirsted for his Christ. We will tell about the wonders of his prayer, things that we have seen with our own eyes. (2Celano,chpt.61) – The all-powerful Lord turns even the causes of our curses into good.

29

He found (Greccio) rich in poverty and there, in a remote little cell on a cliff, he could give himself freely to heavenly things.  (2Celano,chpt.7) – Jesus is not a “departed hero”, a “deceased leader”, but the living Lord, Who does not leave us to fend for ourselves.

30

Brother Body should be cared for with discernment so it won’t get weary keeping vigil and staying fervently at prayer. (2Celano,chpt.92) – At the time when the outlook seems most bleak and pessimistic, God frequently opens new doors.  Sometimes, God seemingly allows roadblocks because He has bigger plans for us.

31

When he returned from his private prayers, in which he was changed almost into a different man, he tried his best to resemble the others, lest, if he appeared glowing, the breeze of favor might cancel what he had gained. (2Celano,chpt.65) – “Help” signals often are hard to pick up. God, however, patiently waits for us to be sensitive enough to detect those signs and signals from others.

 

 

 

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.