September 2022 Thoughts for the Day by Father Francis Sariego, OFM Cap

September 2022 

 

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. 

 

The following excerpts for the days of the month are taken from 

 

The Book of Praises 

 

Chapter VII 

THE THREE ORDERS 

1

Francis’s teaching produced fruit especially in the three Orders that he established. The first is the Order of Lesser Brothers whose purpose is to serve the Lord according to the Gospel in poverty and humility, and to preach penitence. Innumerable signs in the professed testify that this is acceptable to God, Who is capable of recounting with how many miraculous signs in and through them the Lord embellished this state! – Do not pray for easy lives. Pray to be stronger.

2

I will come, however, to the visions, to the expressed callings or few revelations that faithful people now drop from memory. Through these the Lord deigned to demonstrate very plainly the perfection of this way of life. Father Brother Haymo, former general minister of holy memory, told of a prelate in England who, while taken up in a vision to the heavenly mansions, saw no Lesser Brothers there among the other religious. – Do not pray for tasks equal to your powers. Pray for powers equal to your tasks.

3

While he was wondering about this, the most beautiful of ladies, the most blessed Mother of God, came to him and asked what he was turning over in his mind. When the Bishop told her that he was wondering why he saw in that blessedness no Lesser Brothers, whom the Church Militant esteemed so highly, the Blessed Mother responded: “Come with me and I will show you where they are staying.” – The greatest gift you can do for another is to reveal to him/her their own riches.

4

She showed him brothers who were joined to Christ on intimate terms. “See,” she said, “they are under the wings of the Judge. Save your soul with them.” The Bishop, considering the grace of the vision and on the salutary counsel of the Mother of God, entered the Order of Lesser Brothers with the approval of lord Pope Gregory IX. Some religious are said to have been shown under the mantle of the Blessed Virgin. Thus, the Mother of God herself showed brothers to be under the protection of the wings of the Son of God, each like those of the two Cherubim. – The path to light is often through sin.

5

That prelate is believed to have been Ralph whose entry into the Order has been established; he was a Master of Theology and the Bishop of Hereford. Besides him, there were two other Ralphs, both doctors of theology, one of whom entered the Order at Paris in this way. One time while he was studying, he fell asleep at his book. – Be tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, and tolerant with the weak and wrong. Sometime in life, you have been all of these.

6

The devil appeared to him and threatened to take away his sight: “I will blind you with dung.” He woke up but fell asleep again, when the devil again appeared to him and repeated the same words. He drove him away by putting his fingers to his eyes. “You will not blind me,” he said, “I will blind you.” – Children have never been good at listening to their elders, but they’ve never failed to imitate them.

7

On the following day, while he was sitting in the professor’s chair, he received from England a thick letter from a bishop offering him revenue. Interpreting the money as the dung with which the devil wanted to blind him, he entered the Order of Lesser Brothers, scorning everything. – We will change the world only when we have changed ourselves.

8

Some time ago, I was traveling with the then celebrated general minister throughout parts of Germany and Flanders. After many years I again had another meal with the brothers, one of whom had been a canon, a very venerable man, and who had been led to enter the Order by means of a remarkable cure and a vision.- When you’re through changing, you’re through.

9

Perhaps I do not remember all the circumstances after what is now a long time, but I have no doubt about the entry and the cure of the person. I relate the probable fact just as I recall it. That canon was also a noble and respected person, who feared God and had a special devotion to the virgin saint, Euphemia. Although he was, at that time, weak and advanced in age, yet he was concerned about the salvation of his soul which was accustomed to being jeopardized by his wealth. – Be still and know that I am God.

10

While wishing to put his hand to more heroic deeds, he desired to be shown the path of salvation, according to the words of the Prophet: Your ways, O Lord, make known to me; teach me your paths. Show me the way in which I should walk, for to you I lift up my soul. – Salvation is something that happens within you.

11

Through that virgin whom he had taken as his advocate, he begged with continual supplication to be directed to a state suitable for his salvation. Finally, the Lord poured into his heart to renounce the world completely in the Order of Saint Francis. – Salvation is the transformation of a life attitude.

12

He was sick, however, and had an ugly tumor on his throat. Because of this, the minister of the brothers delayed receiving him and, as cautiously as he could, he withdrew from his intention. He recommended his state as honorable, wholesome, fruitful, one that was capable of doing good works for many persons. While he recognized the dismissal, and was deeply saddened because of it, he once more gave himself to prayer, and then fell into a light sleep. – If you want God to listen to you when you pray, shouldn’t you listen to God when God speaks to you?

13

Then blessed Euphemia, to whom he was devoted, appeared to him in a vision with a brilliant company of virgins, and urged his entrance into the Order of Lesser Brothers, removed the obstacle to his reception by curing him, and gave him an unequivocal sign that he could easily endure the Order. “Let this be a sign for you,” she said, “that I am curing you of all infirmity.” – We die on the day when we cease to be illumined by the steady radiance of a wonder, the source of which is beyond reason.

14

Soon after the place of the swelling opened and every bit of that tumor was expelled, she closed the place of the tumor by the touch of her hand, and perfectly restored the man to complete health. When he awoke, that lord found himself perfectly cured. – If we are not rising to be angels, depend on it, we are sinking to be devils.

15

And he was received to vows in the Order, and he was transformed there in a most holy way. He is said to have grown in such virtue before the Lord that, impeded neither by age nor by usual weaknesses, he easily endured the hardships of the Order, and could travel longer on foot than he had been accustomed to do on horseback. – Though we as yet are not what we ought to be, we must be thankful that we are not what we used to be.

16

The most illustrious emperor of Constantinople, Jean, was advised by a divine revelation to take the habit of blessed Francis. Some claim that he alone was left without a court was left to his fraternal peers, and that he was destined for the Knight Templars or Hospitallers. – A rose is merely the evidence of the vitality of the root.

17

Since he was a young man, as noble in birth as he was conspicuous in behavior, he attained, with the help of God, the dignity of the kingdom of Jerusalem, and then to that of the Empire. He was renowned for many honors, since his son-in-law was the Roman Emperor. He was a very great defender of the true faith and an adversary of non-believers. – Thank God that your prayers have not all been answered.

18

Towards the end of his life, when he was seriously reflecting on how many gifts God had bestowed on him during his life, the greatest desire was sent to him from heaven, some believe, to know beforehand what kind of death he would have. He remained for some time with this desire and, because of it, persisted in his constant supplication of God. – When we go forth seeking God, we find that God is seeking us.

19

One night while he was sleeping, a dignified man appeared to him dressed in white, carrying in his hands the habit, cord, and sandals of the Lesser Brothers. “John,” the man said, calling the emperor by name, “since you anxiously desire to know the manner of your death, you should know that you will die in this habit and that this is the will of God.” The emperor, awake and terrified at such a future humiliation that, according to the man, was his, aroused with a scream those who by royal custom rested near him. When they came running, however, he would not reveal the reason for his cry. – The process of character goes from thoughts that become words that become actions that become our character.

20

The following night two men similarly dressed in white appeared to him in his sleep, carrying the same habit, cord and sandals and repeating that it was the divine will that he should die in that habit. Just as before, his spirit shuddered and, awake, he shouted but, again, he would not reveal the reason to those running to him from their beds. – Before thinking of changing others, strive to change yourself.

21

The third night three men likewise appeared to him in a vision, dressed in white like the others, carrying the same habit, cord, and sandals, and, as before, repeating that his passing would be in them. They added: “Do not believe that this is an illusion or an empty dream. What we say will truly be fulfilled.” The disturbed emperor ordered that his confessor, Brother Angelo, be called immediately. When he arrived, he found the emperor in bed, weeping. – Conscience is the walkie-talkie by which God speaks to us.

22

He said to him: “I know why you have called me. The same vision which you had was revealed to me.” After a few days a tertian fever gripped the emperor and, with full deliberation, he entered the Order and happily finished his days there according to the vision’s intent. But while he was still living, he was impeded by the gravity of his infirmity and debility from exercising the usual duties of humility in the Order. – Be conscious of human weakness, but be confident that it can be overcome.

23

He is said to have expressed his soul in a memorable passage: “O my most sweet Lord, Jesus Christ, would that I who have lived elegantly in the pomp of the world, clothed in priceless garments, could, as a truly poor and humble man, follow you, who are poor and humble, by seeking alms in this habit with a sack hanging from my neck!” – The most important person to be honest with is yourself.

24

In this a very excellent man left us a very great example, that neither the great nor the ordinary nor much less others would be ashamed of what pertains to poverty and humility. He achieved in this vow what nobles usually win for themselves in this Order, that is, to be more humble, more gentle and more simple. Indeed, the sobriety of gentleness and humility is a distinguishing mark of nobility. – The test of courage comes when we are in the minority.

25

Grace often ennobles the ignoble, and the fault of pride or sloth makes the noble ignoble. What is more worthless than for a noble to become a boor? Not to be shunned are the lowest in birth, to whom it has been given to serve the Lord as a knight; there is nothing greater than to be a knight of Christ. But let me continue what I have begun. – The test of tolerance comes when we are in the majority.

26

Brother William of happy memory, former minister of Aquitaine, related that there was a man, once a master in the city of Chartres, bound by a vow to enter the Order of Lesser Brothers. He missed the time, however, determined by brothers for entering the Order. While he was playing checkers outside in front of the Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary, he suddenly lost his sight. When he realized this, he overturned the game with his hand so that the bystanders would notice it. Then calling a boy, putting his hand on his shoulder, he entered the church where, prostrate before the altar of the Virgin, he promised the Mother of God with tears and devotion that, should she restore his sight, he would enter the Order of Lesser Brothers without delay. – The greatest treason is to do the right thing for the wrong reason.

27

When he recovered his sight, he came to the brothers and named the day when he would enter the Order. But once again he went back on his word. He was again playing checkers in the same place as before, and again was made blind. He entered the church as before, and, after many tears, he made a promise to the Blessed Virgin that, if he regained his sight, he would no longer put off entering the Order. At last, he recovered his vision, but not as quickly as the first time. Nevertheless, once again he lied by neglecting and delaying his promise of entering the Order. A third time he became blind as before, entered the church as before, and wept very devoutly before the altar of the Mother of God. Once more, after he repeated his promise to enter the Order, he regained his sight, although even more slowly. – The greatest tragedy is not the clamor of bad people, but the appalling silence of good people.

28

Seeing that out of necessity he would have to fulfill his vow that had been proven by so many tests to be pleasing to God and the blessed Virgin, he told the brothers all that had happened to him, and entered the Order according to his promise. After his entrance into the Order, he did not entirely put off the old man, and did not want to follow the common life of the Order. Under the pretext of need, he wanted to wear shoes at all times, to eat in the infirmary, and always to sleep on a mattress. During the winter, he hurried to the kitchen to warm himself after Mass. – If at first you don’t succeed, you are running about average.

29

The brothers tolerated his living as one of the sick for almost two years—not without great dislike, especially since he had been an honorable person in the world. One night Saint Francis appeared to him in a vision and said to him: “My son, carry me a little while.” But the brother refused: “I cannot carry you,” he said. “You are a large and heavy person, while I am weak and feeble.” But since the saint asked to be carried by him just the same, grabbing his shins, he dragged the saint’s head on the ground. Blessed Francis cried out: “You’re hurting me, you’re hurting me! You’re carrying me poorly.” “I can’t carry you any other way,” he replied. The saint complained loudly that he was dragged in this way. – People more frequently require to be reminded than informed.

30

The next morning after Mass, he entered the kitchen as usual, and there told of his dream. A discerning brother listening to this said to him: “It is as you have seen. For you do hurt and carry blessed Francis poorly, that is, his Order which you are dragging through the dirt because of the worldly and degrading life you lead by living excessively and according to the flesh.” When he heard the brother’s interpretation of the dream and knew it was true, he took it to heart. He took off his fur cloak and shoes, and lost interest in the infirmary and the feather bed. Instead, taking up the common life of the Order that he had neglected, he turned into another man, completely spiritual and religious, and later became an outstanding preacher. – God is more anxious to communicate with us than we are to listen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

August 2022 Thoughts for the Day by Father Francis Sariego, OFMCap

August 2022 

 

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

so that, through the prayers and merits of the 

holy and glorious Virgin Mary, His Mother, 

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

the Lord Himself, Who has given a good beginning, 

may give increase and may also give final perseverance. 

Amen. 

 

(The Testament of St. Clare of Assisi)

 

The daily excerpts continue from the Book of Praises 

 

Chapter IV 

POVERTY 

1

Among other characteristics, Francis’s zeal to observe poverty and humility and to be continually engaged with virtuous things was unusual. He rejoiced in poor little dwellings, in cells of wood rather than of stone. – The person with true humility never has to be shown his place, he is always in it. 

2

 He often stayed with a few in hermitages, where an enclosure of thorn bushes sufficed for a wall, and small huts for dwellings. In cities, however, neither people’s maliciousness nor the large number of brothers allowed it to be so. – Turn to the Lord and pray to Him know that He is near.

 3

He detested a brother with a great deal of clothes, made of refined, soft cloth. Two layers of clothing do not seem to belong to a poor man, since expenses are reduced by clothing that is old and mended. While cheap cloth is certainly rougher, heavier, and less warm, the pious purpose of religion demands this, and, with use, difficulty is easily overcome by grace. – It was not the nails that held Jesus on the cross but His love for us.

4

Whoever was forced by necessity to wear a softer inner tunic, he would support, as long as rough and cheap clothing was kept on the outside, for we have been given to people as an example of poverty and penitence. – Life is short! Hurry and be kind.

5

As for “necessity” not based on reason but on pleasure, he declared that it was a sign of a spirit that was extinguished. “Not bearing patiently with need,” he said, “is the same as returning to Egypt.” – When you try to make an impression that is the impression you make.

6

He wanted few books kept, ones not notable for elegance or expense, and available to the brothers who needed them. He did not want the brothers to have money or handle it even out of consideration of piety. – Prepare for eternity. You’re going to spend a long time there.

7

Therefore, with a remarkable chastening, he punished a brother whom he once found touching a coin. Even though his companion and the saint’s word forbade it, another brother took a coin he found carelessly left on the road, and wanted to give it to the lepers. He immediately gnashed his teeth and lost the power of speech. At last, he threw away the coin, and his penitential lips were set free to give praise – If it’s going to be, it’s up to me.

8

In order to avoid the superfluous, the holy man would not even permit a small plate to remain in the house if, without it, he could avoid dire need. He said it was impossible to satisfy necessity without bowing to pleasure. – The dictionary is the only place that success comes before work.

9

He depended on the divine foresight according to the word he spoke to the Lord Pope who argued that it was difficult to live without possessions. “My Lord, I trust in my Lord Jesus Christ. Since he has promised to give us life and glory in heaven, He will not deprive us of our bodily necessities when we need them on earth.” – Hard work is the price we pay for success.

10

Proposing a parable to him, he said: “There once was a king who contracted marriage with a poor but beautiful woman. While he married her because of her beauty, he fathered by her very handsome sons. As adults, they were sent to the king by their mother that he would take care of them. When the king recognized that they looked like him, he embraced them as his sons. And he said: ‘You are sons and heirs. Do not be afraid! If strangers are fed at my table, I feed those to whom by right an inheritance is due. The brothers are Christ’s poor and the sons of a poor religion.’ ” – You can accomplish almost anything if you are willing to pay the price (salvation?!) 

11

He was well aware that the Lord cared for him even in the smallest matters. When he was weak from a very serious illness, while returning from Spain, on the way he told Brother Bernard that he would have eaten a bit of a bird if he had one. Just then someone came riding across the field carrying an exquisite bird and said to him: “Servant of God, take what divine mercy sends you.”  Accepting it, he blessed Christ for everything, seeing how He cared for him. – Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls.

12

He did not want to be involved with the world through temporal things. When the Bishop of Assisi told him that to possess nothing in this world seemed to be a very rough life, he responded: “Lord, if we had any possessions, we would need to have arms to protect them, because they cause many disputes and lawsuits. Possessions usually impede the love of God and neighbor.”- Be careful how you live. You may be the only Bible some person ever reads.

13

He would frequently say: “As far as the brothers will withdraw from poverty, that far will the world withdraw from them. They owe the world an example, and the world owes the food they need. When the brothers withdraw good example, the world withdraws from them its support.”- What is important in prayer is not to think much but to love much.

 14

Concerned about poverty, the man of God feared large numbers and he used to say: “Oh, if it were possible, I wish the world would only rarely get to see Lesser Brothers, and should be surprised at their small number!”- Let your light shine before all.

 15

He wanted the brothers to be content with a few things, and not to possess these few things, whether places or things, as their own. He wanted to own nothing so that he could possess everything more fully in the Lord. – Some people spend their time trying to put out the lights of others.

Chapter V 

HUMILITY 

16

With the greatest zeal he cultivated poverty’s companion, the virtue of humility. Because of this he wanted the brothers to be clothed in a humble habit, girt with a rope, to be called Lesser Brothers, and never to be exalted in this world. – We can’t always trust what we hear with our ears but we can always trust what we hear with our heart. 

17

When he was asked by the Lord of Ostia about promoting his brothers to ecclesiastical dignities, he would in no way consent, but replied they should be kept in humility. – We are our choices.

18

Blessed Dominic was also present and likewise opposed the promotion of his brothers. He clung to Blessed Francis by such devotion that he most devotedly wore under his inner tunic a cord which he had given him, said that he wished that Francis’s religion and his own could be one, and stated that he should be imitated for his holiness by other religious. – Lord, help me not only to hear your word but to put it into practice.

19

Oh, how this humility and mutual charity of their Fathers must be imitated by their sons! Truly, it would be profitable to them and to God’s Church. – Lord, help me not only to love your word but to live it.

20

He wanted such great deference shown to prelates and priests that, because of reverence for their dignity and spiritual power, the brothers would consider not only their hands but also their feet worthy of being kissed.- As we are merciful to others so will mercy be shown to us.

21

He used to say: “We have been sent to help clerics for the salvation of souls  so that we may make up whatever may be lacking in them.- Anger is the wind that blows out the lamp of the mind.

22

Each shall receive a reward, not on account of authority, but because of the work done. – Evangelization is one beggar telling another beggar where he found bread.

23

Know then, brothers, that the good of souls is what pleases God most, and this is more easily obtained through peace with the clergy than fighting with them. – God selects his own instruments and sometimes they are very strange ones.

24

If they should stand in the way of the people’s salvation, revenge is for God, and he will repay them in due time.” – Worry is like a rocking chair. It gives you something to do but it doesn’t get you anywhere.

25

And he would say: “Be subject to prelates so that as much as possible on your part no jealousy arises. How is it too much to be subject to superiors, when, for God’s sake, we must be subject to all human creatures?” – Make peace with who you are and you will be at peace with what you have.

26

As he thought humbly of himself, he was, in his own eyes, a great sinner, while actually he was in every way a mirror of holiness, and also a virgin in the flesh, as he revealed to that very holy man, Brother Leo, his confessor, and then disclosed to the General Minister. – Life with Christ is an endless hope, without him it is a hopeless end.

27

For as the just one is his own first accuser, while Blessed Francis accused himself in public of being the greatest of sinners, in private he never confessed the sin of bodily fornication. – When you’re through changing, you’re through.

28

His confessor was astonished, and piously wanted to know whether he was untainted in his flesh, something he could not obtain from the saint by repeated entreaty. – Affirmation empowers people to become the beautiful people God made them to be.

29

But, because he was a simple man of the greatest purity, he merited to secure from God that he was a virgin. This was revealed and shown to him by a special sign. – Insisting to see with perfect clarity before deciding is to never decide.

30

For while he was praying, he saw blessed Francis standing in a high prominent place which no one could approach and no one could touch. He was told in spirit that this indicated the prominence of the virginal purity found in blessed Francis. – The more faithfully we listen to the voice within, the better we hear what is sounding outside of us.

31

Virginal purity was fitting for flesh adorned with the sacred stigmata. If some ordinary people of the world, by the working of grace and nature, preserve the integrity of the flesh even to old age, who would wonder that Francis preserved it, when God was disposed to exalt him with such a grace? Therefore, a greatly humble man was exalted by the greatest exaltation. – Be glad and rejoice forever in what God creates.

July – 2022 Thoughts for the Day by Father Fracis Sariego, OFM Cap

July 2022 

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

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

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

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

Father, Son and Holy Spirit, 

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

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

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

sublime, most high, gentle, lovable, delightful, 

and totally desirable above all else forever. 

Amen.

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

 

 

Excerpts from: A Book of the Praises of St. Francis (1277-1283) 

 

Chapter II (continued) 

THE FORMATION OF THE FIRST DISCIPLES 

1

When the rich of the world went out of their way to visit them, they received them quickly and kindly, and would invite them to call them back from evil, and prompt them to penance. Wherever they met men on the roads or in the piazzas, the brothers would encourage them to love and to fear their Creator. – Why not let Jesus take over your life?  He can do more with it than you can.

2

They would more willingly accept hospitality among priests than among other seculars. But when they could not obtain lodging, they would inquire who in that place was God-fearing with whom they could be more suitably lodged. And although they were extremely poor, they were always generous in giving to all who asked of them, sharing the alms given to them. They so spurned earthly things that they barely accepted the most basic necessities of life. – Hate is like burning down your house to get rid of a rat.

3

They were content with a single tunic, often patched inside and out, with crude trousers, and with a piece of common rope for a belt. Nothing about it was refined, rather it appeared lowly and rough. Often, when they needed a place to stay at night, they would stay concealed in crypts or bake-ovens. During the day, those who knew how, worked in suitable places with their own hands, and would incite all who were with them to an example of humility and patience. – Without love and compassion for others, our own apparent love for Christ is fiction.

4

The virtue of patience so enveloped them that, they were often mocked and made objects of insult, beaten, stripped naked, and, not defending themselves with anyone’s protection, they endured all these things so humbly, that from their mouths came only the voice of praise and thanksgiving. 29They never or hardly ever stopped praying and praising God. Instead, in ongoing discussion, they recalled what they had done. – It is possible to give without loving, but it is impossible to love without giving.

5

They gave thanks to God for the good done and, with groans and tears, paid for what they neglected or did carelessly. 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 piety. For when they felt like dozing during prayer, they would hold themselves up with various props, so that furtive sleep would not disturb their prayer. – A person’s judgment is no better than his information.

6

If one of them took some food or drink, as normally happens out of weariness from travel or for some other reason, they punished themselves severely with many days of fasting. They strove to restrain the burning of the flesh by such harsh treatment, that they frequently did not hesitate to strip their bodies naked on ice, or to cover themselves in blood from gashing them with sharp thorns. – If we tap the best in ourselves, we will bring out the best in others.

7

They would inflict so much discomfort on themselves that it seemed they hated themselves. As they practiced peace and gentleness towards all, they avoided all scandal with the greatest zeal. 36They thought humbly about themselves, piously about others, especially about priests.- Death is not a period but a coma in the story of life.

8

When a priest told a brother: “Watch out that you’re not a hypocrite,” the brother thought that he was a hypocrite and said: “It was a priest who said it. A priest can’t lie, can he?” He was grieving, dejected and troubled, until the saint wisely excused the priest’s statement. With a remarkable zeal for silence, these brothers curbed their tongue. They hardly spoke even when necessary, nor did anything harmful or useless come out of their mouths. – One prays best who loves best.

9

All their senses were so subdued that they scarcely allowed themselves to hear or see anything except what the purpose of religion required. In them there was a simple appearance, a modest bearing, and, with their eyes fixed on the ground, their minds were set on heaven. – One is truly poor not when they have nothing but when they do nothing.

10

The saint taught them they must mortify not only the vices of the flesh, but also their exterior senses through which death enters into the soul. When the emperor Otto passed through that area with great pomp to receive the crown of the empire, the most holy father was staying with the others in that small hut next to the parade route. He did not go outside to look, and did not allow anyone else, except for one, that he might continually remind him that this glory would be only short-lived. Apostolic authority resided in him; so he altogether refused to flatter kings and princes. – For those who believe in God no explanation is needed.

11

He also used to engage carefully in a daily examination of the brothers. If he found something inappropriate was done, he did not leave it unpunished and he drove from their hearts any negligence. The brothers strove diligently to fulfill not only what he told them as by brotherly advice or by fatherly command, but also what by some sign they recognized he wanted. – For those who do not believe in God no explanation is possible.

12

To bring them to perfection, he used to say that true obedience is not just about a prelate’s word, but also about recognizing his will, and in doing what a subject perceives, by a sign, a prelate wants. In this way holy simplicity filled them, purity of life so possessed them, that they were totally ignorant of duplicity of heart. – If at first you don’t succeed, you are running about average.

13

For just as there was in them one faith, so there was one spirit, one will, one charity, continual unity of spirit, harmony in living, cultivation of virtues, agreement of minds, and piety in action. – Every survival kit should include a sense of humor.

14

These are the lessons of the devoted father by which he instructed his new sons not so much in words and speech, but in deed and in truth, and in which he renewed the purpose and zeal of an apostolic life. – Discovery consists in seeing what everyone has seen and thinking what nobody has thought.

15

To show what had been approved was approved in heaven, it was revealed in a vision to a holy man in the beginning of the novitiate that the holy Apostles Peter and Paul gave thanks to God each day for the renewal of their lives, and they were praying for the preservation of that religion. When he made this known to blessed Francis, he said: “If the blessed Peter and Paul are daily praying for us, it is only right that we venerate them daily with reverence.” – God’s grace is all we need. God’s power is greatest when we are weak.

16

Therefore, it was decided that in the remembrance of the Apostles that is made in each Hour of the Office of the Blessed Virgin, these two Apostles be mentioned by name, even though previously according to the custom of the Roman Church there was only the general mention of all the Apostles in these prayers. At this time there was added to the orations: Protect, O Lord, and: Hear us, O God the words of your Apostles, Peter and Paul, where previously it read: and of all your Apostles, etc – The more the world is at its worst, the more we need the Church at its best.

 

Chapter III 

THE SELF-EMPTYING OF BLESSED FRANCIS 

 

17

The holy man expressed great joy over the brothers’ progress, while never looking down on the sick or the tempted. – Character cannot be purchased, inherited, rented or imported from afar. It must be homegrown.

18

At one time when a tempted brother asked Francis to pray for him, the holy man said: “Believe me, son, I believe you are even more a servant of God because of this.” “No one,” he said, “should consider himself a servant of God until he has passed through temptations and tribulations. –  People are made by their beliefs.

19

A temptation overcome is like a ring with which the Lord betroths the soul of his servant. Many flatter themselves over their many years of merit and rejoice at never having suffered any temptations. But sheer fright would knock them out before a battle even started. – As we believe, so we are.

20

So they should know that the Lord has kept in mind their weakness of spirit. Hard fights are rarely fought except by those with the greatest strength.” – Salvation: Don’t leave earth without it.

21

Another brother was vexed for a long time by a temptation of the spirit, which is worse and more subtle than the prompting of the flesh. He came to Saint Francis and threw himself at his feet; overflowing with bitter tears, he could say nothing, prevented by deep sobs. The saint, however, realized that he was tormented by wicked spirits. “I command you, demons,” he said, “from this moment stop assailing my brother.” And immediately the brother became free of all temptation. – Nothing can bring you peace but yourself.

22

In this both the saint’s piety for a son and his power over demons appeared. Tempted himself, he learned to suffer with those who were sometimes tempted. – It isn’t a calamity to die with dreams unfulfilled, but it is a calamity not to dream.

23

For at times he endured a very great temptation of the flesh and, to put this temptation to flight, he would scourge himself unmercifully. But when this spirit would not depart despite the severe discipline, he would cast himself naked into the snow. It was by this chastisement of his flesh that he expelled the spiritual wound from his breast. – I am always ready to learn, although I do not always like to be taught.

24

At another time a very serious temptation of spirit came upon him, surely to embellish his crown. Because of it he was filled with anguish and sorrow; he afflicted and chastised his body, he prayed and wept bitterly. He was under attack in this way for several years, until one day while praying at Saint Mary of the Portiuncula, he heard in spirit a voice: – The future belongs to those who believe ion the beauty of their dreams.

25

“Francis, if you had faith like a mustard seed, you would tell  he mountain to move from here, and it would move.” The saint replied: “Lord, what is the mountain that I could move?” And again he heard: “The mountain is your temptation.” – The thing to try when all else fails is again.

26

And he said, sobbing: “Lord, be it done to me as you have said!” At once, after the whole temptation was driven away, he was set free. His spirit emptied itself with humility, cherishing everyone, deferring to everyone. – If we do stay in our littleness, we will lose our greatness.

27

He used to revere priests of the Church; would respect the elderly, and honored the noble and the wealthy. He loved the poor intimately, however, and, while preserving peace with people of all rank, he urged his brothers eagerly to this. He used to tell them: “As you announce peace with your mouth, may you keep it in your heart, thus no one will be provoked to anger or scandal, but rather to kindness and gentleness. – Why do we find it easier to break a commandment than a habit?

28

For we have been called to this: to cure the wounded, to bind up the broken, and to recall the erring. Many who seem to us to be members of the devil, will yet be disciples of Christ.” – Help me, Lord, to put all aside, that I may abide with You.

29

To his brothers he would speak compassionately, not as a judge, but as a father to his children and a doctor to the sick, so that the word of the Apostle might be fulfilled in him: Who is weak that I am not weaker? Great was his compassion toward the sick and great his concern for their needs. He conducted himself toward all as he would toward individuals. – God will put His angels in charge of us to protect us wherever we go.  

30

As he scrutinized with dignified honor any revered person coming to the Order and respectfully gave to each his due, he wisely considered in all matters the dignity of rank of each one. – Pray, and then start answering our prayer.

31

He was truly endowed with outstanding discernment and the grace of simplicity, so that with a true dove-like simplicity, he possessed the prudence of a serpent. – You cannot just go on being a good egg. You must either hatch or go bad.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

June, 2022, Thoughts for the Day by Father Francis Sariego, OFM Cap

June 2022 

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)

 

 

A Book of the Praises of Saint Francis (1277–1283) 

 

Chapter I  

THE CONVERSION OF SAINT FRANCIS, AND HIS FIRST DISCIPLES 

1

Blessed Francis, like the rising sun, brightened the world by his life, his teaching and his miracles. He had a father intent on worldly affairs, but a very upright mother. – Conquer evil with good.

2

Like another Elizabeth, at the sacred font she called him John, and, in spirit, she predicted that, by the grace of his merits, he would become a son of God. – People watch what we do and not what we say about our religion.

3

The boy grew and conducted himself in a worldly way by his outward manner of life until he was twenty-five years old. Then he left all things and followed the footsteps of Christ.- Prayer enlarges the heart until it can contain God’s gift of himself.

4

He renewed the old life of the Apostles by reliving their deeds, and he founded the house of his religion not on the sands of temporal things, but on a rock, Christ, and on the perfection of evangelical poverty. – The Spirit gives new eyes to see the face of Jesus.

5

The first stone of this building, after him, was that very ardent man in the Lord, Brother Bernard of Quintavalle, who gave away the abundance that he possessed not to his relatives but to the poor. He was resplendent in a life that was sacred and in a death that was glorious in miracles. – The Spirit gives a new heart to share the love of Jesus with all who have never experienced it.

6

The second was Brother Peter who completely renounced the world, and likewise dispersed his possessions and gave them to the poor. The third was Brother Giles, a man of admirable holiness who, through a gift said to be given by the Lord, when called upon offers whatever pertains to the good of the soul. That devout general minister and cardinal mentioned above, a zealous investigator of such revelations, taught this to us. – Evil triumphs most when good people do nothing.

7

Brother Philip was added to three others. The Lord touched his lips with a cleansing coal so that, even though he was a lay brother, he understood and interpreted Scripture, uttering words about Jesus that flowed with honey. We have heard that of Francis’s first twelve disciples, for whom he also wrote a rule and almost the same mandates that Christ gave to his Apostles, all were holy men except one. – Leaders know, go, and show the way.

8

Leaving the Order he became leprous and, like another Judas, died by hanging, so that even in his disciples the similarity of Francis to Christ might not be wanting. It was no insignificant grace that, when he had only six brothers, there was infused in him such certitude of the Order’s spreading throughout the world, that he saw the future as though it were present. – True spiritual vision is the ability to see the invisible.

9

And he said to the brothers: “I saw the roads filled with the multitude of those coming to us. They are coming from France; Spaniards are hurrying, Germans and English are running, and a huge crowd speaking other languages is rapidly approaching. ”He differentiated the brothers of the early and late periods of time under the metaphor of fruit that is more or less sweet. – In God’s love we see God’s goodness and compassion.

10

Holy brothers and fathers, renowned for great virtue, flourished even among the first brothers: such as, Brother Soldanerio, Brother Roger, Brother Rufino, and Brother John de Laudibus, who merited to touch the mortal wounds of the stigmata impressed on Francis’s flesh while he was living. – Build your life on Jesus.

11

Brother Angelo, who was close to Saint Francis; Brother Leo, the saint’s confessor; another Brother Leo, who later, as Archbishop, energetically governed the Church at Milan; and Brother James, who merited to observe the holy father’s soul ascending into heaven like a star as brilliant as the sun. – Lord, take over my life.

12

And there were the holy fathers, Brother Anthony, Brother Nicholas, Brother Simon, Brother Ambrose, Brother John, and so many others, whom it would take too long to mention individually. They brought light to the early times with the light of their virtues. – Criticism might have its place, but it should be handled by experts.

13

Their bodies are buried in peace and in sacred places for veneration. The bones of Brother Bernard, Brother Rufino, Brother Leo, and Brother Angelo were venerably buried in the Church of Saint Francis in Assisi; those of Brother Giles, in Perugia; of Brother Soldanerio, in the church of the brothers in Viterbo; but those of Brother Juniper are buried in the Church of Saint Mary on the Capitolio in Rome. – Those who would transform the world must first transform themselves.

13

Brother Soldanerio, like the sun giving light to the world, shed light by his behavior and learning. Brother Juniper shone with such a gift of patience that no one ever saw him disturbed even when he was enduring many difficulties. – We are like God when we forgive.

14

Brother Roger glittered such evident holiness that Pope Gregory IX approved and confirmed him as a saint, and granted that his memorial be celebrated at Todi where his relics lie. But he did not proclaim a feast with solemnity as is customary is such cases; because of this, we have heard that the cult of this holy man is now being neglected. – If you do not find happiness along the way, you will not find it at the end of the road.

15

Brother Anthony of Padua does not cease to abound in new prodigies. It is said, among other things, that the most holy Brother Nicholas, seeing a dead man being carried out, raised him from his bier and restored new eyes to someone who had had them torn out. He rests in the brothers’ church in Bologna. The ancient City venerates Brother Ambrose, famous for many miracles there. – They stand best who kneel most.

16

Brother Simon, endowed with the grace of virtues, enriches with many gifts of healing the city of Spoleto, where he rests. In the Spoleto valley we saw a dead man brought back to life by his prayer. The truth of this miracle and of many others was approved and disclosed by the Bishop of Spoleto, who by Apostolic authority inquired into these miracles with remarkable zeal and diligence. – It is never the wrong time to do the right thing.

17

Brother John and Brother Nicholas were men of outstanding holiness. One of these, Brother John, went to the Lord while in the office of guardian and, by his miracles, has already distinguished the German territories. – Do what you can, and God will do what you can’t

18

Nearby Brother Augustine and Brother William, in examples of a holy way of life, which we observed, showed us the paths of the holiest perfection. Their virtuous holiness is also remembered as shining through signs while they were still living in the flesh. – Those who stand for nothing fall for everything.

19

Venerable Brother Hugh, who was filled with the spirit of wisdom and understanding, was sublime in his life and marvelous in the efficacy of his learning. He rests at Marseilles where fitting honor in the brothers’ church in Cahors and shines with the brilliance of many signs.- Every believer must become a spark of light. 

20

Brother Stephen was a man of virtue and grace, formerly an abbot and an important person in the Order of Saint Benedict. Though he chose to be lesser for Christ, he was made Inquisitor against the heretics, and deserved being lifted on high by the crown of martyrdom and the glory of miracles. He lies in the brothers’ church at Toulouse. – Preach to the poor with your hands before you preach with your lips.

21

On a par with him was Brother Raymond, who was also crowned with martyrdom, and has been honorably buried there. Brother Benvenuto and Brother Peter, former provincial minister of Calabria, shine with so many miracles that it has been verified as a divine grace, which it truly is. – Do not tell people how to live, show them.

22

It would take too long to mention each of the confessors and glorious martyrs who suffered for the faith of Christ and in defense of the Church under the Saracens as well as under supporters of the heretics, while these brothers, at the command of the Apostolic See, were inquiring into the irregularities of these heretics, suffered for the faith of Christ and the defense of the Church. – Today’s opportunities erase yesterday’s failures.

 

Chapter II 

THE FORMATION OF THE FIRST DISCIPLES 

23

After blessed Francis returned from the Supreme Pontiff from whom he received the authority to preach, he gathered his brothers around him near the city of Assisi in an abandoned hut that was so confined that these most vigorous scorners of large and beautiful homes were hardly able to sit or rest in it. – When we see the invisible, we will learn how to do the impossible. 

24

They were in such want that, for lack of bread and to assuage their hunger, they were very often content with turnips which they sought in the fields of Assisi. Their relatives pursued them and others ridiculed them, because at that time no young person could be found who would relinquish all his possessions for the Lord’s sake and seek alms from door to door. There was no complaining about this; no grumbling, but with peaceful heart, the soul filled with joy, preserved patience. – We must be masters of ourselves that we may be servants of others.

25

Under the tutelage of the holy father, the increased number of brothers later grew in perfection. They were truly lesser, in name as in humility of mind, who, while living subject to others, always sought a place and position of humility, and, burning with the spirit of charity, they loved one another in a remarkable way, even in what might seem an injury. – Trust to the known God the unknown future.

26

Whenever they came together, in that place a shoot of spiritual love sprang up. What more? There were chaste embraces, delightful affection, a holy kiss, sweet conversation, moderate laughter, joyful looks and hands untiring for service. – Lord, give me only your love and your grace and that is enough for me. 

27

Since they looked down on all earthly things and never loved themselves selfishly, they poured out all their loving affection in common, hiring themselves out to provide for the others’ need, seeking not their own interests but those of Christ and of their neighbors. – Any definition of a successful life must include serving others.

28

Once when a simpleton was throwing stones at the brothers, one brother placed himself in front of them, rejoicing that he would be struck rather than his companion. Rooted in charity and humility, one respected the other as if he were his master. – We are not completely born until we are dead.

29

Whoever among them excelled because of a position or grace seemed even more humble and self-effacing than the others. If anyone happened to say something that displeased another, he would not rest until, with the greatest humility, he confessed his fault to that brother. – We cannot do great things, only small things with great love.

30

They gathered together out of desire, and were delighted to stay together; but they found separation hard, parting bitter. But truly obedient soldiers, they never dared to place anything before holy obedience, knowing nothing about distinguishing precepts. They almost ran headlong, to carry out what they were asked with no thought of contradicting it. – Treat people as they ought to be and you will help them become what they are capable of being. – Don’t compromise yourself. You are all you got.

31

Whatever they were ordered, they considered to be the Lord’s will. Thus it was pleasant and easy for them to fulfill everything. They eagerly asked not be sent to the lands of their origin so that they might observe the words of the Prophet: I have become an outcast to my brothers, a stranger to my mother’s sons. They always found themselves in the Spirit’s joy, because they did not possess the stuff of turmoil. – Holy people serve this world by reflecting in it the light of another.

 

 

March 2022 Thoughts for the Day by Father Francis Sariego, OFS Cap

March 2022

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

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

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

sublime, most high, gentle, lovable, delightful, 

and totally desirable above all else forever. 

Amen.

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

 Chapter XIII 

THE EFFICACIOUS PREACHING OF BLESSED FRANCIS 

AND THE FIRST PLACE HE HAD 

HOW THE BROTHERS STAYED THERE AND HOW THEY LEFT 

1

From then on, blessed Francis, going around the cities and villages, began to preach more widely and more perfectly proclaiming the kingdom of God with confidence, not in the persuasive words of human wisdom, but in the learning and power of the Holy Spirit. – To ease another’s heartbreak is to ease one’s own.

2

Strengthened by apostolic authority, he was a forthright preacher of truth, not using fawning words or seductive flattery, because he first convinced himself by action and then convinced others by word, so that he spoke the truth with the greatest fidelity. – For evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing

3

Even a very great number of learned and well-educated people marveled at his power and truth, which no human had taught, and they hurried to see and hear him as if he were a person of another age. Drawn by divine inspiration, many people, well-born and lowly, cleric and lay, began to cling to blessed Francis’s footsteps, and, after they had abandoned the concerns and vanity of this world, to live under his discipline. – When the spirit soars, the body falls on its knees.

4

The blessed father with his sons were staying in a place near Assisi called Rivotorto where there was a hut abandoned by all. The place was so cramped that they could barely sit or rest. Very often for lack of bread, their only food was the turnips that they begged in their need, here and there. – The face of Christ shows us the character of God.

5

The man of God would write the names of the brothers on the beams of that hut, so that anyone wishing to rest or pray would know his place, and so that any unusual noise would not disturb the mind’s silence in such small and close quarters. – Who lives for himself is apt to be corrupted by the company he keeps.

6

One day while the brothers were staying in that place, a peasant came with his donkey, wanting to stay in that hut with it. And so that he would not be driven away by the brothers, on walking into the hut, he said to his donkey: “Go in, go in, because we will do well in this place.” – We are rich in proportion to the number of things we can do without.

7

When the holy father heard the peasant’s words and realized his intention, he was annoyed at him, most of all because he made quite an uproar with his donkey, disturbing all the brothers who were then immersed in silence and prayer. – It takes two sides to make a lasting peace but only one side to take the first step.

8

Then the man of God said to his brothers: “I know, brothers, that God did not call us to prepare a lodging for a donkey, nor to have dealings with men. While we are preaching the way of salvation to people and are giving them wise counsel, we should dedicate ourselves most of all to prayer and thanksgiving.” – We cannot give like God, but we can forgive like God.

9

They left that hut for the use of poor lepers, moving to a small dwelling near Saint Mary of the Portiuncula where they stayed from time to time before acquiring that church. – Ignore people who try to be little you; they are trying to cut you down to their own size.

10

Afterwards blessed Francis, in accordance with God’s will and inspiration, obtained it from the abbot of the monastery of Saint Benedict on Mount Subasio near Assisi. The saint, in a special and affectionate way, commended this place to the general minister and to all the brothers, as the place loved by the glorious Virgin more than any other place or church in this world. – Serve one another with whatever gift you have received from God.

11

A vision one of the brothers had, while in the world, contributed much to the commendation and love of this place. Blessed Francis loved this brother with unique affection as long as he was with him, by showing him extraordinary affection. This man, wanting to serve God—as he later did so faithfully in religion—saw in a vision that all the people of the world were blind and were kneeling in a circle around the church of Saint Mary of the Portiuncula with their hands joined and their faces raised to heaven. – Where love is, there is God also.

12

In a loud and sobbing voice, they were begging the Lord in his mercy to give them sight. While they were praying, it seemed that a great light came from heaven and, resting on them, enlightened all of them with its wholesome radiance. – Prayer is the most powerful energy one can generate.

13

On awakening, the man resolved to serve God more faithfully, and, shortly thereafter, leaving the world with its seductions, he entered religion where he persevered in the service of God with humility and dedication. – Prayer is a force as real as earth’s gravity.

 

Chapter XIV 

THE CHAPTER THAT WAS HELD TWICE A YEAR 

AT SAINT MARY OF THE PORTIUNCULA 

14

After blessed Francis had obtained that place of Saint Mary from the abbot of Saint Benedict, he ordered that a chapter be held there twice a year, that is, on Pentecost and on the Dedication of Saint Michael. At Pentecost, all the brothers used to gather at the church of Saint Mary and discuss how they could better observe the Rule. They appointed brothers throughout the various provinces who would preach to the people, and assigned other brothers in their provinces. – Use what talents you possess.

15

Saint Francis, however, used to give admonitions, corrections, and directives as it seemed to him to be according to the Lord’s counsel. Everything that he said to them in word, however, he would show them in deed with eagerness and affection. He used to revere prelates and priests of the holy Church, and honored the elderly, the noble, and the wealthy. – To be Christian is to be like Christ.

16

Moreover, he intimately loved the poor, suffering deeply with them, and he showed himself subject to all. Although he was more elevated than all the brothers, he still appointed one of the brothers staying with him as his guardian and master. – We don’t need more Christianity but more Christians who practice it.

17

He humbly and eagerly obeyed him, in order to avoid any occasion of pride. For in the presence of people, he lowered his head even to the ground; so that now in the presence of God’s saints and chosen ones, he merits to be exalted in the divine sight. – The only tyrant to accept in this world is the still voice within.

18

He zealously used to admonish the brothers to observe the holy Gospel and the Rule which they had firmly promised; and particularly to be reverent and devoted about divine services and ecclesiastical regulations, hearing Mass devotedly, and adoring the Body of the Lord even more devotedly.- It is possible to give without loving but never possible to love without giving.

19

He wanted priests who handle the tremendous and greatest sacraments to be honored uniquely by the brothers, so that wherever they met them, as they bowed their heads to them, they would kiss their hands. – Choice, not chance, determines destiny.

20

And if they found them on horseback, he wanted them not only to kiss their hands but, out of reverence for their power, even the hooves of the horses upon which they were riding. He also admonished the brothers not to judge anyone, nor to look down upon those who live with refinement and dress extravagantly or fashionably. For, he would say, their God is ours, the Lord Who is capable of calling them to Himself and justifying those called. – Lord, bless me with the clarity of vision to discern your will.

21

He also used to tell them he wanted the brothers to show reverence to these people as their brothers and lords. They are brothers, because we were all created by one Creator; they are lords, because they help the good to do penance by providing them with the necessities of life. – Lord, bless me with the courage of heart to carry out your will.

22

He added: “The brothers’ way of life among the people should be such that whoever hears or sees them glorifies and praises the heavenly Father with dedication.” For his great desire was that he, as well as his brothers, would abound in such good deeds for which the Lord would be praised. – Every action of our lives will vibrate in eternity.

23

He used to tell them: “As you announce peace with your mouth, make sure that greater peace is in your hearts. Let no one be provoked to anger or scandal through you, but may everyone be drawn to peace, kindness, and harmony through your gentleness. For we have been called to this: to heal the wounded, bind up the broken, and recall the erring. In fact, many who seem to us to be members of the devil will yet be disciples of Christ.” – Apathy is the glove into which evil slips its hand.

24

Moreover, the pious father used to reprove his brothers who to him were too austere, exerting too much effort in those vigils, fasts and corporal punishments. Some of them afflicted themselves so harshly to repress within them every impulse of the flesh,  that they seemed to hate themselves. – One who cannot be little will never be great.

25

The man of God forbade them, admonishing them with kindness, reprimanding them with reason, and binding up their wounds with the bandages of wholesome precepts. Among the brothers who had come to the chapter, no one dared to discuss worldly matters, but they spoke of the lives of the holy fathers, and how they could better and more perfectly find the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. – Who prays as he ought will endeavor to live as he prays.

26

If some of the brothers who came to the chapter experienced any temptation or tribulation, upon hearing blessed Francis speaking so sweetly and fervently, and on seeing his penance, they were freed from their temptations and were miraculously relieved of the tribulations. For, while suffering with them, he spoke to them, not as a judge, but as a merciful father to his children, or a good doctor to the sick, knowing how to be sick with the sick and afflicted with the afflicted. – What is going to be is up to me.

27

Nevertheless he duly rebuked all delinquents, and restrained the obstinate and rebellious with an appropriate punishment. When a chapter had ended, he would bless all the brothers and assign each of them to individual provinces. – One can criticize only if he/she has the heart to help.

28

To anyone possessing the Spirit of God and an eloquence suitable for preaching, whether cleric or lay, he gave permission to preach. When those men received his blessing with great joy of spirit, they went throughout the world as pilgrims and strangers, taking nothing on their way except the books in which they could say their Hours. – Character is a victory and not a gift.

29

Whenever they found a priest, rich or poor, good or bad, bowing humbly they paid him their respect. When it was time to seek lodging, they more willingly stayed with priests rather than with seculars. When they were unable to stay with priests, they would seek more spiritual and God-fearing persons with whom they could more suitably be welcomed. – Jesus cannot be our Savior unless first He is our Lord.

30

After this, in each city and town that the brothers wanted to visit, the Lord inspired some God-fearing people to offer them hospitality, until some places were built for them in cities and towns. The Lord gave them the word and the spirit, according to need of the time, to speak with most incisive words, penetrating the hearts of the young—as well as the elderly—who, abandoning fathers and mothers and all they had, followed the brothers, by putting on the habit of religion. – The Will of God, Nothing more, Nothing less.

31

Those whom they received to the Order they led to blessed Francis, that they might receive from him the habit of religion with humility and dedication. Not only were men converted to the Order; but also many virgins and widows, struck by their preaching, on their advice secluded themselves in cities and towns in monasteries established for doing penance. One of the brothers was appointed their visitator and corrector. Similarly, both married men and women given in marriage, unable to separate because of the law of matrimony, committed themselves to more severe penance in their own homes on the wholesome advice of the brothers. And thus, through blessed Francis, a perfect worshipper of the Holy Trinity, the Church of God was renewed in three orders, just as the earlier repair of the three churches foreshadowed. Each one of these orders was in its time approved by the Supreme Pontiff. – Character consists on what you do on the third and fourth tries.

 

 

February 2022 Thoughts for the day by Father Francis Sariego, OFM Cap

February 2022 

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

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

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

Who alone is good, Who alone is almighty, 

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

worthy of praise and blessing through endless ages. 

Amen. 

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

Excerpts taken from: Legend of the Three Companions 

Chapter XII 

HOW BLESSED FRANCIS 

WITH HIS ELEVEN COMPANIONS 

WENT TO THE PAPAL CURIA THAT HE MIGHT INFORM HIM 

OF THEIR PROPOSAL AND HAVE THE RULE THAT HE HAD WRITTEN CONFIRMED 

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

And since the proposal of their father pleased the other brothers, and they had embarked together with him on the journey to the Curia, he said to them: “Let us make one of us our leader and consider that man a kind of vicar of Jesus Christ, so that wherever he wants to go, we will go, and whenever he wants to rest, we will rest.”- We are capable of great things only if we are sincere with ourselves

And they chose Brother Bernard, the first after blessed Francis, and, as the father said, they served him. They, then, made their way rejoicing and spoke about the words of the Lord, not daring to say anything except for the praise and glory of God and the benefit of the soul, and they frequently spent time in prayer. The Lord, on the other hand, prepared lodging for them, doing what was necessary to minister to them.- Our sense of God determines how we see ourselves

4  

When they arrived in Rome and found the bishop of the city of Assisi there, they were received with immense joy, for he honored blessed Francis and all the brothers with special affection. Not knowing the reason for their arrival, he began to be apprehensive, fearing that they might want to leave their native land, where the Lord had begun to do marvelous things through them. For he rejoiced to have in his diocese such men whose life and conduct he greatly appreciated. – Reforming others begins with me.

After he learned their purpose and understood their plan, however, he was overjoyed and promised them his counsel and help. The bishop was known to the cardinal bishop of Sabina, named Lord John of Saint Paul, a man truly full of God’s grace, who loved, in particular, servants of God. The bishop of Assisi made the life of blessed Francis and his brothers clear to him. On this account, he was eager to meet the man of God and some of his brothers. Hearing that they were in the City, he sent for those men and welcomed them with great reverence and love. – The great thing about this world is not where we are but in what direction we are moving.  

During the few days they were staying with that man, they so edified him with their holy words and example, that, seeing what he had heard about them to shine in deed, he commended himself humbly and devoutly to their prayers. He even asked them, as a special grace, to be considered one of their brothers. Then asking blessed Francis the reason why he came and hearing from him their entire proposal and intention, he offered to be their procurator at the Curia. – First, we form habits, then they form us.

7  

That cardinal then went to the Curia and told the Lord Pope Innocent III: “I found a most perfect man, who wishes to live according to the form of the holy Gospel, and to observe evangelical perfection in all things. I believe that the Lord wills, through him, to reform the faith of the holy Church throughout the world.” – “Could have”, “would have”, “should have” accomplish nothing and get us nowhere.  

8  

Hearing this, the lord pope was greatly amazed and had the cardinal bring blessed Francis to him. On the following day, therefore, the man of God was presented by that cardinal to the pope, to whom he revealed his entire holy proposal. The pope, a man of extraordinary discernment, in due fashion assented to Francis’s request, and encouraged him and his brothers in many ways. – God does look us over for our medals, degrees or diplomas but for our scars. 

9  

He blessed them saying: “Go with the Lord, brothers, and as He will see fit to inspire you, preach penance to everyone. When almighty God increases you in number and grace, come back to us. We will grant you more and entrust you with a greater charge.”- When we learn about death, then we begin to learn about life.

10 

Before the saint left his presence, the Lord Pope wanted to know whether what had been, and what would be conceded, was according to the Lord’s will. And so, he said to him and his companions: “My dear young sons, your life seems to Us exceptionally hard and severe. While We believe there can be no question about your living it because of your great zeal, We must take into consideration those who will come after you lest this way of life seem too burdensome.” – If you don’t conquer your habits, they will conquer you

11 

The pope saw that their constancy of faith and the anchor of their hope were so firmly grounded in Christ, that they did not want to be shaken from their enthusiasm. So he said to blessed Francis: “My son, go and pray that God will reveal to you whether what you ask proceeds from His will. In this way, knowing the Lord’s will, We may accede to your desires. – Everybody wants to go to heaven, but nobody wants to die. 

12  

The bishop was known to the cardinal bishop of Sabina, named Lord John of Saint Paul, a man truly full of God’s grace, who loved, in particular, servants of God. The bishop of Assisi made the life of blessed Francis and his brothers clear to him. – Life is richer when we are willing to take risks: no risk, no gain

13 

On this account, he was eager to meet the man of God and some of his brothers. Hearing that they were in the City, he sent for those men and welcomed them with great reverence and love. During the few days they were staying with that man, they so edified him with their holy words and example, that, seeing what he had heard about them to shine in deed, he commended himself humbly and devoutly to their prayers. He even asked them, as a special grace, to be considered one of their brothers. – Crush the flower and it sends out a fragrance. That’s the way forgiveness works. 

14  

Then asking blessed Francis the reason why he came and hearing from him their entire proposal and intention, he offered to be their procurator at the Curia. That cardinal then went to the Curia and told the Lord Pope Innocent III: “I found a most perfect man, who wishes to live according to the form of the holy Gospel, and to observe evangelical perfection in all things. I believe that the Lord wills, through him, to reform the faith of the holy Church throughout the world.” – Sins cannot be undone, only forgiven

15  

Hearing this, the lord pope was greatly amazed and had the cardinal bring blessed Francis to him. On the following day, therefore, the man of God was presented by that cardinal to the pope, to whom he revealed his entire holy proposal. – Unexpected gratitude is like winking at someone in the dark. You know what you are doing, but they don’t

16  

The pope, a man of extraordinary discernment, in due fashion assented to Francis’s request, and encouraged him and his brothers in many ways. He blessed them saying: “Go with the Lord, brothers, and as He will see fit to inspire you, preach penance to everyone. When almighty God increases you in number and grace, come back to us. We will grant you more and entrust you with a greater charge.” – It’s all in the perspective: did God put thorns on roses, or did God put roses on thorns?

17  

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

18  

The pope saw that their constancy of faith and the anchor of their hope were so firmly grounded in Christ, that they did not want to be shaken from their enthusiasm. – It is never night when Jesus is near. 

19  

Once God’s saint had prayed, as the Lord Pope suggested, the Lord spoke figuratively to him in spirit: “There was a little, poor and beautiful woman in a desert, whose beauty fascinated a great king. He wanted to take her as his wife, because he thought that, from her, he would have handsome sons. After the marriage was celebrated and consummated, there were many sons born and raised. – Remember: a Carpenter made us, and He alone can remake us. 

20  

Their mother spoke to them in this way: ‘My sons, do not be ashamed, for you are sons of the king. Therefore, go to his court and he will provide for all your needs.’ When they went to see the king, he was struck by their good looks, and noticing a resemblance to himself in them, he asked them: ‘Whose sons are you?’ When they answered that they were the sons of the little poor woman living in the desert, the king embraced them with great joy. ‘Do not be afraid,’ he said, ‘for you are my sons. – People want to know how much we care, before they care how much we know.  

21  

If strangers are fed at my table, how much more will you, who are my lawful sons.’ He then ordered the woman to send to his court all of the children she had borne to be fed.” When these things had been shown to blessed Francis while he was praying, the man of God understood that the poor woman signified him. – Care more than others think necessary.  

22  

After he completed his prayer, he presented himself to the Supreme Pontiff and narrated point-by-point the story that the Lord had revealed to him. “My lord,” he said, “I am that little poor woman whom the loving Lord, in His mercy, has adorned, and through whom He has been pleased to give birth to legitimate sons. The King of kings had told me that He will nourish all the sons born to me, because, if He feeds strangers, He must provide for His own. – Trust more than others think wise

23  

For if God gives temporal goods to sinful men out of love for providing for His children, how much more will He give to Gospel men who deserve these things out of merit.” – Serve more than others think practical. 

24 

On hearing this, the pope was greatly amazed, especially since, before blessed Francis’s arrival, he had seen in a vision the church of Saint John Lateran threatening to collapse, and a religious, small and of shabby appearance, supporting it on his own shoulders. When he awoke, stunned and shaken, as a discerning and wise man, he pondered what this vision meant to tell him. – Expect more than others think possible 

25 

A few days later, blessed Francis came to him, made known his proposal, as we have said, and asked him to confirm the rule he had written in simple words, using the words of the holy Gospel, for whose perfection he fully longed. As he was reflecting on how enthusiastic blessed Francis was in God’s service and comparing his vision with that shown to the man of God, he began to say to himself: “This is indeed that holy and religious man through whom the church of God will be sustained and supported.” – It is better to dare mighty things than to live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat.

26 

So he embraced him and approved the rule he had written. He also gave him and his brothers permission to preach penance everywhere, with the stipulation that the brothers who preach obtain permission from blessed Francis.  

Therefore, after obtaining these favors, blessed Francis thanked God, and on bended knees, promised obedience and reverence to the Lord Pope humbly and devoutly. The other brothers, in accordance with the precept of the Lord Pope, promised obedience and reverence to blessed Francis in a similar way. – We forfeit three fourth of ourselves to be like other people

27  

After receiving a blessing from the Supreme Pontiff and visiting the tombs of the Apostles, blessed Francis and the other eleven brothers were given the tonsure, as the lord cardinal had arranged, wanting all twelve of them to be clerics. As he was leaving the City, the man of God, with his brothers, set out into the world, greatly surprised at how easily his desire had been granted. He was growing each day in the hope and trust of the Savior, who had earlier shown him by holy revelations what was to happen. – It’s good to have money but check to make sure you have not lost the things that money cannot buy

28 

For before he had obtained these things, one night when he had gone to sleep, it seemed to him that he was making his way down a road beside which there was a lovely, strong and thick tree that was exceedingly high. As he approached and stood under it, marveling at its height and beauty, the holy man suddenly rose to so great a height, that he touched the top of the tree and very easily bent it even to the ground. It really happened this way, when the Lord Innocent, a very high, lovely, and strong tree in the world, bent himself so kindly to his wish and request – Until we lose ourselves, there is no hope of finding ourselves. 

 

January 2022 Thoughts for the Day by Father Francis Sariego, OFM Cap

My apologies for the lateness in posting the January writings of Father Francis.  Some lovely person took over my debit card and my email account more than a week ago and it  has been difficult regaining control.  The devil herself has been after me!

January 2022

Lord, just as I believe that at an earlier time 

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

so now I realize that, because of Your abundant mercy 

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

Give glory to Your name, 

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

to the whole Christian people. 

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

not to consider (my) ingratitude. 

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

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

Amen.

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

Excerpts of for each day are taken from the Legend of the Three Companions 

Chapter XI 

THE RECEPTION OF FOUR OTHER BROTHERS 

AND THE MOST BURNING CHARITY THEY HAD FOR EACH OF THE FIRST BROTHERS, 

OF THEIR EAGERNESS IN WORKING AND PRAYING AND THEIR PERFECT OBEDIENCE

1

People then saw that the brothers rejoiced in their tribulations, persisted in prayer with eagerness and devotion, neither accepted nor carried money, and possessed a great love for one another; and through this they were known to be really the Lord’s disciples. –  Lord teach me to be generous. Teach me to serve you as you deserve.

2

Many came to them with heartfelt sorrow, asking pardon for the offenses they had committed against them. They forgave them from their hearts, saying: “May the Lord forgive you,” and encouraged them soundly about their eternal salvation – God says: With your very wounds I will heal you.

3

Some asked those brothers to receive them into their company. And because of the small number of the brothers—all six of them possessed authority from blessed Francis to receive others into the Order—they accepted some of them into their company.  – Never fear shadows. They simply mean there’s light shining somewhere nearby.

4

After they were received, they all returned at a predetermined time to Saint Mary of the Portiuncula. When they saw one another again, however, they were filled with such delight and joy, as if they didn’t remember anything of what they had endured at the hands of the wicked. – All we see teaches us to trust the Creator we have not seen.

5

Each day they were conscientious in prayer and working with their hands to avoid all idleness, the enemy of the soul. – Give me faith, Lord, and let me help others find it.

6

They rose conscientiously in the middle of the night, and prayed most devoutly with copious tears and sighs.-  Lord, teach me to give and not count the cost.

7

They loved each other deeply, served one another, and took care of each other as a mother for an only and beloved child. – A humble knowledge of oneself is a sure way to God

8

Charity burned so ardently in them that it seemed easy for them to give their bodies to death, not only for the love of Christ, but also for the salvation of the soul or the body of their confreres. – Underneath the masks there are in every person, there is a noble nature.

9

One day, when two of the brothers were walking along, they came across a simpleton who began to throw rocks at them. One of them, noticing that stones were being thrown at the other, ran directly in front of him, preferring that the stones strike him rather than his brother. –  We will not be judged on our successes but on our love and faithfulness.

10

Because of the mutual charity with which they burned, they were prepared to lay down their life in this way, one for the other. – It is better to be patient than powerful

11                                                       

They were so rooted and grounded in humility and love, that one respected the other as father and master, while those who excelled by way of the office of prelate or some grace, seemed humble and more self-effacing than the others. – It is better to win control over yourself than over others.

12

They all dedicated themselves wholeheartedly to obedience, ever prepared for the will of the one giving orders. They did not distinguish between a just and an unjust command because they considered whatever they were ordered to be the Lord’s will.- God give me the serenity to accept, even joyfully, that part of myself that I can’t change.

13

Fulfilling commands, therefore, was pleasant and easy for them. – Lord give me the courage to change that part of me that I ought to change.

14

They abstained from carnal desires, judging themselves carefully and taking care that in no way would one offend the other. – Be thankful for your handicaps, for it is through them that you will find yourself, your work, and your God.

15

If it ever happened that one uttered an annoying word to another, his conscience troubled him, so much so that he could not rest until he admitted his fault. – Things “turn out best” for those who make the best of the way things “turn out”.

16

He would humbly prostrate himself on the ground, so that his brother would place his foot over his mouth. If the brother who was offended refused to do this, then the brother who offended him, if he were a prelate, would order him to do so. – Make sure the thing you’re living for is worth dying for.

17

If he were a subject, he would have a prelate give the order. In this way, with the grace of Jesus Christ anticipating and helping them, they strove to banish all ill will and malice from their midst, to preserve among them always perfect love, and, to combat, as far as possible, each vice by practicing a corresponding virtue. – Nothing here below is profane for those who know how to se the sacred in everything.

18

Moreover, they did not appropriate anything as their own, but used books or other items in common according to the pattern handed down and observed by the apostles. – You can’t turn back the clock. But you can wind it up again.

19

Although there was real poverty in and among them, they were generous and openhanded with everything given them for God’s sake. –  Now is the time for strong minds, great hearts, true faith, and ready hands!

20

The alms freely given to them out of His love, they gave to all those who begged from them, especially to the poor. – God’s presence is not discerned at the time it is upon us but afterward when we look back.

21

In fact, if they were traveling along the road and found the poor begging from them for the love of God, when they had nothing to offer them, they would give them some of their clothing even though it was shabby. – God exists within us more intimately than we exist within ourselves.

22

Sometimes they gave their capuche, tearing it from the tunic; at other times they gave a sleeve, or tore off a part of their habit, that they might fulfill that Gospel passage “Give to all who beg from you.” – The Lord has a plan for each one of us, even though we might not know it yet.

23

One day, however, a poor man begging alms came to the church of Saint Mary of the Portiuncula, near where the brothers sometimes stayed. There was a cloak there that a brother wore while in the world. When blessed Francis told him to give it to that poor man, he gave it to him freely and quickly. – We are the hands and eyes through which God’s compassion can shine upon a troubles world.

24

And immediately, because of the reverence and devotion which that brother had in giving the cloak to the poor man, it seemed to him that the alms rose up into heaven and he felt himself inundated by a new happiness. – Unless we have within us that which is above us, we shall soon yield to what is around us.

25

When, in fact, the rich of this world would go out of their way for them, they received them quickly and kindly, striving to call them from evil and prompting them to do penance. – We should all try to learn before we die what we are running, from, and to, and why.

26

They also eagerly sought not to be sent to the lands where they had been raised, that they might avoid association and dealings with their relatives and could observe the prophetic word: “I have become an outcast to my brothers, a stranger to my mother’s sons.” – People may doubt what we say, but they’ll believe what we do.

27

They rejoiced most in poverty, because they did not desire riches, but spurned everything transitory that can be desired by those enamored of this world. –  Desire to get involved in God’s plan, regardless of the cost.

28

Above all, they trampled upon money as if it were dirt under their feet and, as they had been taught by the saint, considered it as equal in worth and weight to the dung of an ass. –  We tend to forget that we have an unbelievable control over our destiny.

29

They constantly rejoiced in the Lord, not having within themselves nor among themselves anything that could make them sad. – Today’s decision is tomorrow’s reality.

30

For the more they were separated from the world, the more they were united to God.  – The enemy of the best is not the worst, but the good enough.

31

As they advanced on the way of the cross and the paths of justice, they cleared all hindrances from the narrow path of penance and of the observance of the Gospel, that they might make a smooth and safe path for the future. – Troubles are often the means God uses to fashion people into something better than they are.

 

 

 

 

 

December 2021 Thoughts for the Day by Fr. Francis Sariego, OFM Cap

December 2021 

The daily excerpts for each day are taken from The Legend of the Three Companions 

 Chapter IX 

THE VOCATION OF BROTHER SYLVESTER 

AND THE VISION HE HAD BEFORE ENTERING THE ORDER 

As we have said, while Lord Bernard was giving all his possessions to the poor, blessed Francis was at his side assisting him, glorifying and praising the Lord in his heart, in awe at the astounding work of the Lord. A priest named Sylvester, from whom the blessed Francis had purchased stones for the repair of the church of San Damiano, came. – Calvary is the hill of the saints

Seeing so much money being given away on the man of God’s advice, he was consumed by a burning passion of greed, and said to him: and said to him: “Francis, you did not completely pay me for the stones which you bought from me.” The scorner of greed, hearing him complaining unjustly, approached Lord Bernard, and putting his hand into his cloak where the money was, in great fervor of spirit, filled it with a handful of coins, and gave them to the disgruntled priest. – Trust in God’s authority and do not fear the storms that may surround you

He filled his hand with money a second time, and said to him: “Do you now have full payment, Lord Priest?” “I have it completely, brother,” he replied. Overjoyed, he returned home with his money. – Whoever obeys God will sing victory

But after a few days that same priest, inspired by the Lord, began to reflect on these things blessed Francis had done, and he said to himself: “Am I not a miserable man? Old as I am, don’t I still covet and desire the things of this world? And this young man despises and scorns them all for the love of God!” – May Jesus be your comfort, sustenance, and compensation. 

The following night he saw in a dream an immense cross. Its top reached to the heavens, its base rested fixed in the mouth of the blessed Francis, and its arms stretched from one part of the world to the other. When he woke, therefore, the priest understood and resolutely believed that Francis was indeed Christ’s friend and servant, and the religion which he founded would spread all over the world. – Take heart. He suffers with you, groans with you, and is pleased with you

From then on he began to fear God and to do penance in his own home. At last, after a little while, he entered the Order in which he lived excellently and ended gloriously. –  Every predestined soul must resemble Jesus. 

The man of God, Francis, accompanied by his two brothers, had no place to stay, so he moved with them to a poor little abandoned church, which was called Saint Mary of the Portiuncula. And there they built a little hut in which they would live from time to time. After a few days, an Assisian, named Giles, came to them and, on his knees, begged the man of God with great reverence and devotion to accept him into his company. – Unite yourself more to Jesus, and don’t lose heart in difficulties. 

When the man of God saw how unusually faithful and devout the man was, realizing that he was able to obtain great grace from God, as later became clear by his success, he received him with open arms. These four, united in immense happiness and the joy of the Holy Spirit, separated for greater spiritual advantage. – Calm yourself and with holy indifference carry on with your tasks. 

Blessed Francis, taking Brother Giles with him, went into the Marches of Ancona; the other two went into another area. While going to the Marches, they rejoiced enthusiastically in the Lord; the holy man, however, sang with a loud and clear voice, in French, the praises of the Lord, blessing and glorifying the goodness of the Most High. There was as much happiness in them as if they had found a great treasure in the evangelical field of Lady Poverty. –  Don’t become impatient over your daily struggles. 

10 

The saint told Brother Giles: “Our religion will be like a fisherman who casts his nets into the water catching a great number of fish, and, leaving the small ones in the water, he puts the large ones into his basket.” Thus he prophesied that the Order would expand. – Humble yourself before God

11 

Even though the man of God did not yet fully preach to the people, when he went through cities and towns, he encouraged everyone to fear and love God and to do penance for their sins. Brother Giles, on the other hand, exhorted his listeners to believe him because he gave them the best advice. – Confide all your needs to God

12 

Those who heard them would say: “Who are these men?” and “What are these words they’re saying?” For, at that time, love and fear of God were non-existent almost everywhere, and the way of penance was not only completely unknown, but it was also considered folly. –  Keep Jesus present to your gaze

13 

Lust for the flesh, greed for the world, and pride of life was so widespread, that the whole world seemed to be engulfed in these three malignancies. There was a diversity of opinions about these evangelical men. Some declared that they were fools or drunkards, while others maintained that such words did not come from fools. – Be humble and be more humble. 

14 

After they had traveled around that province, they returned to the place called Saint Mary’s. After a few days had elapsed, however, three other men from Assisi, Sabbatino, Morico, and John de Capella, came to them, begging blessed Francis to receive them as brothers. He received them humbly and kindly. – You are not the object of God’s vengeance, but of God’s love. 

15 

When they were begging alms throughout the city, hardly anyone would give to them…Even their own relatives and families would persecute those men, and others in the city mocked them as senseless and stupid, because no one at that time would abandon what was his to go begging alms from door to door. – All that happens to us is an effect of God’s love. 

16 

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

17 

The man of God’s response greatly pleased the bishop. For Francis scorned all worldly goods, but money most of all; so much so, that in all his rules he most forcefully commended poverty and repeated that the brothers be eager to avoid money. He expressed his scorn of money: “May we who have left all things, then, be careful of not losing the kingdom of heaven for so little. If we find coins anywhere, let us pay no more attention to them than to the dust we trample underfoot.” – The Lord is with you always. Do not be anxious

Chapter X 

HOW HE PREDICTED TO HIS SIX COMPANIONS 

ALL THAT WOULD HAPPEN TO THEM ON THEIR JOURNEYS THROUGHOUT THE WORLD EXHORTING THEM TO PENANCE 

18 

Calling together the six brothers, Saint Francis,  predicted to them what was about to happen. “Dearest brothers,” he said, “let us consider our vocation, to which God has mercifully called us, not only for our own good, but for the salvation of many. We are to go throughout the world, encouraging everyone, more by deed than by word, to do penance for their sins and to recall the commandments of God. Do not be afraid that you seem few and uneducated. – At all times and in every circumstance trust in the love and goodness of our God. 

19 

With confidence, simply proclaim penance, trusting in the Lord, who conquered the world. Because by His Spirit, He is speaking through and in you, encouraging everyone to be converted to Him and to observe His commandments. –  Keep Jesus as the center of your heart. 

20 

“You will find some faithful people, meek and kind, who will receive you and your words with joy. You will find many others, faithless, proud, and blasphemous, who will resist and reject you and what you say. Therefore, resolve in your hearts to bear these things with patience and humility.” – Humble yourself before the Lord with complete confidence

21 

When the brothers heard this, they began to be afraid. The saint told them: “Do not fear, because after not much time many learned and noble men will come to us, and will be with us preaching to kings and rulers and great crowds. Many people will be converted to the Lord, Who will multiply and increase His family throughout the entire world.” – Live in the presence of Jesus in your mind, your heart, in the Sacrament of the Altar

22 

Whenever they came upon a church or a cross, they bowed in prayer and said with devotion: “We adore you, Christ, and we bless you in all your churches throughout the whole world, because, by your holy cross, you have redeemed the world.” For they believed they would find a place of God wherever they found a cross or a church. –  The Holy Eucharist is the great means through which you can aspire to perfection

23 

(When asked who are you and where to come from) they responded simply that they were penitents originally from the city of Assisi. In many places, after they had suffered a number of insults, they sought lodging in the porticos of churches and homes. – Receive the Eucharist with desire. 

24 

A man, named Guido, was distributing alms to the poor who were in the church. When he came to the brothers and wanted to give money to each one of them, as he had done to the others, they refused the money and did not want to accept it. – Do not desire to be anything more that what you are and what God has called you to be,  

25 

But he said to them: “Since you are poor, why don’t you accept the coins like the others?” Brother Bernard answered: “While it is true that we are poor, poverty is not burdensome for us as it is for other poor people. For, by the grace of God, we have willingly made ourselves poor. It is His counsel we fulfilled.” – Unite your heart with the Heart of Jesus and be simple-hearted as He desires

26 

Astonished at these things and asking if they had ever possessed anything, he heard from them that they had indeed possessed much. For the love of God, though, they had given everything to the poor. The one who answered in this way was Brother Bernard, the first disciple of blessed Francis, whom today we truly believe to be a most holy father. – In spite of our own unworthiness, our merciful Lord has adorned us with the gift of His holy love. 

27 

He was the first to run after the holy one of God, embracing the delegation of peace and penance. Selling everything he possessed and giving to the poor, according to the counsel of Gospel perfection, he persevered to the end in most holy poverty. When that woman reflected that the brothers did not want the coins, she approached them and told them that she would gladly receive them into her home if they wanted lodging there. – Give glory to the heavenly Father and be transformed in Him! 

28 

The brothers answered humbly: “May the Lord reward you for your good will.” That man, however, hearing that the brothers were unable to find lodging, took them to his house, saying: “Look, this is the lodging the Lord has prepared for you. Stay in it according to your pleasure.” – The human spirit without the flame of divine love, tends to reach the level of the beasts. 

29 

Giving thanks to God, they stayed with him several days, edifying him in the fear of the Lord, more by example than by word. Afterwards, he gave much to the poor. – With faith and hope you will arm yourself in order to sustain all that you are called to bear. 

30 

Suffering all these things steadfastly and patiently, as blessed Francis had admonished them, they did not become dejected or disturbed, nor did they curse those who brought evil upon them. –  Remember that you are the child of a merciful Father who is indulgent toward you.  

31 

On the contrary, as perfectly evangelical men, placed at a great advantage, they greatly exulted in the Lord, considering it pure joy when they fell into temptations and trials of this sort. According to the word of the Gospel, they prayed carefully and enthusiastically for their persecutors. – Practice mercy rather than justice, in imitation of your heavenly Father

 May the Lord bless you and keep you 

Show His face to you and have mercy on you, 

Look on you with kindness and grant you His peace. 

And throughout the New Year 2022 

May the Lord live with you and may you always live with Him

Happy and Blessed New Year 2022 To All 

November 2021 Thought for the Day by Father Francis Sariego, OFM Cap

November 2021

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: Legend of the Three Companions 

Daily reflections are taken from various sources

 

 

Chapter VII  

THE HARD WORK AND FATIGUE INVOLVED  

IN RESTORING THE CHURCH OF SAN DAMIANO  

AND HOW HE BEGAN TO OVERCOME HIMSELF BY GOING OUT FOR ALMS 

1

Therefore, Francis, the servant of God, stripped of all that is of the world, is free for divine justice and, despising his own life, he gives himself to divine service in every way he can. Returning to the church of San Damiano, joyful and eager, he made a hermit’s habit for himself, and comforted the priest of that church with the same words with which the bishop had comforted him. –  No talent can survive the blight of neglect.

2

Then, getting up and going back to the city, he began to praise the Lord throughout the piazzas and neighborhoods, like one inebriated with the Spirit. When he finished praising the Lord in this way, he turned to obtaining stones for the repair of the church. “Whoever gives me one stone,” he would say, “will have one reward. Whoever gives me two, will have two rewards. Whoever gives me three, will have that many rewards.” – Envy comes from people’s ignorance of, or lack of belief in, their own gifts.

3

Thus, burning with enthusiasm, he also made many other simple statements. Because he was unlettered and simple, the man chosen by God did not speak in the learned words of human wisdom, but in everything was quite simple. – Don’t hide your talents. They were made to be used.

4

Many ridiculed him thinking he was mad, while others, prompted by piety, were moved to tears seeing how quickly he had come from such pleasure and worldly vanity to such an intoxication of divine love. Disregarding their scorn, he thanked God with burning enthusiasm. – Hell is full of the talented, but Heaven of the energetic.

5

It would be long and difficult to relate how he worked on the project, for he, who had been very refined in his father’s house, hauled stones on his own shoulders, afflicting himself greatly in the service of God. The priest judged the work to be beyond his strength, even though he was offering himself so enthusiastically to divine service. – We judge ourselves by what we feel capable of doing and others judge us by what we have done.

6

Although poor himself, he obtained special food for Francis, for he knew that, while he was in the world, he had lived rather delicately… he said to himself: “Will you find a priest like this wherever you go who will offer you such human kindness? This is not the life of the poor that you have chosen. As a beggar, going from door to door, you should carry a bowl in your hand, and, driven by necessity, you should collect the scraps they give you. This is how you must live willingly, out of love for him who was born poor, lived very poorly in this world, remained naked and poor on the cross, and was buried in a tomb belonging to another.” – Character is formed in the storms of life.

7

As a result, one day he took a bowl and, entering the city, he went door-to-door begging alms. Whenever he put various scraps in his bowl, many who knew what a pampered life he had lived were astonished at how marvelously changed he was, seeing that he held himself in such contempt. – One of the most distressing signs of our times is the denial of guilt.

8

But when he wanted to eat the mixed food offered him, he felt revulsion because he was not accustomed not only to eating such things, but even at looking at them. At last overcoming himself, he began to eat, and it seemed to him that no delicacy had ever tasted so delicious. Then his heart rejoiced in the Lord so much that his flesh, although weak and afflicted, was strong enough to endure joyfully for the Lord anything harsh or bitter. – Lack of wealth is easily repaired, but the poverty of the soul is irreparable.

9

Above all, he gave thanks to God that He had changed the bitter into the sweet, and that He had comforted him in so many ways. Then he told the priest not to prepare or obtain any food for him in the future. – The line separating good and evil passes right through every human heart.

10

When his father saw him in such disgrace, he was filled with unusual pain. Because he loved him dearly, he was ashamed and felt great sorrow for him. Seeing his flesh half-dead from excessive affliction and cold, he would curse him whenever he came upon him. Aware of his father’s curses, the man of God chose a poor and looked-down-upon man to take the place of his father, and told him: “Come with me, and I will give you some of the alms that were given to me. – Pain is God’s loudspeaker to arouse a deaf world.

11

When you see my father cursing me, I will also say to you: ‘Bless me, father.’ You will then make the sign of the cross over me, and bless me in his place.” – God whispers in our pleasures but shouts in our pains.

12

The next time this happened and the beggar was blessing him, the man of God said to his father: “Don’t you believe that God can give me a father to bless me against your curses?” Afterwards, many of those who mocked him and saw how patiently he endured every abuse marveled with great astonishment. – Nothing great was ever done without much enduring.

13

One winter morning, while he was at prayer, dressed in poor clothes, his carnal brother was passing by, and remarked sarcastically to his companion: “You might tell Francis to sell you a penny’s worth of his sweat.” When the man of God heard this, filled with a wholesome joy, he answered enthusiastically in French: “I will sell that sweat to my Lord at a high price.” – What is Calvary if just beyond it lies and Easter morning! 

14

While he was working steadily at restoring the church, he wanted to have a lamp burning continually in the church, so he went through the city begging for oil. But when he was approaching a certain house, he saw a group of men gathered for a game. Ashamed to beg in front of them, he backed away. Mulling it over, he accused himself of having sinned. Hurrying back to the place where they were playing, he told everyone standing around his fault,  that he was ashamed to beg because of them. And, in fervor of spirit, he entered that house and, for the love of God, begged in French for oil for the lamps of that church. – There are too many people we just leave asleep.

15

While laboring with others in that work, he used to cry to passers-by in a loud voice, filled with joy, saying in French: “Come and help me in the work of the church of San Damiano which, in the future, will be a monastery of ladies through whose fame and life our heavenly Father will be glorified throughout the church.” – The greatest of all disorders is to think that we are whole and do not need help.

16

See how, filled with the spirit of prophecy, he truly foretold the future! For this is that sacred place where the glorious religion and most excellent Order of Poor Ladies and sacred virgins had its happy beginning about six years after the conversion of blessed Francis and through the same blessed Francis. – Life is the childhood of our immortality

Chapter VIII 

HEARING AND UNDERSTANDING THE COUNSELS OF CHRIST IN THE GOSPEL,  

HE IMMEDIATELY CHANGED HIS EXTERNAL GARB  

AND PUT ON A NEW HABIT OF INTERNAL AND EXTERNAL PERFECTION 

17

While he was completing the church of San Damiano, blessed Francis wore the habit of a hermit: a staff in his hand, shoes on his feet, and a leather belt around his waist. Then, one day at Mass, he heard those things which Christ tells the disciples who were sent out to preach, instructing them to carry no gold or silver, a wallet or a purse, bread, walking stick, or shoes, or two tunics. – The only ultimate disaster that can befall us is to feel ourselves at home on this earth.

18

After understanding this more clearly because of the priest, he was filled with indescribable joy. “This,” he said, “is what I want to do with all my strength.” And so, after committing to memory everything he had heard, he joyfully fulfilled them, removed his second garment without delay, and from then on never used a walking stick, shoes, purse, or wallet. – The shortest life is the best if it leads us to the eternal.

19

He made for himself a very cheap and plain tunic, and, throwing the belt away, he girded himself with a cord. Applying all the care of his heart to observe the words of new grace as much as possible, he began, inspired by God, to be a messenger of evangelical perfection and, in simple words, to preach penance in public. His words were neither hollow nor ridiculous, but filled with the power of the Holy Spirit, penetrating the marrow of the heart, so that listeners were turned to great amazement. – To believe in immortality is one thing, but it is necessary to believe in the life.

20

As he later testified, he learned a greeting of this sort by the Lord’s revelation: “May the Lord give you peace!” Therefore, in all his preaching, he greeted the people at the beginning of his sermon with a proclamation of peace…This greeting of peace was used before his conversion by a precursor who frequently went through Assisi greeting the people with “Peace and good! Peace and good!” – Love life, and live it bravely and cheerfully and as faithfully as you can.

21

It seems plausible that, as John heralded Christ but withdrew when Christ began his mission of preaching, so too, like another John, this man preceded Francis in using the greeting of peace, but disappeared when he appeared. – Love is the most real thing in the world.

22

Immediately, therefore, filled with the spirit of the prophets, the man of God, Francis, after that greeting, proclaimed peace preached salvation, and, according to a prophetic passage, by his salutary admonitions, brought to true peace many who had previously lived at odds with Christ and far from salvation. – Our generation is remarkable for the number of people who must believe something but do not know what.

23

As both the truth of blessed Francis’s simple teaching as well as that of his life became known to many, two years after his conversion, some men began to be moved to do penance by his example and, leaving all things, they joined him in life and habit. The first of these was Brother Bernard of holy memory. He knew well how luxuriously blessed Francis had lived in the world; now he observed his constancy and zeal in the divine service, how, in particular, he was restoring dilapidated churches with a great deal of work, and what an austere life he was leading. – We are called to be by grace all that Christ is by nature.

24

He planned wholeheartedly to give everything he possessed to the poor, and, with determination, to join him in life and garb. Thanking God, for he did not then have a companion, blessed Francis was overjoyed, especially since Lord Bernard was a person of great stature. – The one who fulfills responsibility with fear, will always be held with honor.

25

On the appointed evening, blessed Francis came to his house, his heart filled with great joy, and spent that whole night with him. Among many things, Lord Bernard said to him: “If, for many years, someone holds on to the possessions, many or few, he has acquired from his lord, and no longer wishes to keep them, what is the better thing for him to do with them?” Blessed Francis answered that he must give back to the lord what was received from him. And Lord Bernard said: “Then, brother, I want to give away all my worldly goods for the love of my Lord who gave them to me, as it seems best to you.” – You can never be credible to others if first you do not believe what you say in your heart.

26

The saint told him: “We will go to the church early in the morning and, through the book of the Gospels, we will learn how the Lord instructed his disciples.” Rising at daybreak, then, together with another man named Peter, who also wanted to become a brother, they went to the church of San Nicolò next to the piazza of the city of Assisi. – Through Baptism we do not belong to the Church, we are the Church.

27

They prayed devoutly that the Lord would show them his will on opening the book the first time. Once they had finished prayer, blessed Francis took the closed book and, kneeling before the altar, opened it. At its first opening, the Lord’s counsel confronted them: If you wish to be perfect, go, sell everything you possess and give to the poor, and you will have a treasure in heaven. – Truth is always the strongest argument.

28

Blessed Francis was overjoyed when he read this passage and thanked God. But since he was a true worshiper of the Trinity, he desired it to be confirmed by a threefold affirmation. He opened the book a second and a third time. When he opened it up the second time he saw: Take nothing for your journey, etc., and at the third opening: If any man wishes to come after me, he must deny himself, etc. Each time he opened the book, blessed Francis thanked God for confirming his plan and the desire he had conceived earlier. –  Truth exists, only falsehood has to be invented.

29

After the third divine confirmation was pointed out and explained, he said to those men, Bernard and Peter: “Brothers, this is our life and rule and that of all who will want to join our company. Go, therefore, and fulfill what you have heard.” Then Lord Bernard, who was very rich, after selling all he had and acquiring a large sum of money, went and distributed it all to the city’s poor. – Truth is narrow, but error goes off in all directions.

30

Peter likewise followed the divine counsel according to his means. After getting rid of everything, they both received the habit which the saint had adopted after he put aside the habit of a hermit; and, from that hour, they lived with him according to the form of the holy Gospel as the Lord had shown them. This is why blessed Francis said in his Testament: “The Lord Himself revealed to me that I should live according to the form of the holy Gospel.” – We expect too much of God, but He always seems ready.

Daily Thoughts – October 2021 – By Father Francis Sariego, OFM Cap

October 2021 

 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)

 

The following excerpts continue our daily meditations taken from  

The Legend of the Three Companions 

And other spiritual writers 

 

Chapter V 

HOW THE CRUCIFIX SPOKE TO HIM FOR THE FIRST TIME 

AND HOW HE HENCEFORTH CARRIED THE PASSION OF CHRIST IN HIS HEART UNTIL DEATH 

1

One day, when he was more passionately begging for the Lord’s mercy, the Lord showed him that he would be told in the near future what he must do. From that moment on, he was filled with such great joy, that, failing to restrain himself in the face of happiness, he carelessly mentioned some of his secrets to others. – God is with you, God is within you, dwell for a moment in God’s presence.  

2

He nevertheless spoke cautiously and in riddles, saying that he did not want to go to Apulia, but that he would accomplish great and noble deeds at home. His companions noticed the change in him, indeed he was already estranged from them in his thoughts, even though he sometimes joined their company.- Holiness is where we are.

3

And so they asked him as a joke: “Francis, do you want to get married?” He replied to them in a riddle, as we mentioned above. A few days had passed when, while he was walking by the church of San Damiano, he was told in the Spirit to go inside for a prayer. – If you have the virtue of obedience you have all the other virtues.

4

Once he entered, he began to pray intensely before an image of the Crucified, which spoke to him in a tender and kind voice: “Francis, don’t you see that my house is being destroyed? Go, then, and rebuild it for me.” Stunned and trembling, he said: “I will do so gladly, Lord.” For he understood that it was speaking about that church, which was near collapse because of its age. – From silly devotions and sour-faced saints, may the good Lord deliver us! 

5

He was filled with such joy and became so radiant with light over that message, that he knew in his soul that it was truly Christ crucified who spoke to him. Upon leaving the church, he found a priest sitting nearby and, putting his hands into the pouch, he offered him a handful of coins. “My Lord,” he said, “I beg you, buy some oil and keep the light before the Crucified burning continually. When this money runs out, I will again give you as much as you need.” – Union with God is perfect when our will has become free of all things and clings to God alone.

6

From that hour, therefore, his heart was wounded and it melted when remembering the Lord’s passion. While he lived, he always carried the wounds of the Lord Jesus in his heart. This was brilliantly shown afterwards in the renewal of those wounds that were miraculously impressed on and most clearly revealed in his body. – The best way of praying is the way in which we can pray the most fervently.

7

Once he was walking by himself near the church of Saint Mary of the Portiuncula, weeping and wailing loudly. A spiritual man, overhearing him, thought he was suffering some sickness or pain. Moved by piety for him, he asked why he was crying. “I am crying because of the Passion of my Lord,” he said, “for whom I should not be ashamed to go throughout the world crying in a loud voice.” – Perfection does not consist in having spiritual delights but in possessing virtue.

8

Frequently, even when he got up from prayer, his eyes seemed full of blood because he was crying with such bitterness. But, in memory of the Lord’s passion, not only did he afflict himself in tears, he also did so by abstaining from food and drink.- Devotion is devotedness: lifting our  thoughts to God, loving Him, living with Him.

9

Whenever he would eat with seculars, and they would give him some delicious food, he would eat only a little of it, offering some excuse so that it would not seem he was refusing it because of fasting. When he ate with his brothers, he often sprinkled ashes on the food he was eating, telling a brother, as a cover for his abstinence, that “Brother Ash” was chaste.- No heart can ever be empty when God is in it.

10

Once, when he sat down to eat, a brother remarked that the Blessed Virgin was so poor that when it came time to eat, she had nothing to give to her son. When he heard this, the man of God sighed deeply with great sorrow and, after he left the table, he ate bread off the bare ground. – God will always be in the heart when we pray.

11

Many times, in fact, having sat down at table, he had barely begun to eat when he would stop eating and drinking, absorbed in meditation on heavenly things. Then he did not want to be disturbed by any conversation. – To do good without God’s help is impossible.

12

Sighing loudly from the depths of his heart, he would tell the brothers that, whenever they heard him sighing this way, they should always praise God and pray for him faithfully…after that vision and the message of the image of the Crucified, he was always conformed to the passion of Christ until his death. – God is a generous spender, tossing the coins of His grace everywhere with Divine abandon.

 

Chapter VI 

HOW HE ESCAPED FROM THE PERSECUTION OF HIS FATHER AND RELATIVES, 

LIVING WITH THE PRIEST AT THE CHURCH OF SAN DAMIANO 

WHERE HE THREW THE MONEY ON THE WINDOW 

 

13

Overjoyed by the vision and hearing the words of the Crucified Christ, he got up, fortifying himself with the sign of the cross. And mounting his horse and taking cloth of different colors, he arrived at a city named Foligno and, after selling there the horse and everything he was carrying, he returned immediately to the church of San Damiano. – Grace ignored ultimately means grace withheld.

14

After he found a poor priest there, he kissed his hands with great faith and devotion; he offered him the money he was carrying, and explained his purpose in great detail. – Self-reform is impossible, at least difficult and disheartening, without self-knowledge.

15

The priest, astounded and surprised at his sudden conversion, refused to believe this, and, thinking he was being mocked, refused to keep his money. – To know yourself is a life-long study.

16

But stubbornly persisting, he endeavored to create confidence in his words, and he begged the priest more emphatically to allow him to stay with him. Finally the priest agreed to let him stay but, out of fear of his parents, did not accept the money. – Lord that I may know You. Grant that I may know myself.

17

And so the true scorner of money, throwing it on a windowsill, cared for it as much as he cared for dust. – A saint is a person like us who gets what he wants by working for it…a lifetime.

18

While he was staying there, his father, like a diligent spy, went around seeking to learn what might have happened to his son. And when he heard that he was so changed and was living in that place in such a way, he was touched inwardly with sorrow of heart and deeply disturbed by the sudden turn of events. – We must speak to those in need first with our hands before we speak to them with our lips.

19

Calling together his friends and neighbors, he ran to him. Because he was a new knight of Christ, as he heard the threats of his pursuers and knew beforehand of their coming, he left room for his father’s anger; and, going to a secret cave which he had prepared for this, he hid there for a whole month.- The shortest road to heaven is the way of the cross.

20

That cave was known to only one person in his father’s house. He would eat the food that, from time to time, was secretly brought to him there, praying all the while with flowing tears that the Lord would free him from destructive persecution, and that he could favorably fulfill his fervent wishes.- Holiness is a process of slow and steady growth: trying, failing, trying, failing, undaunted, trying again.

21

Strengthened with Christ’s armor of confidence, and burning with divine fervor, he blatantly exposed himself to the threats and blows of his persecutors, accusing himself of laziness and groundless fear. Those who knew him earlier, seeing him now, reproached him harshly – We cannot become good by wishing for it.

22

Shouting that he was insane and out of his mind, they threw mud from the streets and stones at him. For they saw him so changed from his earlier ways and so weakened by starving his body, that they blamed everything he did on starvation and madness. But…neither broken nor changed by any wrong, the knight of Christ gave thanks to God. – To reach heaven we must plant our feet firmly on ground, and take one step at a time, like a child learning to walk.

23

When rumor of this sort spread through the streets and quarters of the city, it finally reached his father. After he heard that the townspeople had done such things to him, he instantly arose to look for him, not to free him, but rather to destroy him. – The most crippling obstacle to holiness is our expecting too much too soon. – If we are determined to do good tomorrow, why not today?

24

Confining him to home and locking him up in a dark prison for several days, he strove, by words and blows, to turn his spirit to the vanities of this world. But, since he was neither moved by words, nor exhausted by chains or blows, he endured all these things patiently, more fit and eager to carry out his holy plan. – Too late have I loved you, Beauty ever ancient ever new.

25

When his father had to leave home on a pressing need, his mother remained at home alone with him. Since she did not approve of her husband’s action, she spoke to her son in gentle words. When she realized she could not dissuade him from his holy intention, moved by her deep feeling for him, she removed the chains, and let him go free. – Without penance we shall never advance beyond mediocrity.

26

More self-confident because of the injuries he had received, he made his way more freely and with an even greater heart. In the meantime his father returned, and not finding his son, he turned on his wife in abuse, heaping sin upon sin. Then the father hurried to the palace of the commune complaining to the city magistrates about his son and asking them to make him return the money he had taken from the house. – Too many are curious to know the lives of others, but careless to amend their own.

27

The magistrates…sent a messenger to summon Francis to appear before them. He told the messenger that he had been made free by God’s grace and, since he was a servant of almighty God alone, was no longer bound by the magistrates. The magistrates told his father: “Because he is in the service of God, he no longer falls within our power.” Francis] answered the messenger: “I will appear before the lord bishop, because he is the father and lord of souls.”Then he came before the bishop and was received by him with great joy. “Your father,” the bishop said to him, “is infuriated and extremely scandalized. If you wish to serve God, return to him the money you have, because God does not want you to spend money unjustly acquired on the work of the church. [Your father’s] anger will abate when he gets the money back. – Without repentance you cannot reform yourself.

28

My son, have confidence in the Lord and act courageously. Do not be afraid, for He will be your help and will abundantly provide you with whatever is necessary for the work of his church.” …he brought the money to him, he said: “My Lord, I will gladly give back not only the money acquired from his things, but even all my clothes.” – Without self-reform there can be no progress in virtue.

29

He took off all his clothes, and, putting the money on top of them, came out naked before the bishop, his father, and all the bystanders, and said: “Listen to me, all of you, and understand. Until now I have called Pietro di Bernardone my father. But, because I have proposed to serve God, I return to him the money on account of which he was so upset, and also all the clothing which is his, wanting to say from now on: ‘Our Father who are in heaven,’ and not ‘My father, Pietro di Bernardone.’- Without progress in virtue we can never come closer to God.

30

At that moment, the man of God was found to be wearing under his colored clothes a hair shirt next to his skin. Then his father, overcome with unbearable pain and anger, took the money and all the clothing. Those who were present at this spectacle…Moved by piety, they began to weep over him. – Where the human spirit fails, the Holy Spirit fills.

31

The bishop, focusing his attention on the man of God’s frame of mind and enthusiastically admiring his fervor and determination, gathered him into his arms, covering him with his mantle. For he clearly understood his deeds were prompted by divine counsel, and realized that what he had seen contained no small mystery. And so, from that moment, he became his helper, exhorting, encouraging, loving, and embracing him with the depths of his charity. – Live the Gospel without compromise. Live Jesus!