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

November 2020

Most High, all-powerful, good Lord, 

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

To you alone, Most High, do they belong, 

and no human is worthy to mention Your name. 

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

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

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

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

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

from whom no one living can escape. 

Woe to those who die in mortal sin. 

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

for the second death shall do them no harm. 

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

Amen. 

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

 

Following are excerpts taken from The Legend of the Three Companions 

 

Chapter X 

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

ON THEIR JOURNEYS THROUGHOUT THE WORLD EXHORTING THEM TO PENANCE 

1

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

2

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

3

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

4

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

5

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

6

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

7

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

8

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

9

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

10

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

11

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

12

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

13

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

14

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

15

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

16

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

17

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

18

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

19

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

20

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

21

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

22

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

23

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

24

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

25

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

26

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

27

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

 

Chapter XI 

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

FOR EACH OF THE FIRST BROTHERS, 

OF THEIR EAGERNESS IN WORKING AND PRAYING AND THEIR PERFECT OBEDIENCE 

28

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

29

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

30

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

 

 

 

 

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

October 2020

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

their one and only consolation, there is little comfort… 

they still .. tearfully cry out to you: O father, 

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

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

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

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

Amen. 

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

Following are excerpts taken from The Legend of the Three Companions 

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

HE IMMEDIATELY CHANGED HIS EXTERNAL GARB 

AND PUT ON A NEW HABIT OF INTERNAL AND EXTERNAL PERFECTION 

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

2  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

10 

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

11 

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

12 

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

13 

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

14 

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

15 

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

16 

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

17 

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

18 

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

19 

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

20 

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

21 

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

 

Chpt. IX – THE VOCATION OF BROTHER SYLVESTER 

AND THE VISION HE HAD BEFORE ENTERING THE ORDER 

22 

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

23 

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

24 

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

25 

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

26 

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

27 

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

28 

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

29 

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

30 

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

31 

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

 

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

September 2020 

 

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

so that, through the prayers and merits of the 

holy and glorious Virgin Mary, His Mother, 

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

the Lord Himself, Who has given a good beginning, 

may give increase and may also give final perseverance. 

Amen. 

(The Testament of St. Clare of Assisi)

 

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

 

1

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

2

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

3

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

4

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

5

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

6

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

7

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

8

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

9

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

10

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

11

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

12

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

13

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

14

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

15

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

16

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

17

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

18

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

19

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

20

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

21

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

22

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

23

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

24

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

25

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

26

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

27

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

28

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

29

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

30

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

 

St. Francis “conversation” with Lady Poverty 

(below continues the chapter quoted above)

 

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

 

 

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

August 2020

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

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

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

Who alone is kind, innocent, pure,  

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

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

Let us all, wherever we are 

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

Amen. 

(Saint Francis of Assisi)

1

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

2

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

3

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

4

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

5

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

6

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

7

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

8

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

9

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

10

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

11

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

12

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

13

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

14

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

15

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

16

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

17

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

18

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

19

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

20

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

21

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

22

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

23

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

24

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

25

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

26

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

27

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

28

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

29

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

30

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

31

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

 

 

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

July  2020

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

Holy and just Father, Lord King of heaven and earth

we thank You for Yourself, for through Your holy will

and through Your only Son with the holy Spirit

You have created everything spiritual and corporal

… making us in Your own image and likeness,…

We thank You…

1

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

2

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

3

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

4

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

5

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

6

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

7

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

8

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

9

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

10

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

11

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

12

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

13

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

14

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

15

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

16

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

17

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

18

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

19

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

20

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

21

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

22

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

23

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

24

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

25

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

26

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

27

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

28

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

29

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

30

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

31

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

 

 

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

June 2020

 

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

Holy and just Father, Lord King of heaven and earth

we thank You for Yourself, for through Your holy will

and through Your only Son with the holy Spirit

You have created everything spiritual and corporal

… making us in Your own image and likeness…

We thank You.

 

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

 

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

1

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

2

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

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

3

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

4

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

5

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

6

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

7

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

8

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

9

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

10

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

11

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

12

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

13

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

14

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

15

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

16

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

17

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

18

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

19

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

20

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

21

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

22

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

23

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

24

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

25

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

26

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

27

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

28

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

29

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

30

Let every creature in heaven, on earth, in the sea and in the depths, give praise, glory, honor and blessing To Him Who suffered so much, Who has given and will give in the future every good, for He is our power and strength, Who alone is good, Who alone is almighty, Who alone is omnipotent, wonderful, glorious and Who alone is holy, worthy of praise and blessing through endless ages. Amen – Drawing closer to the light of Christ, our fears are gone, remorse is swallowed up in the intense love of Christ.

 

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

May 2020

 

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

and the one chosen by the most holy Father in heaven

whom He consecrated with His most holy beloved Son

and with the Holy Spirit the Paraclete,

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

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

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

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

are poured into the hearts of the faithful so that from

their faithless state you may make them faithful to God.

(Salutation of the Blessed Virgin)

 

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

1

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

2

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

3

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

4

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

5

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

6

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

7

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

8

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

9

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

10

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

11

Francis used to say that, because of the office of prelacy or of zeal for preaching, they should not abandon holy and devout prayer, going for alms, and working at times with their hands, and performing other humble tasks like the other brothers, for good example and for the benefit of their souls, as well as others. (Mirror,chpt.73) – Jonah tried to run away from God’s Will and acceptance of his responsibilities, but he could not run from God.

12

He said that (ministers of the word of God) were heralds chosen by a great king. For he used to say: The preacher must first secretly draw in by prayer what he later pours out in sacred preaching; he must first of all grow warm on the inside, or he will speak frozen words on the outside.  (2Celano,chpt.122) – God still replies in the negative to those who claim a special relationship, but try to escape from responsibilities, or fall into a narrow, self-centered outlook.

13

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

14

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

15

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

16

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

17

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

18

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

19

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

20

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

21

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

22

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

23

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

24

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

25

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

26

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

27

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

28

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

29

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

30

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

31

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

 

 

 

Thought for the Day by Father Francis – March 2020

March 2020

All-powerful God,

everlasting, just and good,

of ourselves we are nothing but poverty;

but grant, for your own sake,

that we may do what we know is your will,

and always desire what is pleasing to you…

Amen.

(Conclusion of the Letter to the Entire Order)

Following are daily excerpts taken from various Franciscan sources. 

Daily meditative phrases from various sources

1

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

2

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

3

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

4

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

5

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

6

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

7

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

8

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

9

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

10

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

11

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

12

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

13

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

14

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

15

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

16

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

17

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

18

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

19

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

20

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

21

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

22

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

23

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

24

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

25

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

26

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

27

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

28

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

29

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

30

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

31

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

 

 

 

 

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

January 2020

 

Most High, Glorious God,

enlighten the darkness of our minds.

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

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

Amen.

(Saint Francis of Assisi)

1

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

2

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

3

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

4

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

5

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

6

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

7

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

8

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

9

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

10

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

11

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

12

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

13

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

14

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

15

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

16

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

17

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

18

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

19

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

20

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

21

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

22

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

23

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

24

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

25

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

26

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

27

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

28

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

29

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

30

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

31

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

BLESSED AND MERRY CHRISTMAS

HAPPY NEW YEAR – 2020!

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

December 2019

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

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

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

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

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

Amen.

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

 

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

1

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

2

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

3

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

4

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

5

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

6

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

7

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

8

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

9

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

10

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

11

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

12

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

13

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

14

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

15

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

16

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

17

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

18

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

19

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

20

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

21

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

22

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

23

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

24

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

25

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

26

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

27

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

28

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

29

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

30

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

31

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

 

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

GOD’S BLESSINGS ON EVERYONE!

MAY IT BE A YEAR FILLED WITH GOD’S

PEACE AND BLESSINGS