Thoughts from our Formation Director - April 2017

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

This article comes to you while we all still in the season of Lent. I do hope your journey through the remainder of Lent and through Holy Week will bring Easter Joy and many blessings to each and every one.

I would like to share with you at this time the prayer I have been using during lent. When we get to Holy week I will be using The Geste of the Great King OFFICE OF THE PASSION OF FRANCIS OF ASSISI. It was written by Laurant Gallant OFM and Andre’ Cirino OFM

When reading please take time to reflect and to apply it to our lives as Franciscans:

Holy One who journeys with me on the road of life with its hills and valleys.

May I recognize the daily cross that is mine and carry this burden in a trustful way, confident that the undesired parts of my life can be guides to my spiritual growth.

Teach me how to be with my personality traits that I consider unworthy or unacceptable.

Inspire me to release my tight grip when I wrestle with the resistant part of myself that insists on having everything in life turn out the way I desire or demand.

Increase my awareness of the false judgements and unfair expectations that quickly arise to crowd out kindness and compassion for myself and others.

Lessen unrestrained fears and wearisome worries that keep us imprisoned in turmoil and confusion and, thus, lessen my spirits strength and courage.

Soften any hardness of heart I have toward another. Increase my ability to be understanding. Help me topple the walls that prevent my being a forgiving person.

Expand my perception of the good things my life already holds. Decrease apprehension about not having enough, doing enough, or growing enough. Awaken the undying song of hope in my soul as I carry my unwanted cross each day, so that even in the worst of times I continue to trust you to provide for what is needed.

Confident of your grace and daily empowerment, I give myself to you as fully as I am able at this time. As I carry the burden that is mine, remind me often that you are always with me and never against me. I rest my desire for union with you and into your loving care, Amen

Blessings to all at Easter.

Peace and Joy,
Rose

Thoughts from our Regional Spiritual Director - March 2017

Brothers and Sisters,

This year lent begins on March 1st. Once again we dedicate ourselves to follow and imitate Jesus, through self-denial and experience conversion through Gospel living in solidarity.

I am presently reading The Franciscan Heart of Thomas Merton by Dan Horan OFM. In it, Ilia Delio, OFS, offers a reflection on this experience of conversion according to the Franciscan Tradition. She writes:

True poverty creates community because it converts self-sufficiency into creative interdependency where the mystery unfolds for us. Only those who can see and feel for another can love another without trying to possess the other. Poverty is that free and open space within the human heart that enables us to listen to the other, to respect the other and to trust the other without feeling that something vital will be taken from us. . . .Conversion to poverty and humility is the nucleus of Christian evolution because it is the movement to authentic love; a movement from isolated “oneness” toward mutual relatedness, from individualism toward community, where Christ is revealed in the union of opposites in the web of life.

The culmination of this experience of change in Francis life took place in his life when he renounced his social status and perhaps taking too literal the words of Jesus, “Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, even life itself, cannot be my disciple”(Lk.14:26) » Click to continue reading “Thoughts from our Regional Spiritual Director – March 2017” »

Thoughts from the Regional Formation Director

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Let us begin again.

It was in the third Sunday of Ordinary time that we listened to the reading of Isaiah 9:1

The people who walked in darkness have a seen great light; upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom a light has shone.

Now we are celebrating this month the Presentation of the Lord celebrated 40 days after Christmas, almost as though we don’t want the joy of Christmas to be forgotten and really it should not. It is like a post Epiphany. Christmas should be everyday with joy hope and the light of Christ in our hearts.

Here we are recalling Simeon’s words calling Christ “the light to the nations” We have the custom of blessing the candles for Church and in the home. The popular day was called Candlemas. The candles that are blessed are a symbol of the offering of Christ, they are consumed by the flame and so light is spread about.

This feast is also a meeting where we come to meet Christ the light so that we can become as St. Paul puts it to become “children of the light”

As the Church joyfully celebrates this feast she reminds us that we are to share in the mission of bringing God’s peace and good news to all people as Catholics and especially in our Franciscan vocation. Mary our Mother and patron of the order, Joseph and the faithful priest Simeon and Anna give us examples of joy and hope in God’s plan.

If we meditate on these events we can apply them to our lives as Franciscans. We also can look to the Prayer Intention of our Holy Father Pope Francis for the month of February, COMFORT FOR THE AFFLICTED especially the poor, refugees, and marginalized may they find welcome and comfort in all our communities.

We also know St. Clare (named Chiara which means light) as a young child followed her mother Ortolana feeding the hungry and caring for the sick.

Let us pray: Most high, glorious God, enlighten the darkness of my heart and give me, Lord a correct faith, certain hope, a perfect charity, sense and knowledge, so that I may carry out Your holy and true command.

Thoughts from the Regional Formation Director - December 2016

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Happy Advent!

We all know that St. Francis created the first Crèche in history. Celano writes (1Celano 84-86) that when Francis went to the Holy Land he had gone to Bethlehem, bringing home with him the memory of the town where the Savior was born. He then reproduced the scene of the Nativity on the famous Christmas Eve in Greccio.

I came across an interesting article entitled No Nativity, No Eucharist by Tony Angesi (wife Diane) It captured so much of what we encounter as Franciscans, reflective and most significant of the Holy Birth. Luke2:7 “And she gave birth to her first born son and wrapped Him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger…..

We all have the quiet place in our homes where we chose to perhaps make a phone call or just get away from the noise & activity of the day. It is our quiet room. This is where Diane sets up the Nativity scene every year. This place for Tony & Diane has become a place where they enjoy going to pray & reflect on the birth of our Savior.

In contemplation of the scene, they realized for the first time that the Eucharist was a continuation of the Nativity, the coming of Christmas. The manger a simple trough where the animals were fed, held the same body of Jesus the bread of life which we are fed in the sacrament of the Eucharist.

When Tony received communion the next day at daily Mass as he held the Blessed Sacrament in his cupped hands, for a moment he thought, “my hands represent the manger as I hold Jesus body soul & divinity” and his mind went back to the manger where they both prayed the night before. In that moment the stable where Jesus was born (Bethlehem “House of Bread”) became the tabernacle and the manger became the ciborium.

We as Franciscans remember what St. Francis quoted, “I see nothing bodily of the Most High Son of God in this world except His most holy body and blood”, should be the inspiration and pattern of their Eucharistic life. (Rule 5)

May we be strengthened during this Advent season and be your faithful servant in the world. Let us look to Mary who said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.”

To you and yours, Have a Blessed Christmas of Peace!  Rose

Thoughts from your Regional Formation Director – November 2016

Following the Gift of God’s Mercy

As we come to the close of the “Year of Mercy” on November 20th, you and I can look back and recollect, how did I cultivate mercy in my daily life? In our family? And how about in our fraternities?

Undoubtly there are many issues within the Church being revisited as a result of the “Year of Mercy.” We know that mercy is not something we should live just for one year. It is to be forefront as compassion in our lives, so we may be the mercy of God to all we meet.

I’d like to share a few excerpts taken from the text, The Life of Saint Francis” written by St. Bonaventure (1217-1274) taken from the very Prologue to the biography. Bonaventure writes that one of the Divine perfections that is clearly reflected in St. Francis was Divine Mercy. (pg.105)

In these latter days the grace of God our Savior has appeared in his servant Francis and to all who are truly humble and a lover of holy poverty. In him they can venerate God’s superabundant mercy and be taught by his example to live in conformity with Christ, and to thirst after blessed hope with unfailing desire. In (Chap.11) section 6. Another time a woman devoted to God had an abusive husband who hindered her in the service of Christ. She besought the holy man to pray for her, that God of His clemency would soften the heart of her husband. “Go in peace” said the man of God, for in a short time you will receive consolation from thy husband, and he added: “Tell him from God and from me that now is the time of Mercy. It shall be a time of justice. And so returning home the woman gave the message to her husband and suddenly the Holy Spirit fell upon him, and in a mild voice he uttered “Lady let us serve the Lord and save our souls.

In a biography entitled: Francis of Assisi The man who found perfect joy, Michael de la Bedoyere writes that when Francis lay dying he asked his brothers to sing with him “The Canticle of the Sun” which he composed in praise of his Creator. It was Brother Elias who protested and asked Francis “Should you not keep recollected and silent” pg.302 Francis replied “O let me rejoice in Him for all my sufferings and by grace feel so close to the Lord, that in the knowledge of His mercy, I can sing again.

Resource: The Message of Saint Francis and Divine Mercy by the Marians of the Immaculate Conception

Resource: Introduction to Compassion Living In the Spirit of St. Francis    Ilia Delio O.S.F.

The transformation into love in Francis life making whole of the scattered fragments of life was compassion. Francis is an art of healing broken hearts by collecting the tears of the forgotten, frightened and the lonely in his hands holding the wounded as his kin. He entered the world of the stranger and made him his brother. He learned to love what was weak, fragile and to care for what the world discarded.

The Life of St. Francis by Bonaventure,  for your research Chapters 9,26,&45 (on mercy)

In closing, let us ask ourselves this question “How have we shown mercy in our lives”?

May God who is rich in mercy, give us the grace of a merciful heart. Have a Blessed Thanksgiving!!

Rose

Formation Workshop

THE JOY OF GETTING IT RIGHT

FORMATION WORKSHOP

WHERE:  SAINT JOSEPH OBLATES SEMINARY

1880 Highway 315, Laflin, PA 18640

DATE:     SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 12TH

TIME:       9:00 A.M. – 3:00 P.M.

PRESENTERS:  ROSE VIRAGH, OFS

STEPHAINIE WIECER, OFS

RSVP:         BY OCTOBER 24TH to

Rose Viragh, OFS

732-408-6653

perfectjoy112@gmail.com

This is a “brown bag lunch” event, so please bring your lunch with you.  A continental breakfast will be provided as well as beverages for lunch.  A free will offering will be taken to help defray the cost of the day.

 

Highlighting the Workshop

Highlighting the Formation Workshop

It was a great joy to see so many brothers and sisters who attended the formation workshop. I called this workshop as a result of difficulties and problems in some fraternities in our Region.

Our first presenter, Stephanie Wiecer OFS, talked about the necessary guidelines that are our governing documents along with our formation resources that explain the process of formation and especially how Canon law dictates the universal law of the church following that law.

Being loving and compassionate to people coming into the order is very important; however, we must be aware of those Red Flags which would say to us that the person may not be a right fit for the Order. A few examples: those who refuse to go through formation because they were in a Religious order. We also know that they have to have a dispensation from the Order they were in. We must make sure that a person is fully initiated into the Catholic church and get a letter from their pastor that they are in good standing with the Catholic church. In addition to that we should get copies of the certificates issued when they received the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and Matrimony (if married) and if it applies, a copy of annulment papers. This should be done before the Inquiry phase or at least at the beginning of Orientation.

I also wanted to share with you the three quotes which I think are very important to all of us, that “Fraternity is a privileged place”, “Yes this is what I want” the words we promise at our Profession and important and most profound “a true nuptial alliance”

Do you believe that your fraternity is a privileged place” to gather with members to build up the Kingdom of God? Is participation in fraternal life essential?

We need to read and re-read Father Felice Cangelosi’s “The Profession in the SFO.” How profound, “a true nuptial alliance with Jesus Christ aimed at a further consecration to God, to accomplish a closer bond to the church to reach the perfection of love and realization of Francis mission.

Our Order by its very nature was constantly confirmed by the Sovereign Pontiffs (Benedict XV encyclical “Sacra Propedium”,  On the Third Order of Saint Francis. Pope Pius Xll said Francis could be called “a second Christ”.)

Let us pray daily and reflect on our Franciscan vocation and spirituality to keep it fresh and enlivening and for our entire Order.      (Resources: The Lark, newsletter St. Bonaventure frat. ,The Formation Workshop and Felice Cangelosi’s “The Profession in the SFO”)

We will be having a workshop hopefully on November 12th not the 19th said previously, there was a conflict in the calendar with the 19th.  The place TBD STAY TUNED!

This will not just be for PA North but for those who could not make the first workshop in Hammonton, NJ.  ALL ARE INVITED!!

Peace and every good,

Rose

September Thoughts From Our Regional Formation Director

Brothers and Sisters,

Peace be with you!

One of the talks presented at the Q was entitled Violence and Peacemaking given by Fr. Dan Horan O.F.M. I found it interesting that he used the Canticle of Brother Sun telling us that this was the journey of Francis’ life in creating the Canticle.

Francis dreamed of being a knight, but then became a prisoner of war. His transformation then took the path he chose to live, “the Gospel life” sound familiar? Father Dan noted “how can humans be true to themselves and get beyond the “original sin” of not being what God wants us to be. It is the non-violence & peacemaking that is the heart of the Franciscan Tradition.

Once a person recognizes the “divine dignity” of every created being he or she has a responsibility to give glory to God by respecting, caring, promoting and a sense of “being in this together” that life is one and each of us brings a special contribution.

Saint Francis Canticle is not just a flowery song about how we should live with nature. It is a challenge to revise our entire way of living. Our rule dictates that we are to be instruments of peace. We do not think like the world in its poor example but to live in peace. This is our call as Franciscans and sons and daughters of God. We are to be brother and sister to one another and part of a family that embraces all creation.

We can compare the struggles of life to Blessed Theresa of Calcutta who will be canonized on September 4th. In her letters that were written we read that she went through such darkness in her life and so even in all of the turmoil she like our Father Saint Francis became the mercy of God which illuminated the whole world radiating God’s love. “Let there be peace on earth”……..and let it begin with me.

“Jesus, teach me to choose peace rather than conflict.”

May the Lord give you his peace!! Your sister in Christ, Rose

(Resources: Fr. Dan Horan O.F.M., National Catholic Register and Rosie)

A Pilgrimage With Francis and Clare

st clare_with_flowersDear Brothers and Sisters,

Most recently I have had the privilege of attending a talk given by Father Michael O.F.M. Conv. Parochial Vicar of St. Peter Church in Point Pleasant. It was held in Neptune at the Upper Room.

The talk was entitled “ A Pilgrimage with Francis and Clare”. It was so refreshing to hear those events which took place which lead up to the sainthood of Francis and Clare. There was so much I didn’t know about the history of Assisi at the time of Francis and Clare or could I humbly say I forgot.

The vision for Francis and Clare was to embrace Christ with their all, humbly with faith. Beginning with The Prayer before the Crucifix and then The Canticle of the Creatures made this evident and with the excerpt from the Third letter to Agnes of Prague, Place your mind in the mirror of eternity; Place your soul in the splendor of glory; Place your heart in the figure of the divine substance; and, through contemplation, transform your entire being into the image of the Divine One himself, so that you, yourself, may also experience what his friends experience when they taste the hidden sweetness that God alone has kept from the beginning for those who love Him. This signifies that in the Eucharist we are transformed into the Image of Christ.

The part of the talk I enjoyed hearing the most was that Clare was the first woman to write a rule, and in 1215 the Lateran Council IV Pope Clement approved her rule August the 9th. She died two days after.

In 1253 in spite of rules being written for other communities this is when the Pope said there were enough rules written and so they got rid of Clare’s rule. They were given the rule of Saint Benedict to follow.

In the 1900th century they interred her body she was found incorrupt and holding a copy of her rule in her hands and so therefore we have her rule.

Let me close with an intention for the novena prayer of Saint Clare.

Pope Francis has asked us to live as evangelizers within our families and in the world. May we open our hearts to the world’s pain, in a desire to be identified with

the Passion of Jesus that is being lived out in our world. We are to care for our Earth with reverence for all forms of life. We entrust to the healing power of St. Clare that we may faithfully follow the Light of the Gospel and become instruments of Peace in our World.

Peace be with you all,

Rose

 

 

 

 

 

Servant Leadership from our Regional Formation Director

Brothers and Sisters,

When we talk about Servant Leadership we first look to Christ as Leader. In Matthew 20-27 we read, whoever ranks first among you must serve the needs of all. I did not come to be served but to serve. At the last supper Jesus washed the feet of his disciples to leave us an example.

Let us look at Article 21 of our rule which states, on various levels of fraternity is animated and guided by a council and Minister who are professed and elected according to the Constitutions.

The description of each position on fraternity council is listed in our Constitutions from 49-52.

In the Earlier Rule of St. Francis Chapter Vll we read “And whoever comes to them friend or foe, thief or robber, they should be received with kindness.

Clare in her rule for her Poor Ladies as they were first called we read “She should strive well to preside over the others more by her virtues and holy behavior then by her office.”

We know that Leaders and Servants and that we are all responsible for every member in fraternity.

Although we are called to serve fraternity some servant leadership positions call for skills and talents. It is important when electing a council to be sure the person’s gifts and abilities fit the position.

The form of servant leaders takes place as we call upon the animator, which is the Holy Spirit. We need to be open to the many ways the Holy Spirit speaks to us and the grace of God.

Describe your understanding of being a servant-leader? What are some qualities needed by a servant leader?

How can we apply Francis Earlier Rule to being a servant leader? How about Clare and her rule?

What are some responsibilities of a local fraternity council?