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?

The Whole-hearted Beauty of St. Anthony

St. Anthony of Padua tree

Saint of the Month

The Whole-hearted beauty of St. Anthony

Our beloved St. Anthony of Padua born Fernando Bulhones was the son of a distinguished Portuguese family who served the Church and king in the 13th century. His baptized name, Fernando, meant “seeker” or “peace combatant,” a moniker looking to a future leader’s pathways.

In his childhood, the young Fernando would make it clear that he aimed to serve Jesus.  By the year 1221, he had been two years an Augustinian priest, devout and brilliant but with a profound love of the Gospel and the poor.

By the grace of God, Fr. Fernando transferred and became a Franciscan taking the name Anthony. He was led to a life of radical poverty and hermit life…taking the example of the 4th Century Egyptian hermit, Anthony, the father of Christian monasticism.

By learning to surrender his own will to serve God, knowing that is the heart of Christian living. He became a great teacher, confessor, preacher and father to the poorest of the poor. His homilies still speak to us today. As a great preacher and priest he always spoke of putting God first in our lives using the First Commandment You shall love the Lord, your God, with your whole heart… His sermons drew thousands. Hold back no corner of your heart, he said, when praying especially in asking pardon for our sins. He cited that the dear Lord’s Sacred Heart opened for us to show a love, which brought Him to the Cross, so much was his love for us and he forgave our sins to welcome us to our eternal home.

It was understood by Anthony in giving our all even to his Body and Blood he will take our “all” and will give it back to us. With a new heart cleansed and purified by God one that will never break or wear out the Eternal Life God waits for us.

The moral of his sermon: When we have to make choices, it is easier with a heart full of love, a love-filled heart burning with the image of God’s own heart.

Did you know?

That St. Anthony did not live in Padua for an extended period until 1230, the year before he died.

In the spring of 1231 he withdrew with Brothers Luke and Roger to nearby Camposampiero, where he had a treehouse hermitage. He worked on sermon notes for the major feasts of the saints and had already completed notes for the Sunday Gospels. On June 13, he died at the friary in Arcella, having received the Anointing of the Sick and holy Communion.(resources used FMA focus and St. Anthony’s Messenger.)

For further Research

The symbolism of the Walnut Tree. Christ as the Tree of Life.

Friar Jack’s E-Spirations  2007

 

 

From Our Regional Formation Director

Peace be with you! Brothers and sisters,

Well here we are coming close to the end of the Easter Season which hopefully leads us to a new a joyous beginning.

This month is filled with many feasts and celebrations and so what do I choose for the topic of this month’s formation topic??

Although we are rich in our resources for topics to choose, I decided that I would find something different which would correlate Our Lady and Pentecost which are a part of this month’s feasts and celebrations.

It so happened while researching I came up with the Post Vatican ll Magesterial documents about 15 in all.

I will list three of them with the paragraph number and the rest is for your research should you chose to do so. I found it very interesting and a cause for giving a talk and research. The theme: Mary’s Life Pentecost.

LUMEN GENTIUM 1964 * before the day of Pentecost “persevering with one mind in prayer with the women and Mary the Mother of Jesus, and with his brethren (Acts 1:14) 59

*and we also see Mary by her prayers imploring the gift of the Spirit, who had already overshadowed her in the Annunciation 59

BEHOLD YOUR MOTHER (USA) 1973 * there are striking likenesses between the Annunciation & Pentecost. Mary the great mother figure for the Church, is present not only at the Annunciation, but praying with her Son’s disciples before Pentecost 79

*After Christ’s resurrection, surrounded by His disciples, Mary prayed for the coming of that same Spirit, in order that the church, the Body of her Son, might be born in Pentecost. 115

CATEHESI TRANDENDATE 1979 * Virgin of Pentecost (title invoking her intercession) 73

These documents also lead to subtitles as well.

Resource: The Marian Library/International Marian Research Institute

Blessings, Rose

Easter Joy

Brothers and Sisters, May the peace of the Risen Christ be with you all!

Moving forward as Regional Formation Director it is my privilege to serve you once again. I will continue to visit fraternities and ask that if you have any suggestions I am available for you.  For instance, if you would like me to prepare Ongoing formation when I visit, I can do that or simply walk you through the phases of formation.

I was speaking to someone who finds it difficult using all the information in the grid going across the page. You are only to pick the most recommended text which is the Franciscan Journey or those mentioned in the Regional formation handbook which are from pages 177 to 183. In each lesson, you should include the Rule, Scripture, writing of Francis and Clare, and at times the Papal encyclicals.  The Franciscan Journey book is also set up where you have reading suggestions above your questions at the end of the chapters.  If time allows, you can then select some of the suggestions and the supplements in the FUN manual as well. As local Formation Director some of my lessons are from 11/2 to 21/2 hours.

At some point this year, there will be a workshop for formators. What we hope to do is have the same workshop in two different areas so that all Formation Directors will be able to attend one or the other. The dates will be announced later.

I have heard from some fraternities and hope that you will come with suggestions. This is a learning time for all. We do not teach we learn, form, but above all serve.

Pax et bonum,

Love,

Rose