Prayer for the Servant Leader

Brothers and sisters,

Jen Drees, OFS (Regional Formation Director) has started monthly “office hours” with local fraternity formation directors.  During their Zoom meetings, they have used a prayer resource from the National Fraternity USA website under “Pray with Us/Prayers for Fraternal Life.”


As many fraternities in our region prepare for their Chapters of Election, let us consider making this a part of our personal and communal prayer patterns.  The very opening of this prayer is a testament to someone seeking out and desiring to do God’s will:

“Jesus, meek and humble of heart, make my heart like Your own.”

Let us always be open to the Holy Spirit to guide and animate us at every level of fraternity!

Peace and all good,

Teresa S. Redder, OFS

St. Katharine Drexel Regional Minister

August 2023-Joyful Gospel Living

Living the Good News

“You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

In the music issue of our parish hymnal (Today’s Missal), there is a beautiful hymn called “The Jesus Song” (#413).  Tom Booth, the composer, based this song on the treasured Jesus Prayer and the Chaplet of Divine Mercy.  It seems like a simple song at first: two distinct parts that are repeated as a chant.  Whenever I hear or sing this song, however, it reminds me of St. Peter affirming to Jesus: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”  By singing from the heart, we tell Jesus that we trust in Him.

Earlier this month, my husband Jeff and I hosted a Zoom call for our monthly Franciscan Justice Circle.  Each month, our Delaware Valley members choose a theme, and when we gather, we spend an hour in focusing on an important theme and sharing how it affects our lives.

In conjunction with the US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), the Catholic Climate Covenant organized a national conference between June 14th and July 27th with nine webinars.  The theme for the conference was “Laudato Si’ and the US Catholic Church: A Conference Series on Our Common Home.”  Several of our Circle members participated in these webinars.  One of our members thought that the webinar on Ecological Spirituality was worthy of our attention in August, as it offered a spiritual prelude to the Season of Care for Creation (Sept. 1-Oct. 4).  The presenter was Sr. Mary Beth Ingham, CSJ (General Superior, Sisters of St. Joseph of Orange).

The purpose of the national conference was to encourage a greater understanding of the Laudato Si’ Action Platform’s seven goals: (1) Response to the Cry of the Poor; (2) Ecological Economics; (3)Adoption of Sustainable Lifestyle; (4) Ecological Education; (5) Ecological Spirituality; (6) Community Resilience and Empowerment; and (7) Response to the Cry of the Earth.

This weekend, we are invited to reflect upon Christ in our lives—the Son of the living God.  Where do we find Christ?  Do we see God in all Creation?  Are we good guardians of God’s Creation?  Are we curious about Church teaching on how to care for our common home?  If not, how do we get started?

Earlier this summer, the ecumenical Season of Creation website posted planning materials for this year’s celebration.  In the introduction to the planning guide, the organizers expressed their vision:

“Each year from September 1 to October 4, the Christian family unites for this worldwide celebration of prayer and action to protect our common home. As followers of Christ from around the globe, we share a common call to care for creation. We are co-creatures and part of all that God has made. Our wellbeing is interwoven with the wellbeing of the Earth. We rejoice in this opportunity to safeguard our common home and all beings who share it. This year, the theme for the season is ‘Let justice and peace flow.’”

What is ecological spirituality?  In order to appreciate its value in our lives, it requires discernment on our part.  Like the encyclical Laudato Si’, it asks us to see the connection between care for the Earth and care for the poor—an integral ecology.  To live in the spirit of ecological spirituality, we are to respond to Christ’s call to ongoing conversion of heart.  Sr. Mary Beth used a quote from St. Francis of Assisi to open our eyes and hearts to the challenges that we face:

“Be conscious… of the wondrous state in which the Lord God has placed you, for He created you and formed you to the image of His beloved Son according to the body, and to His likeness according to the spirit.  (Admonition 5)”

From the moment of our Baptism, we are formed into the Body of Christ and become God’s sons and daughters.  We witness to the living Christ powerfully through the sacramental action of our Church.  When we celebrate the Eucharist as a community, the Word of God and the Eucharist send us into the world with renewed purpose: to bring the light of Christ to the world.  Sr. Mary Beth’s Powerpoint slides can be found in their entirety at this link:

Ecological Spirituality”  (PowerPoint Slides)

In the Season of Creation planning guide, there is a section devoted to quotes from ecumenical church leaders about the theme of “Let Justice and Peace Flow.”  Each input reflects a deep appreciation for Christ as the Son of the living God.  Here is one that invites us to commit our lives to Christ:

“This Season of Creation will be an opportunity to pray, reflect and act together as the People of God for our common home. Like tributaries joining forces to become a mighty river, the ecumenical family will come together on a synodal path of care for our common home through justice and peace.”  (Sister Alessandra Smerilli, Secretary of the Vatican Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development)

The responsorial psalm (Ps. 138) is a beautiful acclamation of God’s constant love and presence in His Creation. In his encyclical, Pope Francis urged people of good will to treasure God’s gifts to us:

“The urgent challenge to protect our common home includes a concern to bring the whole human family together to seek a sustainable and integral development, for we know that things can change. Humanity still has the ability to work together in building our common home. Young people demand change. They wonder how anyone can claim to be building a better future without thinking of the environmental crisis and the sufferings of the excluded.”  (Laudato Si’, n. 13)

Let our hands work together as God’s hands:

“Forsake not the work of Your hands.”

August 2023-Joyful Gospel Living

2023 Pope Francis & CIOFS Prayer Intentions

Brothers and sisters,

Here is a helpful resource to use for your fraternity newsletters and preparations for fraternal gatherings.  The PDF file comes from the CIOFS website.

Peace and all good,



Great idea to tuck away for December!

JPIC News - May 2022 - Jeff Redder, OFS, Regional JPIC Animator

Saint Katharine Drexel Region
Secular Franciscan Order (USA)
Justice, Peace, & the Integrity of Creation
May 2022
“A synodal Church, in announcing the Gospel, ‘journeys together.’ How is this ‘journeying together’ happening today in your local Church? What steps does the Spirit invite us to take in order to grow in our ‘journeying together’?(Preparatory Document for the 16th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, 7 September 2021)
For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, and Mission

Jeffrey C. Redder, OFS
23 Shelter Rock Rd.
Eastampton, NJ 08060 609-267-1460 (H)
609-667-3443 (M)
JPIC Reflection

As Catholics, Secular Franciscans should have great hope that we might soon see the overturning of the unjust Roe v. Wade decision, which legalized the right to abortion and denied the right to life to the unborn. It behooves us to pay attention to what may happen at the state level as federal guidelines change so that we continue to advocate for the dignity of human life (a fundamental Catholic social teaching) in the states where
we live and closely follow state legislative actions that are inconsistent with the teachings of our faith.

This year, the Catholic social lobby group Network marks its 50th anniversary. Founded by religious sisters, this agency has worked tirelessly to advocate for the poor, the homeless, immigrants and refugees, and the marginalized. Their most recent newsletter celebrates the many accomplishments of this Catholic lobby group over five decades and continues to put in the forefront the key issues that impact the dignity of human life in our country.

In August, the National Fraternity of OFS-USA will have a Quinquennial Congress in Phoenix, AZ, that celebrates our 100th anniversary as a national fraternity. As part of the congress, Secular Franciscans have
been asked to bring along fleece fabric and scissors to make hand-tied blankets for youth and the elderly in shelters and at the border. If you are not planning to attend the “Q,” your fraternity may desire to make a
donation toward the costs of materials.

Over the last year, the National JPIC has been working on immigration issues and assistance to people who are being held in facilities at the border. Donna Hollis, OFS, the recipient of the 2021 JPIC Award, provides
regular updates to the regional animators. The need for immigration reform has existed for more than three decades, but we have made little or no progress as a country to address the moral issues.
Finally, I would like to share information about the Poor Peoples’ Campaign Moral March in Washington, DC, on June 18th.  Franciscan Action Network has signed up as a mobilizing partner and is inviting anyone who would like to participate to gather at 9 AM at St. Patrick’s Church on 10th St. NW. On May 5th, FAN co-sponsored an informational webinar with Pax Christ USA, the Sisters of Mercy, and the Leadership Conference of Women Religious to provide information about
the march. The webinar is available to view on the FAN website.
Let us continue to pray fervently for a peaceful resolution of the war in
Ukraine and for all those throughout the world who have been displaced by conflict and violence!

May 20, 2022 (Feast of St. Bernardine of Siena)
National JPIC Monthly Reflections on the Beatitudes Patricia Grace, a Secular Franciscan from southern California and a member of the National JPIC, started hosting monthly Zoom sessions on the spirit of the Beatitudes, which are so integral to the Secular Franciscan
Rule. The third session (Blessed are the meek) will be held on Saturday, May 21st, at 1:00 PM EDT. After the previous two sessions, Patricia published notes for those who could not be there. If anyone is interested in participating, please contact me.

Laudato Si’ Week (May 22-29)
Marking the seventh anniversary of the encyclical, Laudato Si’ Week will feature global, regional, and local events tied to one of the seven Laudato Si’ goals. On the day celebrating ecological education, footage from The Invitation, a new feature-length documentary film on Laudato Si’, will be shown to the general public for the first time ever during a live-streaming event. The Invitation will have its global release later this year. The event begins at 8:00 AM EDT (14.00 CEST) on May 27 (Friday). Registration is required at this link. It will be facilitated by Deborah Castellano Lubov, analyst for NBC News and MSNBC, contributor to EWTN, Salt & Light TV, and others, and correspondent for Vatican News.

World Meeting of Families (June 22-26, Rome, Italy and in local dioceses)
Before the decision to focus on JPIC, the OFS national fraternity had a separate apostolic commission for FAMILY. As Secular Franciscans, this vocation is especially meaningful to our life in society. While it is easy to argue that JPIC covers areas that have impact on families, the focus gets dwarfed by the graver issues of human trafficking, immigration, racism, war, violence, poverty, homelessness, etc. The XXX World Meeting of Families (WMF) has the theme “Family Love: A Vocation and a Path to Holiness.” In honor of the WMF event, Pope Francis invited families
this year to write and participate in the Via Crucis (Way of the Cross) in Rome on Good Friday. Please take the time to read the reflections that were given at each station (PDF file at this URL):
For the 13th Station (Jesus dies on the cross), a Ukrainian and a Russian
woman held the cross together during the silent reflection.
On the Franciscan Action Network (FAN) website, there
is this definition of Franciscan Justice Circles:
“…local grassroots communities, inspired by the Franciscan
charism, that unite to advocate for social and environmental
justice. They are independent, ongoing, volunteer-led groups empowered to engage the issues in their communities that are important to them through advocacy and action. Supported by the Franciscan Action Network (FAN) and the national network of Franciscan Justice Circles, these groups explore more deeply the social justice path of the Two Feet of Love in Action, and engage important local issues, challenging policies that perpetuate injustice and advancing policies of peace, justice, and care for creation.” I am happy to report to the region that my wife Teresa and I co-facilitate the Delaware Valley Franciscan Justice Circle, which meets by Zoom on the second Tuesday of the month at 7 PM. Currently, we have about 12 members from PA, DE, and NJ, including five Franciscan sisters from the Aston community, as well as four Secular Franciscans. In our monthly gatherings, we have celebrated the Day of Prayer for Human Trafficking (March) Ukrainian nurse Iryna and Russian nursing student Albina, who are friends, hold a cross at the 13th station as Pope Francis leads the Way of the Cross outside the Colosseum in Rome April
15, 2022. (CNS photo/Paul Haring) May 20, 2022 (Feast of St. Bernardine of Siena)
and devoted April and May to integral ecology in the spirit of Earth Day and Laudato Si’ Week. If you have questions or would like more information, please call or e-mail me. I also participate in FAN’s monthly
National FJC Zoom call where other circles share their experiences and build common energy for the common good. Justice, Peace, and Human Development-US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB)
Fraternities can benefit from the resources to be found on the USCCB’s website for the Department of Justice, Peace, and Human Development, which promotes awareness of Catholic social teaching and opportunities
to live the Baptismal call to love God and neighbor. Efforts include the anti-poverty mission of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, as well as advocacy in support of poor and vulnerable persons and
communities, in the U.S. and abroad. A valuable link from this department contains excellent videos (approximately 3-4 minutes long), introduced by respected US episcopal leaders such as Franciscan Cardinal
Sean O’Malley and Bishop Robert Barron, along with study guides in both English or Spanish (2-page handout) to appreciate the Church’s Catholic Social Teaching: This type of personal and fraternal reflection can benefit the types of apostolates in which fraternities choose to engage. Koinonia 2022.1 (The Journey of the Secular Franciscans in the Synodal Church) In CIOFS’ first quarterly edition of the International Spiritual Assistants’ newsletter Koinonia, Br. Carlos Ginés
C. Julve, TOR, gives a thoughtful reflection titled “Communion: A Challenge of the Gospel Life of the OFS” in which he explores our deep Franciscan roots in the Church’s understanding of the word communion. In his direction to Secular Franciscans for the Third Millennium, he challenges us not only to a heartfelt encounter with Christ in prayer, but also to find our missionary action in the world: “The Saint of Assisi [Francis] understood that all the gifts and charisms that God gives must always be placed at the service of the Church, which is the Body of Christ. Communion requires paying attention to the inspiration of the Holy
Spirit, praying, asking for and discovering the gifts and charisms that the same Spirit arouses in the Church, in each one of the members of the people of God, and nourishing oneself and participating in an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ in the Eucharist. Synodality is a call to co-responsibility and the participation of those who make up the great
People of God. It is an invitation as a member of the People of God to live in this way. The God of St. Francis is not the result of speculation or a studied theology, but He is the God revealed in His life, felt as a saving force, light, life, love, an unprecedented and always attractive reality. The unceasing prayer of Saint Francis is based on the certainty that God is
the supreme good, all good.

1 The synodality-communion to which Pope Francis invites becomes a pastoral challenge for the Secular Franciscan Order to contemplate St. Francis more deeply in order to take initiatives like him. This leads us to
rebuild church-communities, to be available, to have initiatives that take us to the Muslim world and to the marginalized, initiatives that involve us in the formation of priests, initiatives that lead us to speak and listen to the bishops and the Pope. Initiatives that lead us all together to live the dream of God, One and Triune. It is a challenge not to leave the world
but to enter more and more into it and from there to make God’s dream possible: synodality is witness to divine life.”

Questions for personal and fraternal reflection:
▪ How would you specify some of the challenges presented in this reflection?
▪ What other challenges do you think we have as a Church?
▪ What do you think is the dream that God is inspiring Pope Francis about you?

Every session of the Second Vatican Council began with the prayer Adsumus Sancte Spiritus, the first word of the Latin
original meaning, “We stand before You, Holy Spirit,” which has been historically used at Councils, Synods and other
Church gatherings for hundreds of years, being attributed to Saint Isidore of Seville (c. 560 – 4 April 636). As we are
called to embrace this synodal path of Synod 2021-2023, this prayer invites the Holy Spirit to work within us so that we
may be a community and a people of grace. For Synod 2021-2023, we propose to use this simplified version, so that any
group or liturgical assembly can pray more easily:
1 Cf. Vicente Valtueña, Juan. M. Revista Seminarios, Volumen 55 – año 2009.

May 2922 Thought for the Day by Father Francis Sariego, OFMCap

May 2022 

 O virgin mother, daughter of your Son, humble beyond all creatures and more exalted; 

predestined turning point of God’s intention; 

Your merit so ennobled human nature that its divine Creator did not scorn 

to make Himself the creature of His creature. 

The Love that was rekindled in Your womb sends for the warmth of the eternal peace 

Within whose ray this flower has come to bloom. 

Here to us, you are the noon and scope of Love revealed; 

and among mortal men, the living fountain of eternal hope. 

Lady, you are so near God’s reckonings that who seeks grace and does not first seek you 

would have his wish fly upward without wings. 

Not only does your sweet benignity flow out to all who beg, 

but oftentimes your charity arrives before the plea. 

In you is pity, in you munificence, in you the tenderest heart, 

in you unites all that creation knows of excellence! 


This prayer appears now and then in our monthly letters or calendars. It is part of a Cantico of the Divine Comedy of Dante Alighieri. An Italian poet of the 13th century whose love for St. Francis of Assisi urged him to become, as we are told, a member of the Third Order of Penitents of Assisi, as the Secular Franciscans were called in the beginning. He expresses in these words he writes in the Paradiso part of his Divine Comedy, a prayer he places on the lips of St. Bernard of Clairvaux. He presents so beautifully in prose what St. Francis of Assisi proclaimed in prayer regarding our Blessed Mother Mary. Our love for Mary should never lessen. She is the One Whose Motherly love will assist and lead us closer to Jesus, Her Son and our Lord and Savior. Through Mary we have the opportunity of approaching one another as spiritual siblings in the Blood of our Older Brother, Jesus, in Whom we have become the redeemed  children of God the Father gifted with His Holy Spirit. One can never say enough or too much ofMary. De Maria Numquam Satis! – (You can never get enough of Mary – free translation). First said by St. Bernard of Clairvaux, then taken up by other saints and people of faith, we are invited to enter Her Immaculate Heart and be embraced by Her Motherly Love.

Chapter XVII




After twenty years of clinging most perfectly to Christ, and of following the life and footsteps of the apostles, in the one thousandth, two hundredth, and twenty-sixth year of the Incarnation of the Lord, on the fourth of October, a Sunday, Francis, that apostolic man, most joyfully passed to Christ, winning eternal rest after many labors, and fittingly entering into the presence of the Lord. One of his followers, renowned for his sanctity, saw his soul like a star as big as the moon with the brilliance of the sun, rising up above the great waters, and borne up to heaven by a brilliant cloud. – Endurance bears what is difficult and turns it into glory.


For he had worked intensely in the Lord’s vineyard, eager and fervent in his prayers, fasts, vigils, sermons, and wholesome journeys, in care and compassion for his neighbor, and in disregard of himself. From the beginning of his conversion to the day of his passing to Christ, he had loved Him with his whole heart, constantly keeping the memory of Him in his mind, praising Him with his mouth, and glorifying Him with his fruitful deeds. – Repentance is sorrow turned into action, movement toward a new and better life.


For he loved God with such enthusiasm from the depths of his heart that, on hearing His name, completely melting within, he would burst forth saying that heaven and earth must bow at the Lord’s name. – Reverence for life offers a new relationship with creation.


While he was still alive in the flesh, the Lord adorned him with a wonderful prerogative of a unique privilege, wishing to show the whole world the fervor of love and the incessant memory of the Passion of Christ which he carried in his heart. – Faith knows the way; hope points the way; love is the way.


For when he was taken above in the seraphic ardor of desires into God and into Him, he who, by a boundless love, wanted to be crucified, was transformed by a compassionate sweetness. – The confession of evil works is the beginning of good works. (St. Augustine)


One morning, around the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, while he was absorbed in prayer on a slope of Mount La Verna, two years before his death, a seraph with six wings appeared to him. – The greatest truth are the simplest and so are the greatest people.


Within its six wings there was the form of a very beautiful, crucified man, whose hands and feet were extended after the manner of a cross, and whose features were clearly those of the Lord Jesus. – Imitate Mary, you will not go astray. (St. Bernard)


Two wings covered his head, two, the rest of his body down to the feet, and two were extended as if for flight. – Pray to Mary, you will not despair. (St. Bernard)


When the vision disappeared, a marvelous glow of love remained in his soul, but, even more marvelous, an impression of the stigmata of our Lord Jesus Christ appeared in his flesh. – Think of Mary, you will not err. (St. Bernard)


Until his death, the man of God, unwilling to divulge God’s sacrament, concealed it to the best of his ability, although he was unable to cover it completely since it became known to at least his intimate companions. – Supported by Mary, you will not fail. (St. Bernard)


After his most happy passing, all the brothers who were present, as well as many seculars, clearly saw his body unmistakably adorned with the wounds of Christ.- Embraced by Mary, you will be saved. (St. Bernard)


They saw in his hands and feet, not just the holes of the nails, but the nails themselves formed by his own flesh, taking shape from it, and showing the dark color of iron. – If you judge people, you will have no time to love them. (Mother Teresa)


His right side appeared as if pierced with a lance, covered with a red scar from a very real and very visible wound, which, even while he was living, frequently poured out sacred blood.- Every child come with the message that God is not discouraged with us.


The undeniable truth of those stigmata appeared most brilliantly through sight and contact not only in his life and in death, but also after his death, the Lord revealed their truth even more brilliantly by many miracles shown in different parts of the world. – Be quiet and God will speak to you.


Through these miracles, the hearts of many who did not look kindly on the man of God and doubted the stigmata were also moved to a great assurance of faith. – There is a child asleep in the heart of the most severe people. (Dom Helder Camara)

Thus, those who had been his detractors, by God’s active goodness and the undeniable weight of evidence, became faithful heralds and promoters of his fame. – What begins in the heart of God is complete only when it enters my heart.

Chapter XVIII



In various parts of the world blessed Francis was becoming resplendent because of the light of new miracles. – Jesus is the condescension of divinity and the exaltation of humanity. (cfr. St. Leo the Great)


And from far and wide, those who, through his merits, enjoyed unique and extraordinary benefits from the Lord, hurried to reverence his holy remains.- The recognition of sin is the beginning of salvation.


After consulting the cardinals and many other prelates, and approving the miracles which the Lord wrought through his intercession, the Lord Pope Gregory enrolled him in the catalog of saints, ordering that his feast be solemnly celebrated on the day of his death. – When the soul lays down its faults before God, it feels as though it had wings.


These things happened in the city of Assisi, in the presence of many prelates of the Church, an exceptionally large representation of rulers and barons, and a vast crowd of people from all parts of the world whom the Lord Pope had invited. – If you want an increase of Jesus, there must be a decrease in self.


This took place in the year one thousand two hundred and twenty-eight, the second year of the Lord Pope’s pontificate. – You may not have been responsible for your heritage, but you are responsible for your future.


The Sovereign Pontiff, who loved the saint very much during his lifetime, not only honored him through an extraordinary canonization, but also laid the first stone of the church to be built in his honor, enriching it with sacred gifts and precious appointments. –       The world is round, and the place which seems like the end may be the beginning.


To this new church, two years after his canonization, the saint’s most sacred body was solemnly transferred from the place where it was first buried. – Positive anything is better than negative nothing.


He sent to the church a golden cross, decorated with precious gems and containing wood from the Lord’s cross.- Half the confusion in one’s life comes from not knowing how little one needs.


He also sent appointments, vessels, and many other furnishings for the service of the altar, together with many precious and solemn vestments. – God in heaven let me feel my nothingness, in order to feel more powerfully the greatness of your goodness.


Exempting the church from any inferior jurisdiction, the Sovereign Pontiff, by apostolic authority, proclaimed it “the Head and Mother” of the whole Order of Lesser Brothers, as is clear in an official public document that was undersigned by all the cardinals. – What I have will belong to another someday. But what I am will be mine for all eternity.


It would mean little to honor the saint of God with material things, had not the Lord willed to work through him, physically dead but spiritually alive in glory, numerous miracles of conversion and healing. – Why is it that so many church members say “Our Father” on Sunday and go around the rest of the week acting like orphans?


After his death, both men and women, through his intercession, were converted to the Lord. Many nobles and their sons put on the habit of his Order, and their wives and daughters entered the monasteries of the Poor Ladies. – When we look for the  best in others we find the best in ourselves.


Many learned and exceptionally educated men, some laymen, others holding ecclesiastical offices, wholeheartedly renounced the allurements of the flesh, the absence of piety, and the lust of this world.- The little things! The little moments! They aren’t little


They entered the Order of the Lesser Ones, obliging themselves to follow, according to the particular grace given them by God, the poverty and the footsteps of Christ and his most blessed servant Francis. – How well does the light of your faith radiate to those with whom you live and work?


What was written of Samson can fittingly be said of him who lives a life of glory: those he killed at his death were more than those he had during his lifetime. Through the merits of our most holy father Francis, may He who lives and reigns forever bring us to this same glory. Amen. – When the world seems at its worst, Christians must be at their best.


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

April 2022 

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

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

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

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

Father, Son and Holy Spirit, 

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

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

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

sublime, most high, gentle, lovable, delightful, 

and totally desirable above all else forever. 


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

The following daily excerpts are from the Legend of the Three Companions 

Chapter XV





The venerable father, the Lord Cardinal John of Saint Paul, that cardinal who more frequently offered counsel and protection to blessed Francis, commended the life and accomplishments of the saint and his brothers to the other cardinals. – Prayer does not change God but the one who prays.


Their minds were moved to love the man of God with his brothers, so that each one of them wanted to have brothers in his own household, not for any service they might provide, but because of their holiness and the dedication with which they burned for them. – Weaknesses with God’s help can be the strongest thing we have.


After the Lord Cardinal John of Saint Paul had died, the Lord inspired one of the cardinals, Hugolino, at that time the bishop of Ostia, to cherish, protect, and support Francis and his brothers. – Go not where a path happens to be but where a path ought to be.


With burning intensity, he held them in awe as if he were the father of them all. What is more, more than the love of a carnal father reaching out naturally to his own sons, the love of this man overflowed spiritually on the man of God and his brothers, loving and supporting them in the Lord. – It is only the crushed grape that yields the wine.


The man of God heard of this man’s glorious reputation, for among the cardinals he was famous, and with his brothers approached him. Receiving them with joy, he told them: “I am offering you myself for advice, assistance and protection, ready to give myself according to your good pleasure. I only ask that, for God’s sake, you have me remembered in your prayers.” – It is by Christ’s wounds that we are healed.


Then blessed Francis, thanking God, told that lord cardinal: “My lord, I gladly want to have you as the father and protector of our religion, and I want all my brothers to have you always remembered in their prayers.” Then blessed Francis asked him to be present at the chapter of the brothers at Pentecost. – It might take a crucified church to bring a crucified Christ to the world.


He immediately agreed graciously, and, from then on, was present every year at their chapter. When he came to the chapter, all the brothers who had gathered at the chapter would go in procession to meet him. – The Way of the Cross takes the road of poverty and suffering in every form.


As they were approaching, he would dismount from his horse and go on foot with them to the church of Saint Mary. Afterward he preached to them and celebrated Mass, during which the man of God, Francis, would chant the Gospel. – God still speaks to those who take the time to listen.


Chapter XVI





Eleven years after the founding of the religion when the brothers had increased in number and merit, ministers were chosen and sent with some of the brothers throughout nearly the entire world in which the Catholic faith was practiced and observed. – It is important that people know what you stand for.


They were received in some of the provinces, but were not permitted to build houses. On the other hand, they were expelled from others for fear they might be non-believers, because, although the Lord Pope Innocent III had approved the Order and the Rule, nonetheless, he did not confirm this by letter, and the brothers, therefore, suffered many adversities from clerics and lay people. – It is important that people know what you don’t stand for.


The brothers were then forced to flee from various provinces, and so, persecuted, afflicted, even set upon by thieves who stripped and beat them, they returned to blessed Francis with great bitterness. – Love may suffer but it overcomes.


For they had suffered this in almost every region beyond the Alps, in Germany, Hungary, and in many other regions. When this had been made known to the Lord Cardinal, he called blessed Francis to him and took him to the Lord Pope Honorius, since the Lord Innocent was now dead. – In Jesus there is a hope stronger than history.


He had another rule—composed by blessed Francis as he was taught by Christ—confirmed by the same Lord Honorius with a seal solemnly affixed. In this rule, the time between the chapters was prolonged to avoid hardship for the brothers living in remote areas. – In Jesus there is a love mightier than death.


Blessed Francis proposed to ask the Lord Pope Honorius, therefore, that one of the cardinals of the Roman Church be a sort of pope of his Order, that is, the Lord of Ostia, to whom the brothers could have recourse in their dealings.- A person filled with joy preaches without preaching.


For blessed Francis had had a vision which led him to ask for the cardinal, and to entrust the Order to the Roman Church. Waking from sleep, he began to think about this vision … “The Lord in his mercy has given, and will give me, many sons whom I will be unable to protect with my own strength. I must, therefore, commend them to the holy Church who will protect and guide them under the shadow of her wings.” – In whom do I put my faith? 


A few years after this vision, he came to Rome and visited the Lord of Ostia who obliged blessed Francis to go with him to the Curia the following morning. He wanted him to preach before the Lord Pope and the cardinals, and to commend his religion to them with devotion and eagerness. – God is not an idea. God is a presence! 


Although blessed Francis excused himself, claiming he was simple and stupid, he nevertheless had to accompany that man to the Curia. – All we want in Christ, we find in Christ. 


When blessed Francis presented himself before the Lord Pope and the cardinals, they saw him with boundless joy. – We are Easter people, and Alleluia is our song. 


Getting up, he preached to them, prepared only by the Holy Spirit’s anointing. After he finished speaking, he commended his religion to the Lord Pope and to all the cardinals. – We can face all conditions by the power that Christ gives us.


The Lord Pope and lord cardinals had been greatly edified by his preaching, and their hearts were moved to a more burning love of the religion. – Learn from the past and fulfill the present. 


Afterwards blessed Francis told the Supreme Pontiff: “Lord, I am suffering with you over the worry and continuing labor with which you must watch over God’s Church, and I am greatly ashamed that you must have such solicitude and care for us lesser brothers. For, since many nobles, rich people, as well as many religious, are unable to come to you, we, who are surely poor and looked down upon by some religious, must have great fear and shame not only to have access to you, but even to stand at your door and to presume to knock at the tabernacle of Christian virtue… – God is always near you and with you.


Therefore, I humbly and resolutely beg your Holiness to give us the Lord of Ostia as pope, so that, at a time of need, the brothers may have recourse to him, always saving your pre-eminent dignity.” – If God seems far away, guess who moved!


The Lord Pope was pleased with the petition, and he granted blessed Francis that Lord of Ostia, appointing him a most fitting protector of his religion. – God is a giver, and has nothing to give but Himself.


With the mandate of the Lord Pope, as a good protector, he extended his influence to protect the brothers, writing to many prelates who were persecuting the brothers. – The greatest adventure is to seek God.


He did this so that they would no longer oppose them, but would rather give them advice and assistance in preaching and living in their provinces, as good and holy religious approved by the authority of the Apostolic See. – The greatest human achievement is to fall in love with God.


Many other cardinals likewise sent their own letters for the same reason. In the following chapter, after blessed Francis gave the ministers permission to receive brothers into the Order, he sent them to those provinces, carrying the letters of the cardinals as well as the Rule confirmed by the apostolic seal. – Lord, grant me a heart full of thankfulness.


Once the prelates saw all of these, and recognized the endorsements shown by the brothers, they permitted the brothers to build, live, and preach in their provinces. – Jesus Christ will be Lord of all, or he will not be Lord at all.


And after the brothers lived and preached in this way in those provinces, many people, seeing their humble and holy way of life, and hearing their very pleasant words, moving and inflaming minds to love of God and to doing penance, they came to them and humbly accepted the habit of holy religion. – Redemption is to forget self in God.


Seeing the trust and love that the Lord of Ostia had for the brothers, blessed Francis loved him most affectionately from the depths of his heart. And because he knew, through an earlier revelation of God, that he would be the future Supreme Pontiff, he predicted this in the letters he wrote to him, calling him the father of the whole world. For he wrote to him in this manner: “To the venerable father of the whole world in Christ …” – Human beings are too noble to serve anyone but God.


Shortly afterwards, after the death of the Lord Pope Honorius III, that Lord of Ostia was elected the Supreme Pontiff, named Pope Gregory IX, who, until the end of his life was a remarkable benefactor and protector of the brothers as well as of other religious, and above all, of Christ’s poor. For this reason, he is believed to be numbered deservedly in the gathering of the saints. – O Lord, our hearts will not rest until they rest in You.





Pope Francis’ Message for World Day of Prayer for Care of Creation 9/1/20

The Holy See

“You shall thus hallow the fiftieth year
and you shall proclaim a release throughout the land
to all its inhabitants.
It shall be a jubilee for you.”
(Lev 25:10)

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Each year, particularly since the publication of the Encyclical Laudato Si’ (LS, 24 may 2015), the
first day of September is celebrated by the Christian family as the World Day of Prayer for the
Care of Creation and the beginning of the Season of Creation, which concludes on the feast of
Saint Francis of Assisi on the fourth of October. During this period, Christians worldwide renew
their faith in the God of creation and join in prayer and work for the care of our common home.
I am very pleased that the theme chosen by the ecumenical family for the celebration of the 2020
Season of Creation is Jubilee for the Earth, precisely in this year that marks the fiftieth anniversary
of Earth Day. In the Holy Scriptures, a Jubilee is a sacred time to remember, return, rest, restore,
and rejoice.

A Time to Remember
We are invited to remember above all that creation’s ultimate destiny is to enter into God’s eternal
Sabbath. This journey, however, takes place in time, spanning the seven-day rhythm of the week,
the cycle of seven years, and the great Jubilee Year that comes at the end of the seven Sabbath

1.  A Jubilee is indeed a time of grace to remember creation’s original vocation to exist and flourish as
a community of love. We exist only in relationships: with God the Creator, with our brothers and
sisters as members of a common family, and with all of God’s creatures within our common home.
“Everything is related, and we human beings are united as brothers and sisters on a wonderful
pilgrimage, woven together by the love God has for each of his creatures and which also unites us
in fond affection with brother sun, sister moon, brother river and mother earth” (LS, 92)
A Jubilee, then, is a time of remembrance, in which we cherish the memory of our inter-relational
existence. We need constantly to remember that “everything is interconnected, and that genuine
care for our own lives and our relationships with nature is inseparable from fraternity, justice and
faithfulness to others” (LS, 70).

2. A Time to Return
A Jubilee is a time to turn back in repentance. We have broken the bonds of our relationship with
the Creator, with our fellow human beings, and with the rest of creation. We need to heal the
damaged relationships that are essential to supporting us and the entire fabric of life.
A Jubilee is a time to return to God our loving Creator. We cannot live in harmony with creation if
we are not at peace with the Creator who is the source and origin of all things. As Pope Benedict
observed, “the brutal consumption of creation begins where God is missing, where matter has
become simply material for us, where we ourselves are the ultimate measure, where everything is
simply our property” (Meeting with Priests, Deacons, and Seminarians of the Diocese of BolzanoBressanone, 6 August 2008).

The Jubilee season calls us to think once again of our fellow human beings, especially the poor
and the most vulnerable. We are asked to re-appropriate God’s original and loving plan of creation
as a common heritage, a banquet which all of our brothers and sisters share in a spirit of
conviviality, not in competitive scramble but in joyful fellowship, supporting and protecting one
another. A Jubilee is a time for setting free the oppressed and all those shackled in the fetters of
various forms of modern slavery, including trafficking in persons and child labour.
We also need once more to listen to the land itself, which Scripture calls adamah, the soil from
which man, Adam, was made. Today we hear the voice of creation admonishing us to return to our
rightful place in the natural created order – to remember that we are part of this interconnected
web of life, not its masters. The disintegration of biodiversity, spiralling climate disasters, and
unjust impact of the current pandemic on the poor and vulnerable: all these are a wakeup call in
the face of our rampant greed and consumption.

Particularly during this Season of Creation, may we be attentive to the rhythms of this created
world. For the world was made to communicate the glory of God, to help us to discover in its
beauty the Lord of all, and to return to him (cf. SAINT BONAVENTURE, In II Sent., I, 2, 2, q. 1,
conclusion; Breviloquium, II, 5.11). The earth from which we were made is thus a place of prayer
and meditation. “Let us awaken our God-given aesthetic and contemplative sense” (Querida
Amazonia, 56). The capacity to wonder and to contemplate is something that we can learn
especially from our indigenous brothers and sisters, who live in harmony with the land and its
multiple forms of life.

3. A Time to Rest
In his wisdom, God set aside the Sabbath so that the land and its inhabitants could rest and be
renewed. These days, however, our way of life is pushing the planet beyond its limits. Our
constant demand for growth and an endless cycle of production and consumption are exhausting
the natural world. Forests are leached, topsoil erodes, fields fail, deserts advance, seas acidify
and storms intensify. Creation is groaning!

During the Jubilee, God’s people were invited to rest from their usual labour and to let the land
heal and the earth repair itself, as individuals consumed less than usual. Today we need to find
just and sustainable ways of living that can give the Earth the rest it requires, ways that satisfy
everyone with a sufficiency, without destroying the ecosystems that sustain us.

In some ways, the current pandemic has led us to rediscover simpler and sustainable lifestyles.
The crisis, in a sense, has given us a chance to develop new ways of living. Already we can see
how the earth can recover if we allow it to rest: the air becomes cleaner, the waters clearer, and
animals have returned to many places from where they had previously disappeared. The
pandemic has brought us to a crossroads. We must use this decisive moment to end our
superfluous and destructive goals and activities, and to cultivate values, connections and activities
that are life-giving. We must examine our habits of energy usage, consumption, transportation,
and diet. We must eliminate the superfluous and destructive aspects of our economies, and
nurture life-giving ways to trade, produce, and transport goods.

4. A Time to Restore
A Jubilee is a time to restore the original harmony of creation and to heal strained human

It invites us to re-establish equitable societal relationships, restoring their freedom and goods to all
and forgiving one another’s debts. We should not forget the historic exploitation of the global
South that has created an enormous ecological debt, due mainly to resource plundering and
excessive use of common environmental space for waste disposal. It is a time for restorative
justice. In this context, I repeat my call for the cancellation of the debt of the most vulnerable
countries, in recognition of the severe impacts of the medical, social and economic crises they
face as a result of Covid-19. We also need to ensure that the recovery packages being developed
and deployed at global, regional and national levels must be regeneration packages. Policy,
legislation and investment must be focused on the common good and guarantee that global social
and environmental goals are met.

We also need to restore the land. Climate restoration is of utmost importance, since we are in the
midst of a climate emergency. We are running out of time, as our children and young people have
reminded us. We need to do everything in our capacity to limit global average temperature rise
under the threshold of 1.5°C enshrined in the Paris Climate Agreement, for going beyond that will
prove catastrophic, especially for poor communities around the world. We need to stand up for
intra-generational and inter-generational solidarity at this critical moment. I invite all nations to
adopt more ambitious national targets to reduce emissions, in preparation for the important
Climate Summit (COP 26) in Glasgow in the United Kingdom.

Biodiversity restoration is also crucially important in the context of unprecedented loss of species
and degradation of ecosystems. We need to support the U.N. call to safeguard 30% of the earth
as protected habitats by 2030 in order to stem the alarming rate of biodiversity loss. I urge the
international community to work together to guarantee that the Summit on Biodiversity (COP 15) in
Kunming, China becomes a turning point in restoring the earth to be a home of life in abundance,
as willed by the Creator.

We must restore with justice in mind, ensuring that those who have lived on the land for
generations can regain control over its usage. Indigenous communities must be protected from
companies, particularly multinational companies, that “operate in less developed countries in ways
they could never do at home” (LS, 51), through the destructive extraction of fossil fuels, minerals,
timber and agroindustrial products. This corporate misconduct is a “new version of colonialism”
(SAINT JOHN PAUL II, Address to the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, 27 April 2001, cited
in Querida Amazonia, 14), one that shamefully exploits poorer countries and communities
desperately seeking economic development. We need to strengthen national and international
legislation to regulate the activities of extractive companies and ensure access to justice for those

5. A Time to Rejoice
In the biblical tradition, a Jubilee was a joyous occasion, inaugurated by a trumpet blast
resounding throughout the land. We are aware that the cries of the earth and of the poor have
become even louder and more painful in recent years. At the same time, we also witness how the
Holy Spirit is inspiring individuals and communities around the world to come together to rebuild
our common home and defend the most vulnerable in our midst. We see the gradual emergence
of a great mobilization of people from below and from the peripheries who are generously working
for the protection of the land and of the poor. We rejoice to see how young people and
communities, particularly indigenous communities, are on the frontlines in responding to the
ecological crisis. They are calling for a Jubilee for the earth and a new beginning, aware that
“things can change” (LS, 13).

We also rejoice to see how the Laudato Si’ Special Anniversary Year is inspiring many initiatives
at local and global levels for the care of our common home and the poor. This year should lead to
long-term action plans to practise integral ecology in our families, parishes and dioceses, religious
orders, our schools and universities, our healthcare, business and agricultural institutions, and
many others as well.

We rejoice too that faith communities are coming together to create a more just, peaceful and
sustainable world. We are particularly happy that the Season of Creation is becoming a truly
ecumenical initiative. Let us continue to grow in the awareness that we all live in a common home
as members of a single family.

Let us all rejoice that our loving Creator sustains our humble efforts to care for the earth, which is
also God’s home where his Word “became flesh and lived among us” (Jn 1:14) and which is
constantly being renewed by the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

“Send forth your Spirit, O Lord, and renew the face of the earth” (cf. Ps 104:30).
Rome, Saint John Lateran, 1 September 2020
©Copyright – Libreria Editrice Vaticana

Praying the Rule

Praying the Rule

Lord, our God, we intend to make present the charism of our Seraphic Father Francis in the life and mission of the Church, in various ways and forms but in life-giving union with one another. By our profession, we pledge ourselves to live the Gospel in the manner of St Francis by means of our Rule approved by the Church (Arts. 1-3). Help us, we pray, so that daily we may:

  • observe the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ by following the example of St Francis, going from gospel to life and from life to the gospel (Art. 4);
  • seek to encounter the living and active person of Jesus Christ in our brothers and sisters, in sacred scripture, in the Church and in the Eucharist (Art. 5);
  • go forth as witnesses and instruments of the Church’s mission among people, proclaiming Christ by our life and words (Art. 6);
  • conform our thoughts and deeds to those of Christ by the radical interior change which the Gospel calls “conversion”, making use of the sacrament of reconciliation on the way to renewal (Art. 7);
  • let prayer and contemplation be the soul of all we are and do (Art. 8);
  • imitate the Virgin Mary’s complete self-giving in her openness to your every word and call (Art. 9);
  • faithfully fulfill the duties proper to our various circumstances in life (Art. 10);
  • seek the proper spirit of detachment and purify our hearts from every tendency and yearning for possession and power (Art. 11);
  • acquire the purity of heart needed to set ourselves free to love God and our brothers and sisters (Art. 12);
  • accept all people as your gift, Lord, and an image of Christ (Art. 13);
  • exercise our responsibilities competently in the Christian spirit of service (Art. 14);
  • be in the forefront of promoting justice by the testimony of our human lives and by courageous initiatives (Art. 15);
  • esteem work both as a gift and as a sharing in the creation, redemption and service of the human community (Art. 16);
  • cultivate the Franciscan spirit of peace, fidelity and respect for life in our families, striving to make it a sign of a world already renewed in Christ (Art. 17);
  • respect all creatures, animate and inanimate “as bearing the imprint of the Most High” (Art. 18);
  • be bearers of peace and messengers of perfect joy in every circumstance, as immersed in the resurrection of Christ, we serenely tend towards Sister Death and our ultimate encounter with you, our Father (Art. 19).

All this we ask through Jesus Christ, our Lord and Brother. Amen.


From the Regional Formation Director - Justin Carisio, OFS - June 2020

SKD Formation Monthly-June 2020