Greetings from Father Francis Sariego, OFM Cap - December 2018

St. Katherine Drexel Regional Fraternity

Regional Spiritual Assistant

St. Francis of Assisi Friary

1901 Prior Road

Wilmington, Delaware 19809


tel: (302) 798-1454      fax: (302) 798-3360   

website: skdsfo    email: pppgusa@gmail.com

December 2018

 

Dear Sisters and Brothers in St. Francis,

The Lord give you his peace!

(Saint Francis’)  highest aim, foremost desire, and greatest intention was to pay heed to the holy gospel in all things and through all things, to follow the teaching of our Lord Jesus Christ and to retrace His footsteps completely … We should note then … what he did … at the town of Greccio, on the birthday of our Lord Jesus Christ … There was a certain man … named John who had a good reputation but an even better manner of life.  Blessed Francis (said to him) ‘If you desire to celebrate the coming feast of the Lord together at Greccio, hurry before me and carefully make ready the things I tell you.  For I wish to re-enact the memory of that babe who was born in Bethlehem: to see as much as is possible with my own bodily eyes the discomfort of his infant needs, how he lay in a manger, and how, with ox and ass standing by, he rested on hay’ … Finally, the holy man of God comes and, finding all things prepared, he saw them and was glad … There simplicity is given a place of honor, poverty is exalted, humility is commended, and out of Greccio is made a new Bethlehem … Over the manger the solemnities of the Mass are celebrated.  (1Celano, bk.1, chpt. 30)


St. Francis’ simplicity and desire for ‘concreteness’ in touching with his senses the great Mystery of the Incarnation gave rise to the tradition of the Nativity Scenes most Christian Families set up over the Christmas Season.  St. Francis was not seeking to be innovative, or create something curious that would attract people.  He sought to make the Birth of the Savior come alive once again.  He sought to rekindle the spark of the Spirit’s fire and enthusiasm in the hearts of the faithful.  Through the senses, St. Francis sought to arrive more incisively at the soul.


Grace builds on nature. The ability to allow the senses to take over and enliven the heart and soul makes our experience with God even more exciting. Not just the intellect, but the whole person enters this intimate relationship with God. And God enters a relationship with humanity taking on every aspect of human life except sin.  In the story, as recounted by Celano, it is even stated: Moreover, burning with excessive love, (Francisoften calls Christ the ‘babe from Bethlehem’ whenever he means to call Him Jesus.  Saying the word ‘Bethlehem’ in the manner of a bleating sheep. (1Celano, bk.1, chpt. 30) St. Francis was not one to be held in check by public opinion. Christmas is the birthday of the Christ Child and he was not concerned sounding like a child, or acting childlike, even if to some it seemed childish.  (When) people were bringing their little children to Jesus … (Jesus) said to (His disciples who were trying to stop them) Let the children come to me and do not hinder them.  It is to just such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. (Mark 10: 13-16) Christmas is a time for us to think of the Christ Child and remember the child that we once were and are called to become.  Our Seraphic Father let love let loose, just as David did when he danced with abandon before the Ark and all the people of Israel.  David’s response to a rebuke he received for being so exposed as a commoner (2 Samuel: 7: 20)could be placed on the lips of St. FrancisAs the Lord lives, who preferred me … not only will I make merry before the Lord, but I will demean myself even more … I will be lowly in your esteem … but I will be honored. (2 Samuel 7: 21-23) 


Pride seduced freedom at the very beginning of human history when our first parents opted to seek self interests rather than the will of their Father Creator. From that moment human history became a quest to regain what was lost: harmony, serenity, peace.  Harmony became enmeshed in the mechanism of compromise, connivance, convenience, and all that cloud our vision of the road traced out for us by the One Who calls us to Himself. Serenity was shaken by the inner struggles of insecurity, indifference, indolence and all that keep our hopes from encouraging us to move forward to grow in the gifts bestowed on us by our Creator.  Peace became the unfulfilled dream of those who were challenged daily by fearful anxiety, dominant arrogance, blind ambition. The world has not been the same ever since that fateful moment. And thus began the quest to regain what was lost!  Pride is overcome by humility.  Humility lives in the truth.  Truth offers us the liberating experience of being transparent. Transparency allows us to trust and also to see others as pilgrims with us on the same journey.  Thus, opening our heart to the other, we have found the eternal Other in our life as well.


We are reminded that: Life begins as the quest of the child for the man, and ends as  the quest of the man for the child  (Sam Ewing) that childlike person hidden within each one of us crying out to be set free.   We search for the Child Who alone can help us find what we ‘mislaid along the road’:  harmony with God, ourselves and all creation; serenity before the challenges we face in the certitude that all works out for those who trust in God;  and  peace of heart and love, that see the image of the Child we seek in all people.  Serenity (peace), integrity (transparency) and love (acceptance/surrender) ultimately lead to Joy – the Joy of Christmas, the Joy of the new-born Child.  

  

Centuries before the birth of Jesus, the people of Israel heard the prophet Isaiah promise: Many peoples shall come…they shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks; one nation shall not raise the sword against another, nor shall they train for war again (Isaiah 2: 1-5). How can our Christmas Message be happy and uplifting when all around us we hear of scandals in religious and political arenas, job downsizing, economic insecurity, division in families, violence in the streets, terrorism around the world, international  instability with threats of conflicts that could have devastating effects for the whole world, and much more?    We cannot let our hearts be overwhelmed by actions of hatred and violence that often occur, or by the tragedies that affect our lives.  Where there is life there is hope, and where there is hope there is peace, even in the midst of confusion and pain. Life is still the journey worth living and it is beautiful because…God so loved the world that he sent us his only Son so that whoever believes in Him would have life and have it in abundance. Who (or what) can separate us from the love of God…In Him we are more than conquerors. We must search for the answer in the responses given at Jesus Birth to heaven’s call: the shepherds went in haste to see what had been told them   (Luke 2: 1); the Magi followed the star (see Matthew 2: 1-12). As spiritual children of the Poverello of Assisi, we are entrusted by our Seraphic Father to live the legacy of joyful trust at all times in the Father Who loves His children passionately, and has manifest that love in the Birth, by the power of the Holy Spirit, of Jesus, the Son of Mary.


God’s ‘Star of Truth”, His inspired Word, enlightens and indicates the way to follow that we might fulfill our basic desire to rediscover the child within us.   In that Word we recognize and accept the Child Who alone can restore us to our initial innocence, regardless of how deep we may have fallen.  With the simplicity of the shepherds we hurry in faith that blossoms into Hope.  This hope enables us to see Love Incarnate and believe in a Presence that can and will envelop us all with His eternal Love.  Now that we have seen and touched the Holy One of God, we know that no matter what happens around us, greater is the One within than he who is in the world. (1 John 4: 4)  The man (the one whom St. Francis had asked to setup the Nativity Scene at Greccio) saw a little child lying lifeless in the manger and he saw the holy man of God approach the Child and waken him from a deep sleep. (1Celano, bk.1, chpt. 30)   The newborn King Whose birth we prepare for and celebrate in faith, can be found alive in the hearts of everyone of us.  He is there waiting for us to rediscover and awaken His Presence within us, as our Father did for the people of Greccio.  


During the Advent Season, in the silence of faith, we journey with Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem.  In the joy of great expectations we hurry to the stable with the Shepherds.  In undaunted hope we follow the heavenly guide with the Wise Men bearing the gift of ourselves. Let all fears be dispelled, all hope rekindled, all love blossom  new in our hearts.  The Child of Bethlehem blessed our history becoming one with us that we might again be one with Him. It was at that birth that heaven sang  Glory to God in high heaven, peace on earth to those on whom His favor rests (Luke 2: 1-14)  


The world into which the God of creation chose to enflesh Himself is still the stage of the greatest act of His Eternal Love.  Life to be, Freedom in responsibility, and Redemption to eternal life in Jesus are still God’s loving and impartial gifts to all.  Stewards of creation, we are invested with the awesome trust of the Father. We make His presence and providence a reality in our world grown cold and indifferent to what really matters – Love! Just as at Bethlehem on that first Christmas night, we, like Mary, Joseph, and the shepherds, experience the promise fulfilled and our hope rekindled. We become his earthly messengers of the eternal love that not even human tragedy can destroy.  Goodness is still alive in the hearts of God’s children, and this love is celebrated each year at Christmas. 


Christmas is a time for us to look with childlike wonder at the mystery fulfilled and to enjoy the love made present in the poverty of Bethlehem.  It is a time to bask in the light of a treasure greater than any we could imagine.  To see the Infant Jesus and recognize the God of Creation, the Savior of humanity, the King of kings and Lord of lords is to allow the tepidity and even the coldness of life’s demands and burdens to be dispelled and warmed by the Child of Bethlehem.  The Lord hidden in His Word and Sacrament is made visible in so many ways.  The child within is reborn and we experience the newness and joy of life. At Christmas we celebrate this wonderful re-discovery and joy. 


Each day is a new experience of that eternal unfolding love prepared for by the prophets, made visible at Bethlehem and Calvary.  All this will continue until history’s time becomes eternal life.  Each day we re-present the mysteries of salvation in the Eucharist, and each year we celebrate the unfolding of that One Solitary Life that is the focal point of human history – Jesus. Life is our journey. We set out in the zest and vigor of childhood and youth.  We are tested through middle age. We lose our spring as time progresses…but, our faith – as was that of Mary and Joseph who believed the mystery and so experienced the miracle of His birth – allows us to see each moment as a wonderful endowment that makes the journey itself the gift, and the destination that much more desirable. His wooden manger for a cradle at Bethlehem began the journey that led to his total surrender for us on the rough wood of the Cross on Calvary. The Crib and the Cross can never be separated.   His total emptying as God at Bethlehem and total emptying as Man on Calvary is the whole story of a birth to die that we who are born to die may encounter the fullness of Life.

   

May the Child of Bethlehem help us celebrate His birth, Light and Salvation. As brothers and sisters in St. Francis of Assisi let us bring that light, joy and hope to all whom we encounter on life’s journey. Warmed by the love and humility of the Christ Child, may we find that child within who helps us to see the beauty of this world in all its wonder and majesty, and the love of its Creator in all His humility. Come, let us adore Him in His Eucharistic presence. With Mary and Joseph let us bask in the light of his splendor and trust in Him.


In the Name of Jesus I wish all of you a Spirit-filled Advent and a Holy and Happy Christmas Season. As you enter the new calendar year with all its expectations and uncertainties, hopes and fears, may your dreams be fulfilled in a world renewed in Jesus and filled with His Spirit. Let us never forget: A Child is born to us! A Savior is given to us! Come, let us adore Him!  Fear not!  It is I!  I have conquered the world!

 

Blessed and Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year 2019!

Peace and Blessings in the Christ Child

Fr. Francis A. Sariego, O.F.M. Cap.

Regional Spiritual Assistant

Thought for the Day by Fr. Francis – October, 2018

October 2018

Let us desire nothing else, let us wish for nothing else,

let nothing else please us and cause us delight, except our Creator and redeemer and Savior,

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

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

Who alone is kind, innocent, pure, from Whom and through Whom and in Whom is all pardon, all grace, all glory … 

Therefore, let nothing hinder us, nothing separate us or come between us. Let us all, wherever we are …

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

Amen.

(Saint Francis of Assisi)

Following are excerpts taken from: A Letter on the Passing of Saint Francis (attributed to Elias of Assisi)

Daily reflections are taken from various sources

 1

Before I begin to speak, I sign, and rightly so… For what I reared has overtaken me and has overtaken you. What I dreaded has happened to me and to you. Our consoler has gone away from us and he who carried him in his arms like lambs has gone on a journey to a far off country. – God is with you, God is within you, dwell for a moment in God’s presence.

2

He who was beloved of God and of man, who taught Jacob the law of life and of discipline, and gave to Israel a covenant of peace has been received into the most resplendent of dwellings. We would rejoice exceedingly on his account, yet for our own part we must mourn, since in his absence darkness surrounds us and the shadow of death covers us. – Holiness is where we are.

3

It is a loss for all, yet it is a trial singularly my own, for he has left me in the midst of darkness, surrounded by many anxieties and pressed me down by countless afflictions. For this reason mourn with me, brothers…For we are orphans without our father and bereaved of the light of our eyes. – If you have the virtue of obedience you have all the other virtues.

4

(Taken from the later part of the Letter of Elias) On the fourth day before the nones of October, the Lord’s day, at the first hour of the preceding light, our father and brother went to Christ.  I am sure dearest brothers, that when this letter reaches you, you will follow the footprints of the people of Israel as they mourned the loss of their great leaders, Moses and Aaron. Let us, by all means, give way to tears for we are deprived of so great a father. – From silly devotions and sour-faced saints, may the good Lord deliver us!

5

The presence of our brother and father Francis was a light …  He was a light shed by the true light to give light to those who were in darkness and sitting in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace… The true Daystar from on high shone upon his heart and enkindles his will with the fire of His love. – Union with God is perfect when our will has become free of all things and clings to God alone.

6

By preaching the kingdom of God and turning the hearts of fathers to their children and the rebellious to then wisdom of the just, he prepared for the Lord a new people in this world. His name reached distant coasts and all lands were in awe at his marvelous deeds. – – The best way of praying is the way in which you can pray the most fervently.

7

Do not mourn beyond measure.  God, the father of orphans, will give us comfort by his holy consolation.  If you weep, brothers, weep for yourselves and not for him. In the midst of life we are caught in death, while he has passed from death to life. – Do not allow aridity in prayer to trouble you, for perfection does not consist in having delights but in possessing virtue.

8

Rejoice, for like another Jacob, he blessed all his sons before he was taken from us and forgave them all the faults which any one of us might have committed, or even thought of committing, against him. – Devotion is devotedness: lifting our thoughts to God, loving Him, living with Him.

9

And now, after telling you these things, I announce to you a great joy and the news of a miracle.  Such a sign that has

never been heard of from the dawn of time except in the Son of God, who is Christ the Lord. – No heart can ever be empty when God is in it. And He will always be in the heart when we pray!

10

Not long before his death, our brother and father appeared crucified, bearing in his body the five wounds which are truly the marks of Christ.  His hands and his feet had as it were the openings of the nails and were pierced front and back revealing the scars and showing the nails’ blackness.  His side, moreover, seemed opened by a lance and often emitted blood. – If there has been any good in me, and if any fruit has grown from my littleness, it was due entirely to the help of the grace of God.

11

As long as his spirit lived in the body, there was no beauty in him for his appearance was that of a man despised.  No part of his body was without great suffering. – To do good without God’s help is as impossible as to make the sun shine at night.

12

His limbs were stiff, much like those of a dead man.  But after his death, his appearance was one of great beauty gleaming with dazzling whiteness and giving joy to all who looked upon him. – God is a generous spender, tossing the coins of His grace everywhere with Divine abandon.

13

His limbs, which had been rigid, became marvelously soft and pliable, so that they would be turned this way and that, like those of a child. Therefore, brothers, bless the God of heaven and earth and praise Him before all, for He has shown His mercy to us. – Grace ignored ultimately means grace withheld, grace repudiated, grace denied.

14

Hold fast the memory of our father and brothers, Francis, to the praise and glory of Him Who made him so great among people and gave him glory in the sight of angels. – Self-reform is impossible, at least difficult and disheartening, without self-knowledge.

15

Pray for him, as he begged us, and pray to him that God may make us share with him in his holy grace. Amen. – Knowledge of self is a life-long study. It embraces all that is ours…enlightened by faith.

16

Indeed, it is in keeping with our love for him that we rejoice with Francis.  Still, it is right to mourn him! It belongs to us to rejoice with Francis, for he has not died but gone to the fair in heaven… – Lord, grant that I may know You, grant that I may know myself.

17

At the same time, it is right for us to weep for Francis.  He who came and went among us, as did Aaron, who brought forth from his storehouse both the new and the old and comforted us in all our afflictions, has been taken from our midst.  Now we are like orphans without a father. – A saint is person like us who gets what he wants by working for it…a life-time.

18

Because it is written, the poor depend on you and you are the helper of orphans, all of you dearest brothers, must earnestly pray that, though this earthen jar has been broken in the valley of Adam’s children, the Most High Potter will deign to repair and restore another of similar honor, who will rule over the multitude of our race and go before us in battle like a true Maccabee. – We must speak to those in need with our hands before we speak to them with our lips.

19

Francis the servant and friend of the Most High, founder and leader of the Order of Lesser Brothers, the practitioner of poverty, the model of penance, the herald of truth, the mirror of holiness, and exemplar of all Gospel perfection, foreordained by grace from heaven, in ordered progression, from the lowest level arrived at the very heights. – The shortest road to heaven is the way of the cross.

20

The Lord made incomparably more brilliant in death this marvelous man, whom he had made marvelously bright in life… – To persevere bravely in spite of the lack of sweetness and relish in prayer – this is the sign of the spirit of God.

21

(He made him) rich in poverty, exalted in humility, vigorous in mortification, ,prudent in simplicity, distinguished in the integrity of life. – Holiness is a process of slow steady and growth: of trying, failing, trying, failing, and still undaunted, trying again.

22

After this blessed man left the world, that sacred spirit … left certain signs of future glory imprinted on his body; so that his holy flesh … bore the likeness of Christ’s passion by a singular privilege and would offer by the newness of a miracle a glimpse of the resurrection. – We cannot become good by wishing for it but by working for it.

23

In his blessed hands and feet could be seen the nails that had been marvelously fashioned by divine power of his flesh, and thus embedded in the flesh – If we are to reach heaven by a devout life, sky-gazing and daydreaming will not help.  We must come down to earth, plant our feet firmly on the ground, and take one step at a time, like a child learning how to walk.

24

The wound in his side could be clearly seen, which was not inflicted on his body nor produced by human means; it was like the wound in the Savior’s side… – The most crippling obstacle to holiness is our expecting too much too soon…A great saint said: I shall be very happy if I am free of all imperfections only fifteen minutes before I die.

25

His sons were weeping at the loss of so lovable a father but were filled with no little joy while they kissed the seal marks of the Supreme King in him. – God who has promised pardon to the penitent sinner, has nowhere promised him who delays his conversion a tomorrow to do penance in.

26

So unique and so remarkable was the sight to all who observed it that it confirmed their faith and incited their love. – If we are determined to do good and become holy, if tomorrow, why not now!

27

When the people heard of the passing of our blessed father and news of the miracle had spread, they hurried to the place to see with their own eyes so that they could dispel all doubt and add joy to their love. – Too late have I loved You, O Beauty ever ancient and ever new, too late have I loved You.

28

A great number of the citizens of Assisi were admitted to contemplate the sacred marks with their own eyes and to kiss them with their lips. – Without penance we shall never advance beyond mediocrity.

29

The venerable father left the shipwreck of this world in the 1226th year of the Incarnation of the Lord, on the fourth day of the nones of October, a Saturday evening, and was buried on Sunday. Immediately, the holy man began to reflect the light radiating from the face of God … – Too many people are curious to know the lives of others, but careless to amend their own.

30

in different parts of the world, his glorious miracles and the abundant benefits obtained through him, inflamed many to devotion to Christ and incited them to reverence for his saint. –Without repentance there will be no reform of self; without reform of self there will be no progress in virtue; and without progress in virtue we shall never come closer to God.

31

The wonderful things which God was working through his servant Francis – acclaimed by word of mouth and testified to by facts – came to the ears of the Supreme Pontiff, Gregory IX…(who) was fully convinced of Francis’ remarkable holiness: not only from hearing of the miracles after his death, but also from his own experience during his life…He had no doubt that Francis was glorified in heaven by the Lord … – Live the Gospel without compromise, live like Christ…

 

 

Thoughts from your Regional Formation Director

Thoughts from your Regional Formation Director
September 2018

Greetings to you my sisters and brothers in Christ and Saint Francis of Assisi. All peace and good be with you! As summer comes to a close, and school starts again we enter into another cycle of change! Soon we will see the leaves change color and the air start to get cool and crisp. And so as the seasons change so do we. We grow and learn all our lives. It should never stop.

As we said in August’s “Thoughts from your Regional Formation Director” we were going to continue the discussion concerning the Inquires and the interview process. We had said that there should be no doubt in the minds and hearts of any of the council and formation team before a person is moved on into candidacy. That does not mean that the discernment process is over by any means. All it means is that there are no obvious concerns that the person is not ready or does not have a possible vocation!

When there is some objection by one of the council and or formation team this must be resolved before any action is taken. So, now that we have an individual or several individuals voicing some concern, what do you do? A lot of talking and even more listening. The council and formation team must explore the objections or concerns in a loving and charitable way but also focus on truth. A very good tool to use are the two lists in the resource “The Franciscan Journey i called “Signs that may indicate the presence of a vocation to the SFOii” and the invers, “Signs that may indicate that a vocation to the SFO is not present”. The council and the formation team should prayerfully go thru those lists and ask if any of the signs of vocation are there and if any of the signs that a vocation is NOT present are there.

Now, any one of us could read the lists and look at the signs that a vocation is not present and apply some of them to our own lives. After all we are all human and in need of grace ourselves. The question should be, does an individual live in those signs or perpetually act them out, not occasionally fall into one or two of them. After a  thorough discussion and evaluation another vote should be taken. By the way, only the council votes, that is the Minister, Vice Minister, Formation Director, Treasurer, Secretary, Spiritual Assistant and any elected Councilors at Large. If any members of the formation team are not elected, they do not vote.

In all cases, if there is still any doubt, the person should not move to candidacy. The next thing to do is ask “What Now?” Should the individual be asked to continue some other form of initial formation? If the individual lacks basic Catholic understanding, maybe they should be asked to attend a local RCIA program, then come back. It may be a simple although hard, as to honestly discuss with them why the council voted the way they did and give them the opportunity to correct their behavior. But do not leave it to chance thinking that they will “get it” in candidacy. That only hurts them and the fraternity.

Next month we will continue the discussion on Candidacy, the Rite of Admission and tips on progressing thru the process.
Pax et Bonum
Peace and all Good
Ted Bienkowski, OFS
SKD Region Formation Director

iPages 15 ‐ 18
ii SFO is now referred to as OFS “Order of Franciscan Seculars”

From the Heart of Our Minister - June 2018

On Wednesday, I took myself to the movies and saw Pope Francis: A Man of His Word.  I knew it only had one more showing at the Bryn Mawr Film Institute and yet I was dragging my feet about going.  I told myself the week before that I was absolutely going to get there before it left the theater.  But every day there were a half dozen reasons why it couldn’t be that day.  It wasn’t going alone that bothered me.  In the nine years that I have been widowed, I have learned if I want to do something….go do it!

So to insure that I got there, I went on line and bought my ticket.  Now that I had spent $$, I was much more likely to get there. And so I went.

To my surprise and delight, the opening scene is about St. Francis.  The movie hadn’t run more than 10 minutes when I was rummaging in my handbag for paper and pen.  I wanted to write down everything the Pope was saying.

I have loved Pope Francis from the day we saw the white smoke.  After seeing this movie, I love him more. He is the definition of humility……and kindness…..and compassion. But he is not afraid to tell it like it is.

The first thing I wrote down on a scrap of paper I found in my pocketbook was the Pope’s question:  “Who is the poorest of the poorest of the poor?”  Mother Earth!  Because we rob her continually and don’t give back.  Sounds like a Franciscan opportunity to me!

The next note I have is “The Church is suffering from Spiritual Dementia”.  Wow.  He pulls no punches there.  I take the message as the Church has forgotten where it came from.  Go back to the grassroots of the church and look around. Yes, there were troubles and persecutions, but the Apostles didn’t worry about where they would sleep at night or where their next meal would come from. Carrying God’s love out to the people was all they could or needed to carry.

Then my notes went to “We are a culture of waste.  We look at the Earth upside down.  We are not the Earth’s master but its caretaker”.  Culture of waste, you can say that again.  Every part of our lives has become disposable.  Food, products, people…. even ourselves.  How much do you value yourself?  Enough to slow down?   Another quote from the movie is “We run with the accelerator all the way down which ends up affecting our mental health, physical health and spiritual health.”  I need to take some time to meditate on this one!

I know there were many more jewels to be had from this movie and I wasn’t keeping up with my note taking.  I want to see the movie again to hear what I missed the first time and to have what I did hear be reaffirmed.

The movie ended beautifully with another scene of St. Francis. When I walked out of the theater, there was a woman standing on the sidewalk waiting for her husband to pick her up.  She saw my Tau cross and asked if I had just seen the Pope Francis movie.  When I said yes, we looked at each other and just sighed.  We talked for several minutes and I found out her father had been a Secular Franciscan.  When her husband pulled up, my new friend, Peggy, and I spontaneously hugged each other.  It was a blessed moment.  Two days later, I’m still feeling blessed.

The movie isn’t being shown in many of the main stream theaters, but if you Google the title, Pope Francis, A Man of His Word,  all the places which are showing it will come up.  Do yourself a huge favor and go see it.  You are worth it!

 

 

 

 

OFS Prayer Intentions for 2018

2018 MONTHLY INTENTIONS OF PRAYER – OFS and YOUFRA

 

To underline our communion with the Pope, we offer the intention of the Holy Father for the month and an intention for OFS according to the life and important events of the Order.

2018

January

For the Evangelization: That Christians, and other religious minorities in Asian Countries, may be able to practice their faith in full freedom.

OFS: For the national fraternities of Togo, Mozambique, and Korea.

Our Father…

February

Universal: That those who have material, political or spiritual power may resist any lure of corruption.

OFS: For the national fraternities of RD Congo (VP), and Cyprus (VFP).

Our Father…

Marzo

For the Evangelization: That the Church may appreciate the urgency of formation in spiritual discernment, both on the personal and communitarian levels.

OFS: For the national fraternities of Brazil (VFP), Switzerland, Russia and Japan.

Our Father…

April

Universal: That economists may have the courage to reject any economy of exclusion and know how to open new paths.

OFS: For the national fraternities of Mauritius, Cuba, Latvia, Taiwan and for the CIOFS Presidency.

Our Father…

May

For the Evangelization: That the lay faithful may fulfil their specific mission, by responding with creativity to the challenges that face the world today.

OFS: For the national fraternities of Canada, Costa Rica and New Zealand (VFP).

Our Father…

June

Universal: That social networks may work towards that inclusiveness which respects others for their differences.

OFS: For the national fraternities of Haiti, Czech Republic, Germany, Denmark, El Salvador, Austria, Malawi and Puerto Rico.

Our Father…

July

For the Evangelization: That priests, who experience fatigue and loneliness in their pastoral work, may find help and comfort in their intimacy with the Lord and in their friendship with their brother priests.

OFS: For the national fraternities of Rwanda and for the Pan-African Congress.

Our Father…

August

Universal: That any far-reaching decisions of economists and politicians may protect the family as one of the treasures of humanity.

OFS: For the national fraternities of Paraguay (VFP), Ireland, Brazil and the European Congress.

Our Father…

September

Universal: That young people in Africa may have access to education and work in their own countries.

OFS: For the national fraternities of Great Britain, Oceania Australia (VFP), Angola and Sweden.

Our Father…

October

For the Evangelization: That consecrated religious men and women may bestir themselves, and be present among the poor, the marginalized, and those who have no voice.

OFS: For the national fraternities of Croatia (VFP), Sri Lanka and India.

Our Father…

November

Universal: That the language of love and dialogue may always prevail over the language of conflict.

OFS: For the national fraternities of the United States, Portugal, Vietnam (VFP), Nicaragua (VFP) and for the CIOFS Presidency.

Our Father…

Dicember

For the Evangelization: That people, who are involved in the service and transmission of faith, may find, in their dialogue with culture, a language suited to the conditions of the present time.

OFS: For all the national fraternities in difficulty.

Our Father…

 

 

Father Francis' Reflections for November 2017

November 2017

Most High, all-powerful, good Lord,

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

To you alone, Most High, do they belong,

and no human is worthy to mention Your name.

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

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

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

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

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

from whom no one living can escape.

Woe to those who die in mortal sin.

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

for the second death shall do them no harm.

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

Amen.

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

 

The month of November celebrates Life Everlasting of those in God’s Glory and those in God’s Mercy.

Daily reflections are taken from various sources

1

(St. Francis) did indeed come down from where the sun rises, as, ever rising from strength to strength, following the deeds of Christ as he grew in his humanity, he configured his holy way of living to the life of Christ. – We were made for heaven. The Christian life means journeying here below with our hearts turned upwards, toward our heavenly Father’s house.

2

This reached the high point of his carrying the seal of the living God; he lived to become worthy to have on his body the imprints of the wounds of the Crucified. – Pray fervently for the dead, for their family members, and for all our brothers and sisters who have died, that they may obtain the remission of the punishments due to their sins and may hear the Lord’s call.

3

Now, as to Christ’s life itself, an attentive survey of the gospels will reveal its salient features, its most striking notes: the crucifixion, the profound humility, the extreme poverty, the fervor of charity shown by desiring our salvation in undergoing the torment of the cross, as well as by the sheer graciousness of His stooping to compassionate sinners and the afflicted. – The ‘little ones’ according to the gospel are those who know they are God’s creatures and shun all presumption. They expect everything from the Lord and so are never disappointed.

4

Yet the crowning perfection of Christ’s life lay in His interior cultivation and consummation of divine charity.  In one continuous act, on His own behalf and that of all His members, He duly paid the service of worship to the divinity, to which in His own person He was united. – This is the basic attitude of the believer: Faith and humility are inseparable.

5

The fact is that the Blessed Jesus, virginal Son born of virginity, saw fit to transfuse purity into (Francis), since complete cleanness cannot live in tainted flesh without a continuous crucifixion of self. That is why the most pious Jesus…afflicted His own sacred flesh…Francis, his true son and imitator, taking this to heart, disciplined himself so rigidly… – Justice and peace are not abstract concepts or remote ideals. They are values that dwell in the heart of every individual.

6

So, he called his frail body an ‘ass’, gave it endless hard work to do, provided it with coarse coverings and a bed of straw, and fed it with small amounts of inferior fare. – Individuals, families, communities, and nations, all are called to live in justice and to work for peace. No one can claim exemption from this responsibility.

7

In order to achieve full purity of heart he completely abstained from all familiarity which might inwardly defile him and give bad example to others. – Freedom is not only the choice for one or another particular action; it is also, within that choice, a decision about oneself and a setting of one’s own life for or against the good, for or against the truth, and ultimately for or against God.

8

He had become so candid in mind, so clean in heart, that he seemed to have attained the state of innocence at that time … he had practically all creatures, even the inanimate, at his command; a level of grace, indeed, in which he surpassed natural innocence … Thus did the elements put themselves at the service of the unspoiled Francis – If we truly love with the love of God, we will also love our brothers or sisters as God loves them. This is the newness of Christianity: One cannot love God if one does not love one’s brethren.

9

He so perfectly imitated Christ that his wish was to place himself and his Order at the feet of everybody.  In order to be the least of all, he did not want to have any of the Church’s authority, except her authority for observing the holy Gospel. – The indispensable source of energy and renewal, when frailty and weakness increase, is the encounter with the living Christ, Lord of the covenant.

10

He certainly wanted to promote the salvation of souls, but only through the virtue of humility, not with pompous power. And though … he had several Supreme Pontiffs … who held him in the highest regard, sincerely convinced of his sanctity … he would never ask for or accept any privilege that might diminish his being a humble subject. – Develop an intense spiritual life and open your soul to the word of life.

11

For this reason, Francis, in his holy Testament, forbids all brothers, prelates, and subjects, to ask for any letter from the Apostolic See either to facilitate the work of preaching or to avoid persecution. The humble Francis used to say that when they meekly ask permission of bishops and priests, they were by their example edifying the very pastors of the Church – To pray is not to escape from history and the problems that it presents.  On the contrary, it is to choose to face reality not on our own, but with the strength that comes from on high, the strength of truth and love, which have their ultimate source in God.

12

Even if permission were refused, patience and humility will bring them to change their minds; meanwhile they themselves, by bearing refusal patiently, will keep intact a virtuous and flawless way of acting. – Human perfection consists not simply in acquiring an abstract knowledge of truth, but in a dynamic relationship of faithful self-giving with others.

13

To brothers who troubled him over their reluctance to be a this level of submissiveness to everyone, he replied in deeply plaintive terms: ‘My brothers, my brothers, what you want of me is to give up overcoming the world.  For Christ sent me top overcome the world by being subject to everyone, so that by love I might draw souls to Him through the example of humility’. – Let yourself be charmed by God, the Infinite, who appeared among you in visible and imitable form.

14

‘My brothers, humble yourselves before others, and you will convert them all.  Those who persecute you unjustly will turn to Christ, having seen your patience tried, and they will be anxious to kiss your footprints…’ – Fall in love with Jesus Christ, to live his very life, so that our world may have life in the light of the gospel.

15

‘But if I were to use the salvation of others as a pretext for wanting some prerogative, it would mean my forfeiting the humblest of positions which belongs to the condition I am in.  And it is through that  I advance in virtue, and the people advance in the mercy that save them’. – Love is the principle of divine life in the soul. Love is the law of our abiding in Christ.

16

He wanted to rule out for them all affectation to ecclesiastical dignity and maintain them in their lowly existence.  For this reason he called them ‘lesser’, so that they would not presume to become ‘greater’, and in no way did he wish them to aspire to the rank of prelacy. – Only genuine evangelical love will be strong enough to help communities pass from mere tolerance of others to real respect for their differences.

17

For everybody knows well enough that their ascent to rank spelled their descent from virtue…what they sought in promotion was not so much an improvement of other’s conduct as a life of relaxation for themselves. For, self-denying once, they have turned into gluttons; poor men once, they have become grasping and greedy; thought nothing of once, they have ended up proud and arrogant. – Only Christ’s redeeming grace can make us victorious in the daily challenge of turning from egoism to altruism, from fear to openness, from rejection to solidarity.

18

Oh, what a true prophet Francis was! …  The humble Francis, in order to keep himself on the lowest possible level and to confound the ambitions of the future, had no desire to be promoted to the priesthood.  As he saw it, … the guidance of souls was not to be conducted through prelacy, if it were to be beneficial, but rather to be committed to the spirit of poverty. – We need more heart.

19

To men of perfection…nothing should be a source of bother except what would drive them to sin, to which, of course, no one is forced against his will. – God’s love is love which is freely given … He loved us first.  He took the initiative.

20

Apart from Jesus, his most humble Mother, and the college of the Apostles, never should the world have in it such a profound expression of lowliness as that of this status of poor lesser ones, nor indeed such a gross deformation of it as that of those who fall away. – To heal the wounds of a recent bitter and painful past, one needs patience and wisdom, a spirit of initiative and honesty.

21

And because Francis crushed pride underfoot with his humility, he held off the proud demons with authority.  Therefore he was showing that his status was blasting away pride from the world. – The Christian vocation is walking with men and women as brothers or sisters, sharing their joys and hopes, difficulties and sufferings, offering them the road word which rekindles hope in their hearts.

22

For whoever, like Francis, keeps the humility of Jesus continually before his eyes and is delighted to resemble Him in meekness of heart, will subject himself to everyone and loathe issuing commands and prohibitions. The blessed Francis did commend humble obedience in the strongest terms, and observed it to the extent of always wanting to obey his brother companion. – Selfishness makes people deaf and dumb.

23

(Francis) put a restraining clause (in the Rule) to protect subjects, when he told ministers not to command them anything that is against their souls and our Rule, and subjects to obey in all things which they have promised the Lord to observe and are not against their souls and our Rule. – Love opens eyes and hearts, enabling people to make that original and irreplaceable contribution which … can change the tide of history.

24

The obedience of Francis cannot contain a greater purity, integrity, or depth, since it obeys in all things and refuses to obey false traditions that destroy the Rule, for to obey them is to apostatize.  Because it follows from the fact a prelate (superior) derives his authority from the Rule, that to command or obey something contrary to it is to apostatize from the Rule. – Ezekiel 21-22; Sirach 31.1-15; 1 John 3 – The future of evangelization depends in great part on the church of the home.

25

But, do we want to go further with Francis’s idea of obedience?  He himself, after all, was in everything the least of all the lesser ones. Well might we compare him to the tiniest of infants … or to the smallest of all seeds … or to the least of all the saints … or to Benjamin, the smallest of his brothers, who in many ways was a type of Francis… – Every authentically religious person is obliged to ask God for the gift of peace, with renewed determination to promote and build peace together with other believers.

26

O Francis, true Benjamin! The first-born Joseph had you seated at the table of evangelical life with your other holy brothers.  There your portion exceeds the others by the five portions of the sacred wounds … – It is not easy to proclaim the gospel in a world that claims not to need God.  Yet we are bound by the compelling words of St. Paul: ‘Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel’

27

He leads the whole Church of the people of Israel to the evangelical life and the full news of Christ … Humble and despised, the cup of your brothers’ evangelical wisdom and observance of the Rule and your most holy witness is contained, hidden, in the sack of observance of poverty. – The desire for unity is born and grows from the renewal of the mind, the love of truth, self-denial, and the free outpouring of love.

28

How Francis proved himself the friend of the bridegroom, by striving to conform himself to Jesus through the fervor of his charity and desire for the salvation of those to whom he was brother, is evinced by the fact that from the beginning of his conversion to the end he blazed continually like a fire with an ardent love for Jesus. – If you want peace, reach out to the poor!

29

Fanned by the breath of the Holy Spirit, he kept the furnace of his heart ever ignited, so that once he heard the love of God mentioned he was excited, moved, and animated as the beloved spouse … – God loves everyone, … wills the good of everyone, … and offers to everyone the gift of peace!

30

All things created were a means by which he fired this love of his.  Through looking on things of beauty he would contemplate the Beautiful; in frail creatures he would recognize the infirmities which Jesus in His goodness bore for our salvation.  He made a ladder of everything by which he could reach the One he loved. – Every day dedicate some time to conversing with God.  This is a sincere proof of your love for him, for love always seeks to be near the beloved.

 

JPIC Statement from recent conference

Aug. 3, 2017

ST LOUIS, MO — The U.S. Secular Franciscan Order’s Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Commission (JPIC) is urging the world community “to use prayer, caution, wisdom, earnest discernment and patience” before responding to recent developments on the Korean peninsula. It called nuclear threat or use a “crime against humanity.”

Here is the full statement issued after its JPIC Animate Peace Gathering held July 27-30 in St. Louis, MO.

“We, the National Commission of Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation (JPIC) of the U.S. Secular Franciscan Order met July 27-30, 2017 in St. Louis, Missouri for a National Animate Peace Gathering. Twenty JPIC Animators from around the nation gathered for a weekend of sharing, learning and fellowship. During the gathering, North Korea launched an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM), which has heightened tensions in the world.

“In the Gospel Spirit of St. Francis of Assisi, we urge the world community to use prayer, caution, wisdom, earnest discernment and patience before responding to these recent developments on the Korean peninsula. Any use or threat of use of nuclear weapons is a crime against humanity and all creation. Our efforts towards mutual respect and understanding should be long-term.”

The Secular Franciscan Order (Ordo Franciscanus Saecularis) is a world-wide order of single, married and clerical Catholics who strive to live the Gospel in the spirit of St. Francis. There are more than 12,000 professed members in the U.S.

Formation materials from the 2017 Annual Regional Meeting

As promised, here are the materials from the four presentation given at our regional gathering in March:

Letters of St. Francis to the Persons He Loved (Justin Carisio, OFS)

The Bardi Dossal (Lee Potts, OFS)

The Wolf of Gubbio: Francis Teaches Conflict Resolution (Frank Urso, OFS)

Prayer Before the Cross: Meditation on the San Damiano Cross (Kathy Agosto)

SKD Region Weekend in Easton - March 24 - 26

Hello everyone –  just a quick reminder about our weekend in Easton which takes place March 24 – 26. As always, all are welcome! Come spend some time with the Lord; catch up with your brothers and sisters from around the Region and enjoy the presentations on “Getting St. Francis Out of The Birdbath”.

Please fill out the registration form (available here — Word file, PDF) and send it in by February 28. Please share the details with those in your fraternity who are not on the internet. We all hope to see you in there!

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From the Heart of Our Minister January 2017

holy-family-sleeping

A very happy, healthy and blessed New Year! May God’s choicest blessings be ours in 2017.

I recently saw the above picture on the internet and loved the rendition of Joseph, Mary and their newborn son and God. Their love is holding them together. Joseph is protecting Jesus and Mary, even in sleep.

This morning at Mass, the Recessional Hymn was God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen. A few minutes before Mass started, Sister Linda, our Music Director, gave some background on this Christmas Carol.  She wondered why there is a comma after the word Merry. So she traveled through Google until she found an answer.  This Carol has been used in church back to the 15th century.  The original Old English title meant something different than what we think of today. The word ‘rest’  meant surround or hold close.  ‘Merry’ came across as joyful / peaceful. God, surround us with joy and peace;  how Franciscan does that sound?? And how needed in today’s world! A phrase from Rule 19 reads:  they should strive to bring joy and hope to others.  We can’t give it to others if we don’t have it to offer.

Lord, may we surround ourselves in Your mantle of joy and peace in the coming year. Help us to nurture it and when we feel low, help us to come back to You for a refill – an abundant refill with enough to give a share to every child of Your’s that we encounter. Keep us near, Lord; it’s where we want to be!

Blessings,

kate