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The Secular Franciscan Order (SFO) is a branch of the world-wide Franciscan Family. We are single and married. Some of us are diocesan clergy. We work, worship and play in the community where we live.

The SFO was established by St. Francis of Assisi more than 800 years ago. Our purpose is to bring the gospel to life where we live and where we work. We look for practical ways to embrace the gospel in our lives and try to help others to do likewise.

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Thoughts for the Day – January 2021 by Father Francis Sariego OFM Cap

January 2021 

He was named Jesus, the name given by the angel. (Luke 2:16-21)

Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We have come to do him homage. (Matthew 2:1-12)

Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized in the Jordan by John.  

A voice came from the heavens, “You are my beloved Son. With you I am well pleased.”  Mark 1: 7-11)

Behold, the Lamb of God. We have found the Messiah.(John 1: 235-42)

Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men. (Mark 1: 14-20)

 

We adore You, O Christ, and we bless you! … O Wisdom of God, you are our wisdom … O Root of Jesse, you are the vine and we are the branches … O Lord of lords, you are the newborn child … O Key of David, you are the key to the gates of heaven … O Dayspring, you are the light of the world … O Ruler of the world, you are the Lord of lords … O Emmanuel, you are God-with-us … May all the world rejoice in your coming and live in your Light and Love.

Following excerpts from Legend of Three Companions / Daily meditations from various sources 

Chapter XII

HOW BLESSED FRANCIS WITH HIS ELEVEN COMPANIONS WENT TO THE PAPAL CURIA

THAT HE MIGHT INFORM HIM OF THEIR PROPOSAL

AND HAVE THE RULE THAT HE HAD WRITTEN CONFIRMED

1

Seeing that the Lord would increase his brothers in number and merit, since there were already twelve most perfect men expressing the same belief, blessed Francis said to the eleven, he being the twelfth, their leader and father: “Brothers, I see that the Lord mercifully wants to increase our congregation. Then, going to our mother, the holy Roman Church, let us inform the Supreme Pontiff what the Lord has begun to do through us, that, with his will and command, we may continue doing what we have undertaken.” – God loves you and He loves you tenderly. Turn to His goodness with every confidence.

2

And since the proposal of their father pleased the other brothers, and they had embarked together with him on the journey to the Curia, he said to them: “Let us make one of us our leader and consider that man a kind of vicar of Jesus Christ, so that wherever he wants to go, we will go, and whenever he wants to rest, we will rest.” – May Jesus comfort and bless you. Dispel childish fears.

3

And they chose Brother Bernard, the first after blessed Francis, and, as the father said, they served him. They, then, made their way rejoicing and spoke about the words of the Lord, not daring to say anything except for the praise and glory of God and the benefit of the soul, and they frequently spent time in prayer. The Lord, on the other hand, prepared lodging for them, doing what was necessary to minister to them.- May the Infant Jesus bless, comfort, reward you for what you bear for love of Him.

4

When they arrived in Rome and found the bishop of the city of Assisi there, they were received with immense joy, for he honored blessed Francis and all the brothers with special affection. Not knowing the reason for their arrival, he began to be apprehensive, fearing that they might want to leave their native land, where the Lord had begun to do marvelous things through them. For he rejoiced to have in his diocese such men whose life and conduct he greatly appreciated.- Let trials be great. The One Who permits them to you is greater and more provident.

5

After he learned their purpose and understood their plan, however, he was overjoyed and promised them his counsel and help. The bishop was known to the cardinal bishop of Sabina, named Lord John of Saint Paul, a man truly full of God’s grace, who loved, in particular, servants of God. The bishop of Assisi made the life of blessed Francis and his brothers clear to him. On this account, he was eager to meet the man of God and some of his brothers. Hearing that they were in the City, he sent for those men and welcomed them with great reverence and love.– Religion is the academy of perfection.

6

During the few days they were staying with that man, they so edified him with their holy words and example, that, seeing what he had heard about them to shine in deed, he commended himself humbly and devoutly to their prayers. He even asked them, as a special grace, to be considered one of their brothers. – The soul must learn to allow itself to be smoothed by the divine Spirit.

7

Then asking blessed Francis the reason why he came and hearing from him their entire proposal and intention, he offered to be their procurator at the Curia. That cardinal then went to the Curia and told the Lord Pope Innocent III: “I found a most perfect man, who wishes to live according to the form of the holy Gospel, and to observe evangelical perfection in all things. I believe that the Lord wills, through him, to reform the faith of the holy Church throughout the world.” Hearing this, the lord pope was greatly amazed and had the cardinal bring blessed Francis to him. – Make positive acts of love for God and confidence in His goodness.

8

On the following day, therefore, the man of God was presented by that cardinal to the pope, to whom he revealed his entire holy proposal. The pope, a man of extraordinary discernment, in due fashion assented to Francis’s request, and encouraged him and his brothers in many ways. He blessed them saying: “Go with the Lord, brothers, and as He will see fit to inspire you, preach penance to everyone. When almighty God increases you in number and grace, come back to us. We will grant you more, and entrust you with a greater charge.” – Take heart and do not fear. Jesus is with you.

9

Before the saint left his presence, the Lord Pope wanted to know whether what had been, and what would be conceded, was according to the Lord’s will. And so, he said to him and his companions: “My dear young sons, your life seems to Us exceptionally hard and severe. While we believe there can be no question about your living it because of your great zeal, We must take into consideration those who will come after you lest this way of life seem too burdensome.” – The best way to avoid falling is to lean on the cross.

10

So he said to blessed Francis: “My son, go and pray that God will reveal to you whether what you ask proceeds from His will. In this way, knowing the Lord’s will, we may accede to your desires.” Once God’s saint had prayed, as the Lord Pope suggested, the Lord spoke figuratively to him in spirit (relating the story of the poor and beautiful woman with many sons) – Courage, for the Lord is closer to you than ever before.

11

After he completed his prayer, he presented himself to the Supreme Pontiff and narrated point-by-point the story that the Lord had revealed to him. “My lord,” he said, “I am that little poor woman whom the loving Lord, in His mercy, has adorned, and through whom He has been pleased to give birth to legitimate sons. The King of kings had told me that He will nourish all the sons born to me, because, if He feeds strangers, He must provide for His own. For if God gives temporal goods to sinful men out of love for providing for His children, how much more will He give to Gospel men who deserve these things out of merit.” – Arm yourself with the beautiful virtue of trust in the Lord.

12

On hearing this, the pope was greatly amazed, especially since, before blessed Francis’s arrival, he had seen in a vision the church of Saint John Lateran threatening to collapse, and a religious, small and of shabby appearance, supporting it on his own shoulders. When he awoke, stunned and shaken, as a discerning and wise man He pondered what this vision meant to tell him.- Take heed of the assurances which God gives you.

13

A few days later, blessed Francis came to him, made known his proposal, as we have said, and asked him to confirm the rule he had written in simple words, using the words of the holy Gospel, for whose perfection he fully longed. As he was reflecting on how enthusiastic blessed Francis was in God’s service, and comparing his vision with that shown to the man of God, he began to say to himself: “This is indeed that holy and religious man through whom the church of God will be sustained and supported.” – Praise be Jesus who is Master of your heart, and will never cease to console you.

14

So he embraced him and approved the rule he had written. He also gave him and his brothers permission to preach penance everywhere, with the stipulation that the brothers who preach obtain permission from blessed Francis. Afterwards he approved this in a consistory. Therefore, after obtaining these favors, blessed Francis thanked God, and on bended knees, promised obedience and reverence to the Lord Pope humbly and devoutly. The other brothers, in accordance with the precept of the Lord Pope, promised obedience and reverence to blessed Francis in a similar way. – What a consolation it is to know almost with certainty that one possesses Jesus.

15

After receiving a blessing from the Supreme Pontiff and visiting the tombs of the Apostles, blessed Francis and the other eleven brothers were given the tonsure. With his brothers, (Francis) set out into the world, greatly growing each day in the hope and trust of the Savior. – Our justification by God is so enormous that sacred Scripture compares it  to the resurrection of Jesus.

 

Chapter XIII

THE EFFICACIOUS PREACHING OF BLESSED FRANCIS

AND THE FIRST PLACE HE HAD

HOW THE BROTHERS STAYED THERE AND HOW THEY LEFT

 

16

From then on, blessed Francis, going around the cities and villages, began to preach more widely and more perfectly proclaiming the kingdom of God with confidence, not in the persuasive words of human wisdom, but in the learning and power of the Holy Spirit. Strengthened by apostolic authority, he was a forthright preacher of truth, not using fawning words or seductive flattery, because he first convinced himself by action and then convinced others by word, so that he spoke the truth with the greatest fidelity. – God revealed His power more fully in our justification than in making heaven and earth from nothing.

17

Even a very great number of learned and well-educated people marveled at his power and truth, which no human had taught, and they hurried to see and hear him as if he were a person of another age. Drawn by divine inspiration, many people, well-born and lowly, cleric and lay, began to cling to blessed Francis’s footsteps, and, after they had abandoned the concerns and vanity of this world, to live under his discipline. – Non-existence has no power to resist God’s will, while the sinner is capable of resisting all of God’s wishes.

18

The blessed father with his sons were staying in a place near Assisi called Rivo Torto where there was a hut abandoned by all. The place was so cramped that they could barely sit or rest. Very often for lack of bread, their only food was the turnips that they begged in their need, here and there. – God’s grace has raised us to be nothing less than His own children.

19

The man of God would write the names of the brothers on the beams of that hut, so that anyone wishing to rest or pray would know his place, and so that any unusual noise would not disturb the mind’s silence in such small and close quarters. – God’s children are destined to reign with His Son for all eternity.

20

One day while the brothers were staying in that place, a peasant came with his donkey, wanting to stay in that hut with it. And so that he would not be driven away by the brothers, on walking into the hut, he said to his donkey: “Go in, go in, because we will do well in this place.” – The struggle can be harsh and the blow painful, but your gaze fixed on high.

21

Then the man of God said to his brothers: “I know, brothers, that God did not call us to prepare a lodging for a donkey, nor to have dealings with men. While we are preaching the way of salvation to people and are giving them wise counsel, we should dedicate ourselves most of all to prayer and thanksgiving.” – Take heart, Jesus makes you hear the same He allowed St. Paul to hear.

22

They left that hut for the use of poor lepers, moving to a small dwelling near Saint Mary of the Portiuncula where they stayed from time to time before acquiring that church. – Fight valiantly and you will receive the reward of strong souls.

23

Afterwards blessed Francis, in accordance with God’s will and inspiration, obtained it from the abbot of the monastery of Saint Benedict on Mount Subasio near Assisi. The saint, in a special and affectionate way, commended this place to the general minister and to all the brothers, as the place loved by the glorious Virgin more than any other place or church in this world. – Never abandon yourself to yourself.

24

A vision one of the brothers had, while in the world, contributed much to the commendation and love of this place. Blessed Francis loved this brother with unique affection as long as he was with him, by showing him extraordinary affection. – In times of great struggle and prostration turn to prayer and trust in God.

25

This man, wanting to serve God—as he later did so faithfully in religion—saw in a vision that all the people of the world were blind and were kneeling in a circle around the church of Saint Mary of the Portiuncula with their hands joined and their faces raised to heaven.- You will never be overcome by temptation if you turn to God in trust.

26

In a loud and sobbing voice, they were begging the Lord in his mercy to give them sight. While they were praying, it seemed that a great light came from heaven and, resting on them, enlightened all of them with its wholesome radiance. On awakening, the man resolved to serve God more faithfully, and, shortly thereafter, leaving the world with its seductions, he entered religion where he persevered in the service of God with humility and dedication. – The Lord will not permit any struggle to affect you that is beyond your strength.

 

Chapter XIV

THE CHAPTER THAT WAS HELD TWICE A YEAR AT

SAINT MARY OF THE PORTIUNCULA

 

27

After blessed Francis had obtained that place of Saint Mary from the abbot of Saint Benedict, he ordered that a chapter be held. At Pentecost, all the brothers used to gather at the church of Saint Mary and discuss how they could better observe the Rule. They appointed brothers throughout the various provinces who would preach to the people, and assigned other brothers in their provinces. – If you are despised by the world, enjoy it.

28

Saint Francis, however, used to give admonitions, corrections, and directives as it seemed to him to be according to the Lord’s counsel. Everything that he said to them in word, however, he would show them in deed with eagerness and affection. He used to revere prelates and priests of the holy Church, and honored the elderly, the noble, and the wealthy. Moreover, he intimately loved the poor, suffering deeply with them, and he showed himself subject to all. – In any privation, temptation, and trial, raise your eyes on high and redouble your courage.

29

Although he was more elevated than all the brothers, he still appointed one of the brothers staying with him as his guardian and master. He zealously used to admonish the brothers to observe the holy Gospel and the Rule which they had firmly promised; and particularly to be reverent and devoted about divine services and ecclesiastical regulations, hearing Mass devotedly, and adoring the Body of the Lord even more devotedly. – The Lord is with you, and there is no reason to fear.

30

He wanted priests who handle the tremendous and greatest sacraments to be honored uniquely by the brothers…He also admonished the brothers not to judge anyone, nor to look down upon those who live with refinement and dress extravagantly or fashionably. For, he would say, their God is ours, the Lord Who is capable of calling them to Himself and justifying those called. He also used to tell them he wanted the brothers to show reverence to these people as their brothers and lords. They are brothers, because we were all created by one Creator. – Place your desire for the world in the hands of heavenly Providence.

31

“The brothers’ way of life among the people should be such that whoever hears or sees them glorifies and praises the heavenly Father with dedication.” He used to tell them: “As you announce peace with your mouth, make sure that greater peace is in your hearts. Let no one be provoked to anger or scandal through you, but may everyone be drawn to peace, kindness, and harmony through your gentleness. For we have been called to this: to heal the wounded, bind up the broken, and recall the erring. In fact, many who seem to us to be members of the devil will yet be disciples of Christ.” – Maintain a tranquil heart amidst your multiple concerns.

 

 

 

 

 

 

January 2021 Meditation by Father Francis Sariego, OFM Cap

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

January 2021

Dear Sisters and Brothers in St. Francis,

In this New Year of Grace 

The Lord bless you and keep you. 

The Lord let his face shine upon you, and be gracious to you! 

The Lord look upon you kindly and give you peace!

May He live in you. May you always live in Him 

Reading meditatively God’s Word offers answers to some of the basic questions in life: Where do I come from? Where am I going? What is life all about?  Why sickness, violence, death?  Why worldwide pandemic? Why political and economic unrest? Why is evil so prevalent if everything came from the hands of an all-loving God? And many more questions that leave the non-believer perplexed. Agnostics and Atheists (if there are any real and true atheists!) need to downplay or deny God, or discredit religious belief systems to quiet their own searching hearts.  Our hearts can find no rest until they rest in You, was St. Augustine’s Prayer.  How true that is for us all! God remains the Mystery, for those who do not seek Him, and the Eternal Contemporary, for those recognizing His presence in all creation. The history, counsels, prayers, prophecies, of the People of Israel and the Early Church that we find in Sacred Scripture is our story.  We are the People of God, the “People of the Book”, who see themselves in the anticipation of a Savior, in our encounter with Him in time, as we forge ahead in faith, hoping to fulfill the purpose for our creation that we may receive the gift of Life in full.

The drama of our redemption begins in the Book of Genesis and finds its fulfillment in the Book of Revelation. As chief characters in the drama of humanity’s redemption, Scripture speaks to us of God’s call to life and intimacy with Him, of humanity’s disobedient fall through pride because you will be like gods (Genesis 3:5), of humanity’s recall down the centuries through prophetic people who spoke in God’s Name, and of humanity’s redemption in Jesus, the Christ, the Messiah, the One-Who-Is-To-Come, Who is the Eternal Contemporary always with us – Emmanuel.  The writings of the New Covenant (New Testament),  through the teachings of the Apostles and the Book of Revelation,  guide us to live gratefully in this world, as pilgrims and strangers (Hebrews 11:13), until we reach the gift of Life pledged us when we entered our Covenant relationship with the Father, in Jesus, through the Holy Spirit. God’s Word helps us to reread our faith history from the perspective of God and eternity, rather than from our limited perspective of time alone. Throughout the inspired Word we seek to re-confirm the Covenant Love established with God in our Baptism, that we re-confirm each day as we enter trustingly and unconditionally into the Father’s Will.  We are called to stir into flame the gift God has given you (2 Timothy 1: 6) so that the excitement of being a people peculiarly His own (1 Peter 2:9) may never wane. Thus, if God is for us, who can be against us? (Romans 8:31)

God’s Word nourishes and nurtures all who receive His Word in truth and trust. The Word of God gives joy to His People. As long as God speaks with His People, His beloved children redeemed in the Blood of Christ, He is still ‘in touch’ with them. Scripture reminds us of God’s relentless and extravagant love for those who so often do not respond lovingly. After their return from the Babylonian exile, the People of Israel wept for joy when they heard The First Five Books of Scripture – ‘The Torah’, ‘The Law’- read to them. Scripture says that the people stood the good part of a day listening with joy to that of which for many years they had been deprived (cfr. Nehemiah 9). That Word was a constant reminder of God’s Loving Covenant with them and they, accepting to listen to the Word, reconfirmed their Covenant with God (cfr. Nehemiah 9). Through good times and bad their hearts were joyful. His Word was His presence. His Word was the sign that God had not abandoned them.  Even the most ‘tragic’ stories and prophecies of Scripture always end with hope in a God Who can never be vanquished.  We are reminded of our God Whose Word will not return until it has fulfilled the purpose for its being sent. (Isaiah 55:11)  All the Old Testament, read in the ‘Key of Christ’, prepares us to encounter God, the Almighty One, with whom we become victors with the Victor over sin and death, Jesus the Lord, the Word enfleshed in time that we might be ‘re-created’ by grace in His eternity.

The first day of the New Year celebrates the Motherhood of Mary and the Name of Jesus, the Word enfleshed.  Mary, the highest honor of our race (Judith 15:9), looks down to heaven in Her arms. The Infant in Her arms that She sees and loves is the fulfillment of Her People’s prayers and hopes.  She says His name JESUS, God is salvation, with a love only a mother can express.  All of Scripture is fulfilled in this Infant (cfr. Luke 1:26-35).  Mary saw and loved what St. John the Evangelist wrote of Him decades later: He was in the world … but the world did not know Him … to those who did accept Him He gave the power to become the children of God … The Word became flesh and dwelled among us … from His fullness we have all received, grace in place of grace … (1 John 1: 10-16) Jesus, the Word made flesh, is the living Covenant the Father makes with all creation. In His Name and redeeming Life-Death-Resurrection we enter into our Covenant with God through the Blood of the Lamb. (cfr. Revelation 7:14-17; 12:11)

Just as in the time of Jesus, our world is filled with so much that disturbs and distresses us: war, violence, natural disasters, social-economic-political-religious unrest, sickness and disease … Death!  If we take time to evaluate the times in which we live, there is so much good that is happening as well. There are people who believe in peace and strive to live it as a witness for others. There are women and men who come to the aid of their less fortunate sisters and brothers often at the cost of their own time-talents-personal treasures, and often even their lives. And what about the young people who seek and truly desire a better world and are willing to work for it at the price of their own comfort and convenience? Then there are the religious leaders who have stopped anathematizing each other because of differences, who are sincerely searching for better ways to appreciate the goodness God instills in every one of God’s children. How about the progress being made in curing debilitating and terminal diseases, and even the rapidity with which a vaccine was found to attempt to arrest the continued spread of the devastating and deadly global pandemic of our age.  Then there is love that brings young men and women to believe in the future and a sacramental commitment before God and the community in marriage. Then there are the infants born of love as a sign of trust in the hope and value of tomorrow. Oh! and there is so much more!  What about the wonderful moments that happen to each one of us personally (These we seem to fail to remember when something undesired occurs)?

The God of prophecy is a God Who sent His Son into the world not to condemn the world but that the world might be saved through Him. (John 3:17) All this should encourage our hearts to peace and joy, even in the midst of the challenges and outright disasters of life.  Inner peace and inner joy, fruits of loving hearts who trustingly surrender to God, give us the harmony and balance for which we yearn in such a cacophonous and unstable world. God’s inspired Word – the Word made flesh – teaches us through the written experiences of our ancestors in the faith. The reassuring message that keeps recurring at all the momentous times of our journey of faith through the millennia is: Do not be afraid! … It is!  (John 6: 20) Keep cheerful. Be at peace. Let God do as He pleases. None of the things you fear will come to pass. These re-assuring words of consolation were offered to set a troubled conscience at rest. It is as though someone was repeating a rather amusing statement that says: “What do you mean worry doesn’t help!  Everything I worried about never happened!”

Worry only destroys inner peace and clouds the vision of our hearts. Often we worry about matters we have no control over or of which we have no certain knowledge. Thus we compromise our inner peace and serenity in useless fretting.  Be concerned and alert, Yes! But worry is belief that failure is inevitable. Fear (or worry) is useless. What is needed is faith (Mark 5: 36). Fear (worry) leads to discouragement, which is one of satan’s best tools. While encouraging others, we must trust in God Who assists us in dealing with all that the He has allowed to occur in our life. We suffer and rejoice, are glad and fearful. These are very human responses to what surrounds us. Even the saints experienced sadness, pain, confusion, even fear. They too, even as our own seraphic Father St. Francis of Assisi, sought their ‘Simon of Cyrenes’ to help them bear the ‘cross of unknowing, confusion, pain, death’ by opening their heart to them. Nevertheless, ultimately, they surrendered to the love and mercy of God, trusting in His divine providence, and accepted everything. Everything was part of God’s plan they were called to fulfill. They surrendered and accepted with unimaginable joy and sincere gratitude.

The Poverello knew and recognized that his trials and pains were permitted by the One Who is perfectly knowing of all that happens to each one of us. Past, present, and future are all in His all-providing hands and divine Will. So why do we fear and tremble so much? When we accept the truth that the Lord created us with a depth of feelings that respond or react with so much seeming simultaneous delight and suffering, how can we not pause and just marvel?! Marvel? Yes, marvel at a God Who journeys with us at every moment and with everyone. One cannot help but be filled with a sense of inner serenity and joy. We should be immensely satisfied and happy. At the bad things we have experienced, NO! But at the challenges that lie ahead  that will show us at every turn the presence of the Eternal One guiding, guarding, protecting, and strengthening us to grow in His grace and our faith, trust and love for Him in His love for us.  May God be blessed forever!

As we enter a new calendar year no doubt our hearts and minds are filled with mixed emotions.  So much is happening in the world, our nation, and even in our neighborhoods and families, that often we look to the future with a sense of foreboding.  The new calendar creates an illusion of being able to be unaffected by the past that no longer exists, while at the same time it leaves us apprehensive about the future in a world in confusion and upheaval in so many places.  We get so taken up with the past and the future that we fail to graciously accept the ‘gift’, the ‘present’, God gives us to live in the Real Presence of His Eucharist that nourishes and His Word that nurtures and guides.  It is now, in the present, today, that the future opens up for each one of us.  We learn from the successes and failures of the past. We confidently look forward to a future in God’s loving-care. We live our present with simplicity and trust.  We know that we can be effective instruments in God’s plan capable of changing the world.  We must dispel fear and learn to trust. We trust in God, trust in others God has placed with us, trust in ourselves endowed by God with gifts of time to work, talents to use, and the treasure of life and love.

At His birth, Magi came from the east (Matthew 2:1-12). Their search for the Word made flesh is the search of everyone for the unseen God. When they opened the eyes of their heart and saw God in an Infant, Heaven in a stable, Magnificent Dignity in lowliness, Wisdom in external absurdity, Power in impotence, Providence in need, Love in rejection … then, and only then, could they, and we as well with them, acknowledge the wondrous exchange between eternity and time, the Creator and the creature. The Invisible becomes visible. The eternal enters time and is subject to it. The Almighty becomes fragile. The Unknowable is seen. The Spirit becomes a body to love and nurture, hands to caress, and a heart beating at one with His creation.

Mary’s role in all this should open our hearts in such a love for Her that all this new year we should each day say, with Pope St.John Paul II: Totus Tuus – All Yours!   All Yours Mother!  All Yours Jesus through our Mother! … Yes! God’s Mother and ours too!  How could we be otherwise than all Hers? God is goodness, Mary is the Mother of goodness. God is Mercy, Mary is the Mother of Mercy. God is Grace Itself, Mary is the Mother of Grace and Mediatrix of all graces. God is Life, Mary is the Mother of Life. God is our Hope, Mary is the Mother of Hope.

As the Spiritual Children of the Seraphic Father of Assisi let us live this new year in the peace and joy of those who know God is with us.  Our Father St. Francis and our Holy Mother St.Clare  abandoned themselves unreservedly to God’s Will and Word, in an overwhelming peace and joy. Let God’s Word be our guide and His Eucharist, the Incarnate Word in Sacrament, be our Viaticum through life. Jesus, born in the “House of Bread” is our “Bread for the journey” (“viaticum”). Open to God’s Incarnate Word and His life-giving words let us be open to one another in a bond of love and truth that strengthens the unity of our Franciscan Family throughout our region, nation and throughout the world. As we live in the Word and seek to live His words, may we witness a hope that the world seems to be losing.

Some people wait for Friday to ‘step down from the merry-go-round’ of their work-week. Others look forward to Mondays filled with new opportunities and challenges that help them discover the talents and strengths God gives to meet the ‘gifts’ of a new week.  May we all look forward to a New Year of Grace, in which God offers us the occasion to ’unwrap’ the wonderful gifts He entrusts to us that we might grow in grace and be His instruments of Peace and Blessings to all throughout the year and throughout our lives. Having begun the New Year with Mary and in Jesus’ Name, let us let our Mother’s example of silent trust and anticipation of the ‘unraveling’ of God’s will, and the Most Holy Name of Jesus, before Whom heaven, and earth, and those under the earth bend the knee (Philippians 2:10), be our standard and strong support. In His Name is the Father’s Love and the Spirit’s power. In His Name we find peace. He is Peace and Salvation!

JESUS, OUR PEACE, DOES NOT DISAPPOINT ANYONE WHO PLACES THEIR TRUST IN HIM.  LORD, THIS YEAR AND ALWAYS, WE PLACE OUR TRUST IN YOU! May the Peace, Joy, Blessings … and Love of this Season fill your hearts and those of your loved ones. May God bless you; Our Lady Whose Divine Motherhood begins the new calendar year, and her beloved spouse St. Joseph, whose special Holy Year we celebrate, guide, guard, and protect you and your families.

 

Daily Meditations – December 2020 – by Father Francis Sariego, OFM Cap.

December 2020 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Amen. 

(Saint Francis of Assisi)

 

Following are excerpts taken from The Legend of the Three Companions 

 

Chapter XI 

THE RECEPTION OF FOUR OTHER BROTHERS 

AND THE MOST BURNING CHARITY THEY HAD FOR EACH OF THE FIRST BROTHERS, 

OF THEIR EAGERNESS IN WORKING AND PRAYING AND THEIR PERFECT OBEDIENCE 

 1

People then saw that the brothers rejoiced in their tribulations, persisted in prayer with eagerness and devotion, neither accepted nor carried money, and possessed a great love for one another; and through this they were known to be really the Lord’s disciples. – Don’t lose heart. Jesus is always at your side.

2

Many came to them with heartfelt sorrow, asking pardon for the offenses they had committed against them. They forgave them from their hearts, saying: “May the Lord forgive you,” and encouraged them soundly about their eternal salvation. –Jesus is with you, and where He is, the kingdom of God is found. 

3

Some asked those brothers to receive them into their company. And because of the small number of the brothers—all six of them possessed authority from blessed Francis to receive others into the Order—they accepted some of them into their company. – Our faith will avail us nothing if our actions do not bear it out.

4

After they were received, they all returned at a predetermined time to Saint Mary of the Portiuncula. When they saw one another again, however, they were filled with such delight and joy, as if they didn’t remember anything of what they had endured at the hands of the wicked. May God’s will be done!  – The Lord arranges all for His greater glory. I fix my gaze on the One who moves me and who is the source of wisdom. 

5

Each day they were conscientious in prayer and working with their hands to avoid all idleness, the enemy of the soul. The soul’s cooperation with divine grace is all that is required to enable it to develop. – God in His infinite wisdom has placed in our hands all the necessary means for the embellishment of our souls. 

6

They rose conscientiously in the middle of the night, and prayed most devoutly with copious tears and sighs. They loved each other deeply, served one another, and took care of each other as a mother for an only and beloved child. – It is the duty of each Christian to seek the things of heaven and not to care about the things of this earth.

7

Charity burned so ardently in them that it seemed easy for them to give their bodies to death, not only for the love of Christ, but also for the salvation of the soul or the body of their confreres. – Aspire continually to the home of the blessed and consider (yourself) as a pilgrim in this land of exile. 

8

Each day they were conscientious in prayer and working with their hands to avoid all idleness, the enemy of the soul. They rose conscientiously in the middle of the night, and prayed most devoutly with copious tears and sighs. – The true Christian who follows his vocation directs all his attention to securing eternal possession.

9

One day, when two of the brothers were walking along, they came across a simpleton who began to throw rocks at them. One of them, noticing that stones were being thrown at the other, ran directly in front of him, preferring that the stones strike him rather than his brother. – Be like children. They are only strong enough when they are with their parents. Do the same and you will be at peace. 

10

Because of the mutual charity with which they burned, they were prepared to lay down their life in this way, one for the other. – Look on the things of this world as to esteem and appreciate only those which help to obtain eternal things.

11

They were so rooted and grounded in humility and love, that one respected the other as father and master, while those who excelled by way of the office of prelate or some grace, seemed humble and more self-effacing than the others. – Despise all things which do not help to obtain what is eternal. 

12

They all dedicated themselves wholeheartedly to obedience, ever prepared for the will of the one giving orders. – Those who live according to the spirit of Jesus will not always remain hidden and unknown. 

13

They did not distinguish between a just and an unjust command because they considered whatever they were ordered to be the Lord’s will. – The good Christian must beware of those vices which offend our neighbor by interior acts or by his speech. 

14

Fulfilling commands, therefore, was pleasant and easy for them. They abstained from carnal desires, judging themselves carefully and taking care that in no way would one offend the other. – We Christians are therefore images of God twice over, by nature and by grace. 

15

If it ever happened that one uttered an annoying word to another, his conscience troubled him, so much so that he could not rest until he admitted his fault. – Sanctifying grace impresses the image of God that we ourselves become divine by participation. 

16

He would humbly prostrate himself on the ground, so that his brother would place his foot over his mouth. – Christian perfection consists in this alone: love which binds all together in perfect harmony 

17

If the brother who was offended refused to do this, then the brother who offended him, if he were a prelate, would order him to. – Charity is the virtue that makes us all children of the one Father who is in heaven.

18

If he were a subject, he would have a prelate give the order. In this way, with the grace of Jesus Christ anticipating and helping them, they strove to banish all ill will and malice from their midst, to preserve among them always perfect love, and, to combat, as far as possible, each vice by practicing a corresponding virtue. – Let us love and practice charity, as this is our divine Master’s precept In our love for charity, we must flee from even the shadow of anything that might dim its splendor. 

19

Moreover, they did not appropriate anything as their own, but used books or other items in common according to the pattern handed down and observed by the apostles. – We are all members of Jesus Christ who is the head of us all, the members of the body. 

20

Although there was real poverty in and among them, they were generous and openhanded with everything given them for God’s sake. The alms freely given to them out of His love, they gave to all those who begged from them, especially to the poor.

21

In fact, if they were traveling along the road and found the poor begging from them for the love of God, when they had nothing to offer them, they would give them some of their clothing even though it was shabby. – If we keep our love for one another, the beautiful peace of Jesus will invariably triumph in our hearts 

22

Sometimes they gave their capuche, tearing it from the tunic; at other times they gave a sleeve, or tore off a part of their habit, that they might fulfill that Gospel passage “Give to all who beg from you.” – If the Christian is full of God’s law he will never fail, no matter what adversities may befall him. 

23

One day, however, a poor man begging alms came to the church of Saint Mary of the Portiuncula, near where the brothers sometimes stayed. There was a cloak there that a brother wore while in the world. – The Christian who is striving for perfection will understand how very necessary meditation is.

24

When blessed Francis told him to give it to that poor man, he gave it to him freely and quickly. – Place the outcome of your desires in the hands of divine providence, and abandon yourself in God’s arms like a child. 

25

And immediately, because of the reverence and devotion which that brother had in giving the cloak to the poor man, it seemed to him that the alms rose up into heaven and he felt himself inundated by a new happiness. – Get rid of all doubt and anxiety.

26

When, in fact, the rich of this world would go out of their way for them, they received them quickly and kindly, striving to call them from evil and prompting them to do penance. – If the Christian is full of God’s law which warns and teaches him, he will never fail no matter what adversities may befall him.

27

They also eagerly sought not to be sent to the lands where they had been raised, that they might avoid association and dealings with their relatives and could observe the prophetic word: “I have become an outcast to my brothers, a stranger to my mother’s sons.” – Readily forgive offenses and give thanks to God for all things.

28

They rejoiced most in poverty, because they did not desire riches, but spurned everything transitory that can be desired by those enamored of this world. – Do not fail to turn to God’s goodness with every confidence.

29

Above all, they trampled upon money as if it were dirt under their feet, and, as they had been taught by the saint, considered it as equal in worth and weight to the dung of an ass. – The purpose of God taking on the condition of a child is to provoke our loving Him with confidence, and to lovingly confide in Him.

30

They constantly rejoiced in the Lord, not having within themselves nor among themselves anything that could make them sad. – Stay very close to the crib of this most beautiful child. Have a great love for this heavenly child.

31

The more they were separated from the world, the more they were united to God. As they advanced on the way of the cross and the paths of justice, they cleared all hindrances from the narrow path of penance and of the observance of the Gospel, that they might make a smooth and safe path for the future.- May Jesus comfort and bless you!

 

Blessed and Joyous Christmas to All 

May the Infant Jesus, with Our Blessed Mother and Good St. Joseph 

Bless your Families and Homes. 

Peace in serenity, Joy in gratitude, 

Love in God Who became and remains One with Us 

At all times and  

Throughout the New Year 2021 

 

December 2020 Monthly Meditation by Father Francis Sariego, OFM Cap.

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 2020

Dear Sisters and Brothers in St. Francis,

May the Infant Jesus grant your heart the Peace you desire.

May His Star enlighten your mind with the splendor of His Truth.

May His Love consume your heart so that it beats solely for Him.

Greccio revisited – Bethlehem revisited.

The various Nativity Scenes that can be seen at this time is a “show and tell” for the childlike. Like children we see the images and try to imagine what it must have been like the night Jesus was born in Bethlehem. Human beings have intellects to understand and the senses to enhance and personalize the experience. St. Francis was quite aware of this and his innovative, creative, and definitely quite expressive personality put all these qualities of his nature to excellent use, the effects of which have lasted over eight centuries.

St. Francis of Assisi was a good “businessman”. His father Pietro was a good teacher for the son he hoped would take over the cloth business.  Pietro was a self-made man who had risen to the heights of a comfortable and wealthy middle class. His cloth business flourished and Francis was his right hand person to continue the business. Francis Bernardone’s passionate character and captivating personality knew how to lead others to look at things with their  eyes and see with their heart. This ability to see into the depths made Greccio, because of Francis’ unique manner, an experience that has been repeated in large and small ways for over eight centuries.

At Greccio, St. Francis presented an image to the eyes that would penetrate the depth of people’s hearts. He not only believed but felt the truth of the birth of Christ and Who He is.  He wanted others to experience as much as possible all that Jesus accepted when he became a human being. St. Francis’ simplicity and desire for ‘concreteness’ in touching with his senses the great Mystery of the Incarnation gave rise eventually to the tradition of the Nativity Scenes most Christian Families display during the Christmas Season.  The son of Pietro was not presenting a “product” to be bought but a truth to be remembered and lived. The Poverello was not trying to be innovative. He was not attempting to present something strange that would attract the curiosity of people. Francis was “revisiting” Bethlehem by creating an image of it at Greccio so that the Birth of Jesus might come alive once again in the hearts and lives of the people.  He sought to rekindle the spark of the Spirit’s fire and enthusiasm in the faithful. Through the senses, St. Francis sought to arrive more incisively to the very soul of each person.

The Holy Father accepted the idea to have a living manger scene set up there on the mountain. Permission was even granted for an outdoor midnight Mass at the site with St. Francis officiating as deacon. (Francis sure knew how to get his point across! What a businessman, even as a friar!  He even got the Pope to “see it his way”!)  At Greccio that Christmas Night people went back in mind and heart to Bethlehem. They were there! That night was unforgettable. They felt like children filled with joy, wonder, excitement, happiness. Afterward, they shared their joy with all they met. Why? They experienced in their hearts the reality of the prophecy made centuries before: For to us a child is born, to us a son is given … And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9: 6).

That night the world seemed to stop for them.  Time was transported back twelve hundred years, and hearts were catapulted into thoughts of a loving God Who stopped at nothing to capture the attention of His children. The words St. Francis spoke and the Gospel he sang as Deacon at the Mass celebrated at Greccio came from a heart in love with God. That night, Love was contagious.  If only it could have remained that way forever!  To stay there would have been selfish. We must bring the joy we know and radiate it to others. With Mary, our Blessed Mother, Virgin Made Church, Francis offered his own ‘yes’ that the Real Presence of the Eucharist, and the represented presence of the Incarnation-Birth of Jesus at Bethlehem in Greccio, would become ingrained in the hearts of all. Prayerfully praising the tremendous gift of the Eucharist, our Seraphic Father simply and magnificently offers a meditation on the wonderful exchange of the humanity and the divinity in Jesus, awesomely present in the Most Blessed Sacrament of the Altar.  The “sacramental Incarnation of Jesus” is a re-presentation of what began at Bethlehem. Francis’ prayer merits to be repeated this year as well as other times:

O admirable heights and sublime lowliness! 

O sublime humility! O humble sublimity! 

That the Lord of the universe, 

God and the Son of God, 

so humbles Himself 

that for our salvation 

He hides Himself 

under the little form of bread! 

Look, brothers, at the humility of God 

and pour out your hearts before Him! 

Humble yourselves, as well, 

that you may be exalted by Him. 

Therefore, hold back nothing of yourselves for yourselves 

so that He Who gives Himself totally to you 

may receive you totally.

Christmas is a time for us to think of the Christ Child, God’s Gift of Himself to us as gift, and remember the child that we once were and are called to become in the spirit. What we become then is our response and gift to God. Our Seraphic Father “let love let loose”,  just as David did when he danced with abandon before the Ark and before 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. Francis: As 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)

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). This is the dream God placed in the hearts of Israel through the words of His prophet. The wait was centuries-long. When the long-expected One finally arrived, tepidity and indifference ruled over what should have been excitement and joy. Few knew about this greatest event connected to the creation of the world and leading to the restoration of all things through the “Almighty Humble” One Born in the poverty of Bethlehem. Born in the town of Beth-lehem (house of bread), Jesus came to be the Living Bread come down from heaven (John 6: 51) So that everyone who believes in Him may not perish, but may have everlasting life (John 3: 15). He came to His own, but His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Himto them He gave the right to become children of God(John 1: 11-12).

Life begins as the quest of the child for the man, and ends as the quest of the man for the child (Sam Ewing).  This child is 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; 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 – Jesus.

Our journey with and through the pandemic that is devastating the entire world may affect the way we hear the wonderful words the angels spoke to the shepherds, I bring you good news of great joy, today is born for you a Savior  (Luke 2: 10-11). These words of hope may have lost their joyful and encouraging effect these past months. They may seem like hopeful illusions offered to clear the darkness of uncertainty and fear. We cannot let our hearts be overwhelmed by all this. 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 (John 3: 16). Who (or what) can separate us from the love of God…In Him we are more than conquerors (Romans 8: 35-39).

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 that Father. Jesus, incarnate in our human nature, reminds us that God is not ashamed of us. He was willing to be like us in all things but sin (cfr. Hebrews 4: 15).

We make God’s 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 – angels (the word means messenger) – of the Eternal Love that not even the worst human tragedy can destroy.  Goodness is still alive in the hearts of God’s children.  This love is celebrated each year at Christmas when Love Eternal made Himself visible by becoming one with us. He shared the journey of life from His wooden Crib to the wood of the Cross to manifest the depths of His Love. The Crib and the Cross are inseparable!

For the spirit of this season of love, life, and light to take hold of us we are asked to discover once again the child within us.  That inner child, covered and hidden over the years by compromising values, cautious in acceptance rather than trusting in God’s will, confused rather than believing in eternal truths, and all around careless regarding the sacredness of every moment of life, seeks to be reborn into the wonder and joy of living in the light of God’s extravagant love.

Christmas is a time for us to look with the childlike eyes of wonder, curiosity, excitement, enthusiasm, anticipation, inquisitiveness, joy, in a word, “love”. We represent each year – and everyday if we so desire – the mystery fulfilled for us to celebrate 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 rekindled and lightened by the One Whose birth we celebrate in time as we await His return in glory. The Lord hidden in His Word and Sacrament is made visible in so many ways in the sisters and brothers we encounter on our journey. The child within comes forth and we experience the newness and joy of life.

Centuries, and probably eons, lay before humanity. Each day is a new experience of that eternal unfolding of God’s plan for creation. This “plan” was prepared for by the prophets, made visible at Bethlehem and Calvary, and will continue until time becomes eternal truth and 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.  Our Faith is strengthened, our hope renewed, and our hearts filled with childlike wonder and joy in Christ, that not even the present global pandemic and its manifold consequences on the world can destroy because: Greater is the One with and within us, than what surrounds us (cfr.1 John 1: 5).   

We begin a renewed journey with Christ as we celebrate his birth.  Life is our journey. We set out in the zest and vigor of childhood and youth. We are challenged and make our mark in life 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. Our journey finds meaning even through the anomalies and heartbreaks because of the One Who loves us.  His birth in the wooden stable at Bethlehem that led to his total surrender for us on the rough wood of the Cross on Calvary made His life the reason for our being. Because of Him and His journey with us, we start each new day confident that all things work together for the good of those who love God and are loved by Him. We begin to understand the simplicity of the reason and the means that prompted (to use human expressions) God to be born a human being

My prayer for all of you is for Peace, Joy, Love and the Fulfillment of your heart’s desires in the Lord at this Christmas Season.  May the Child of Bethlehem help us all find the child within, that we may joyfully celebrate the birth of the One Who is our Light and Salvation. Let us bring light, joy and hope to all whom we meet on our journey. Let us be and bring Jesus to others.

Have a Happy and Blessed Christmas, and a New Year 2021 filled with Love, Life, Happiness, Good Humor, Health and an ever-growing Longing for God

Peace and Blessings!

Fr. Francis A. Sariego, OFM Cap

Regional Spiritual Assistant

State of the Region – 2019 – 2020 Kate Kleinert, OFS, Regional Minister

State of the Region

St. Katharine Drexel Region

2019 – 2020

It’s tough to report on a year that has been plagued by the pandemic.  I don’t even remember now if January and February were bad weather months and perhaps some fraternities didn’t meet because of weather. Then March hit and some were able to meet before everything closed up.

Living with this life-altering virus, I tried very hard to keep us together as much as possible.  In the beginning of the shut down we met by conference call to say the rosary and then to do Stations of the Cross.   We had a ministers’ meeting and encouraged the ministers to have the Council split up the members’ list for a phone check in.

When it started looking like this wasn’t going to end in a few weeks, we learned how to Zoom.  Life as we knew it just wasn’t there any more.   With the warmer weather, some of us were able to meet outside and even a few professions happened under the new regulations.

There have been no visitations and no elections so if and when this pandemic runs its course, I’m going to be very far behind.  But at least the prayer requests and Regional news continued to flow. And with that segue, let me report on our conversation at the National Chapter.  There has been no contingency plan discussed or implemented to conduct visitations or elections virtually. So for the foreseeable future, things will remain status quo.    As I announced several months ago, if there is anyone on a Council position who feels they cannot stay in their position until this pandemic is resolved, please speak up.  If you feel uncomfortable going to your Minister, please reach out to me.  We will make this work to everyone’s comfort.

After the meeting today, I will be sending out a flyer for a Christmas gathering…by Zoom.  It is scheduled for Sunday, December 20 – the Sunday before Christmas. No matter what happens between now and Christmas, no one…..no one is going to have a holiday like he or she is used to.  We have a lot of elderly in our Region.  Lots of them will be waking up Christmas morning with no plans. So I’m inviting everyone in the Region to a family gathering again on December 20.  We will have prayer, of course, hear the Love Story of Mary and Joseph, talk about Christmas Traditions and a few things to liven up the day.  Getting together like this helps to keep us connected!

A little over a year ago we were celebrating our 25 anniversary. It’s a good thing we all got together then, because who knew what was coming in 2020?? Jeff and Teresa Redder just attended the Mass they had said for the Region in honor or it’s year of celebration.  Thanks Jeff and Teresa!

Last Spring, I received a message from Father Ramundo Cabrera, OFM, the pastor of St. Paul’s parish in the heart of Wilmington.  He had a group of 18 Hispanic folks who want to become Secular Franciscans.  Father had been working with them for 2 years and I mean meeting at least twice a week.  Unfortunately, the friars were leaving the parish and Father wanted to make sure this group didn’t fall through the cracks.  Also unfortunately, COVID stepped in and has made it very difficult to meet with them and move forward. The goal is to help them form their own Spanish speaking fraternity.  I’ve been there to meet with them on a few occasions and they are a wonderful, spirit filled group of people.

Speaking of the (dreaded) Annual Report, I received mine from National yesterday.  I have NOT had any time to read it; however, I understand the focus this year is on how we all have coped with COVID and kept going. So, you can’t just copy over last year’s answers and use them this year!  The drop dead date to have your Annual Report back to me is February 1, 2021. And by drop dead date, I mean that is when I will drop dead if you don’t have it back to me!  So once I recover from this meeting, I will take a look at what information I have to report on to National and will adjust our Regional report form accordingly. And while we are on that subject, the Fair Share remains the same for this year.  We need to pay National just like any other year.  I do realize that fraternities haven’t been meeting, funds have not been collected.  Before it gets any closer to Christmas, see if you can get your members to mail in their Fair Share and be sure you provide the name and address of your treasurer in your e-mail.  But be prepared for people to call you anyway and say “What is that address I’m supposed to mail this to?”  I am speaking from several years of experience!

Also, as in any other year, you will be able to pay Fair Share in installments and if you just cannot make the amount, call me. Some fraternities who are in better shape financially will sometimes add some to their Fair Share to help out a fraternity that can’t pay.

And this is the year we were warned about last year!  The number of active people reported on the Regional Annual Report must match what is in the National database.  We will owe the difference to National.  I have already received a notice that there are 42 more people in the database than were reported last year. It is my next big task.  Ministers, when I send you your sheet from the database, please look over it carefully and get back to me with corrections as quickly as you can.

One of the things I struggle with every year on the Regional report to National is the subject of Youth and Young Adults.  I’m getting farther away from that category by the minute!  Amanda Jamnicky, Minister of Immaculate Conception fraternity, and I attend an 11 week Youth and Young Adult workshop.  Every Monday night for 11 weeks, we were on Zoom going through some training.  As Regional Minister, I know its my job to oversee some kind of action in this department.  I will tell you honestly, it’s not my bag. And I’m being honest.  I do not feel called in any way to get involved with the younger folks.  Maybe it’s because I never had children, but what I want to say is, if you feel called to this ministry, please let me know.  The Youth and Young Adult Commission is a wonderful group and would be very happy to work with you. So let me know if you are interested.

In the last issue of TAU USA magazine, our very own St. Francis, Long Beach Island was featured for their work on ReClaming the Beach.  I haven’t received my copy yet but I’m sure it shines a great light on the work these folks are doing.  Bravo, LBI!

The Padre Pio fraternity is featured this week in the Catholic Philly.com’s latest issue. Look under Local news.  It highlights the Transitus procession that included the OFM Caps who live in that area and members of the local fraternities.  It’s invaluable to receive such positive press on both these fraternities’ efforts.

There was no solution given for having National elections – scheduled for October of 2021 or Regional elections.  In our case, the Region is due in March of 2022.  I’m sure you all have read the messages I have sent out about our National Minister, Jan Parker, and her present fight against endometrial cancer.  Jan announced at our National Chapter that she will not be running in the next National elections.  Our elections are a year and a quarter away, but its time to start thinking about who you might nominate for Regional positions – and don’t forget you may nominate yourself if you feel so called.

One of the things I reported on last year was that I intended to hold a Council Position workshop in at least three areas of the Region during this past year.  Like everyone’s plans, that one didn’t materialize.  One thing I have learned about the COVID virus and the fallout from it is this,….. it isn’t going away any time soon,  It will be at least another year before we are back in our usual places with bright shiny faces. So the solution for me is make friends with the situation.  The longer I rail against it, the longer things are not getting accomplished.  I intend to start crafting the workshops but to do them by position and of course by Zoom.  In other words, all of the Ministers would be invited to one and would be open to anyone who would like to be a Minister.  We would talk about the responsibilities, the reports that are needed, the things that are required and of course, the problems and pitfalls.  My hope is to have a quick reference booklet for each position.  The same process would be done for each of the Council positions.  It’s a big undertaking but one that is long overdue and more than needed. So – any Council members out there who would like to help in the planning of the workshop for your position, please be in touch.  It would be great if you maybe sent some questions about your position so that they can be included.

We will be due for Visitation from National next May.  I don’t know if that will be done or not. But its time to start preparing as if it will happen.

Our initiative to send cards to those celebrating a milestone anniversary of their profession has been very well received!  In addition to the anniversary cards, our Regional Infirmarian, Ted Bienkowski, OFS, has done an outstanding job in sending condolences to the families when one of our members passes and also sending our love and prayers to a brother or sister who is dealing with a very serious injury or illness.

I have gotten a great deal of support while I have been Regional Minister and just as much or more criticism.  It comes with the job.  But I will tell you this, good or bad, I try my darndest to keep the Region united as a family.  I don’t always succeed.  I have made my contact information known to one and all and invited any of you to call me or send a message if you have a question or complaint.  That sentiment continues as we will be entering the final year of this term.  I believe that the term Regional Minister really means head servant.  I’m here for all of you not just the Regional Council and not just Ministers.   When I was a candidate – and it wasn’t while I was at St. Francis in Springfield – I had a problem and wanted to contact the Regional Minister and was told “She doesn’t have time for you! You can’t call her:”  Now if you are trying to figure out who was Regional Minister at that time, let me say this……….. she had no idea that I wanted to speak with her. So none of this is any reflection on her.  But I decided then and there if I ever was in any kind of position in this Order, I would make time for anyone at any level who wanted and/or needed to talk to me.

 

So, I think I have covered what went on in the last year and what I hope to do in the coming year but I’m sure there are things that I missed that you want to talk about or question.  So…………. If you have a question, please feel free to send it to me.

 

Kate Kleinert, OFS

Regional Minister

 

 

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

November 2020

Most High, all-powerful, good Lord, 

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

To you alone, Most High, do they belong, 

and no human is worthy to mention Your name. 

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

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

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

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

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

from whom no one living can escape. 

Woe to those who die in mortal sin. 

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

for the second death shall do them no harm. 

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

Amen. 

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

 

Following are excerpts taken from The Legend of the Three Companions 

 

Chapter X 

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

ON THEIR JOURNEYS THROUGHOUT THE WORLD EXHORTING THEM TO PENANCE 

1

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

2

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

3

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

4

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

5

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

6

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

7

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

8

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

9

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

10

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

11

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

12

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

13

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

14

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

15

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

16

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

17

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

18

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

19

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

20

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

21

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

22

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

23

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

24

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

25

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

26

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

27

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

 

Chapter XI 

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

FOR EACH OF THE FIRST BROTHERS, 

OF THEIR EAGERNESS IN WORKING AND PRAYING AND THEIR PERFECT OBEDIENCE 

28

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

29

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

30

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

 

 

 

 

Father Francis Reflections for November, 2020

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

November 2020

Dear Sisters and Brothers in St. Francis,

The Lord give you peace!

Today me, tomorrow you. (This is a loose translation of the Latin inscription: Hodie mihi, cras tibi). The saying can often be seen sculpted or painted at the entrances of many cemeteries in Europe. It is a rather stark and macabre reminder that earthly life, as long as it might be, will eventually experience its transforming moment. The point of convergence of all life’s experiences – good, bad, and indifferent – will come together awaiting our call to timelessness. Death calls and eternity awaits. It is not the end of everything, as too many people feel and believe. It is the moment of the ultimate transformation into the eternal destiny we have worked all our lives in becoming, hopefully in God’s grace and will.

Every year the Church celebrates November as the month dedicated to the Holy Souls in Purgatory. These souls await  transformation by God’s love and mercy. The Church asks us to pray for those who have gone before us into eternity and who still await the fullness of Life. The Church also reminds us that we ought to pray for ourselves who, still on journey, are subject to many challenges that can either threaten or strengthen our resolve to be faithful to the Gospel and live in the light of Eternal Life. The journey of life is so wonderful because of the many challenges God offers us to grow in His love. Nevertheless, it is also very dangerous because of the many allurements and seductions that can entice us to deviate from the path marked out for us. Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. If we follow His Way, listen to His Word of Truth, we can expect ultimately to share in the fullness of His Life. He Himself says: I came that they may have Life and have it in abundance (John 10: 10).

Jesus gained that Life for us, once for all, on the Cross of Calvary. Life and the Cross! There it is again! The Paradox of the Cross! The Paradox of Christianity! We are always facing these choices, these opposites: positive-negative, good-bad, light-darkness, grace-sin, heaven-hell. We always have that responsible and awesome option placed before us. Adam and Eve were offered a choice as a requisite to continue living in Eden. In the Old Testament, before the People of Israel entered the Promised Land, Joshua read the Law of the Covenant God made with His People and told them to choose between life and death…I for my part will serve the Lord  (Deuteronomy 30: 19). The people responded in unison that they would serve the Lord.  However, history for them, and also for us who have opted to follow Jesus, tells us how fickle our word and commitments can be. Perhaps this is why we have difficulty in reflecting on that most solemn moment in life when we are called to encounter the Source of all Life and see ourselves in His Light.

Our Christian Faith as Catholics is nourished by the Sacramental Life of the Church, redeemed in the Blood of Christ, Who constantly challenges us to follow me (Matthew 16: 24, and other verses). In this life of faith we are always speaking of positive values while focusing in on what at first glance seems ‘negative’. We speak about Life, but refer to it through the Death of Jesus. We speak about Love, but recognize it through the symbol of hatred, torture, and death, The Cross. We hope in Heaven, but experience its beginnings through the challenges and pitfalls of life’s earthly journey. Our humanity, so prone to the changing attitudes of nature, has learned how to ‘see’ beyond the barriers that daily seek to impede our forward steps. It is with a faith-filled heart and a hope-filled life that we can securely live life to the fullest, seeing every moment and experience as another opportunity to Live Life and Love It.

Our Seraphic Father Saint Francis of Assisi was a unique and inspired prophet for all times. His approach to life and all creation has earned for him the title of Universal Brother. He instilled in the hearts of his spiritual children an attitude of joy and gratitude for every facet of life. He was a man imbued with a spirit of childlike wonder that made him rejoice even during the most challenging times of his own life. Several years before his brief life ended – he died at 44 years of age – his body began to succumb to all the effects of the penances he had imposed upon himself. He even apologized to ‘Brother Ass’, as he called his body, for treating one who was so faithful to him in such an unappreciative manner. With the knowledge of his terminal condition and the pains of the Stigmata of Jesus he had received two years before, informed that he was soon to pass from this life to the next, he asked that a new stanza be added to the Canticle of the Creatures, and that it be sung for him. Praise be You, my Lord, for 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. When he was told that Death was imminent, he called out Welcome, Sister Death! When we see life as the gift it is, and live life and love it, then even death cannot disturb our inner joy and serenity. Only then are we able to live each moment as a gift and know how to ‘let go’.

Centuries before the birth of Jesus, the faith of Israel was severely tested. Conquering armies and foreign rule were the fate of the Children of Abraham. Among the many restrictions, the most difficult was that of the prohibition for Israel to practice the faith of their ancestors. All the people were required, under penalty of death, to practice the religion of the conquering government. The Law of Moses was proscribed. Needless to say, many faithful Jews refused and were savagely tortured and executed. Among these was a mother and her seven sons. The testimony she gives, immortalized by the sacred writer, merits our reflection. All her sons were brought before the king and required to apostatize. Each refused, and, one by one, each son was cruelly tortured and killed before the eyes of the remaining brothers and their mother. Finally, the last son, young and full of life, with a promising future before him and gifts promised by the king should he accept the new religion, came forth. The mother leaned over and spoke to her son: Son, have pity on me, who carried you in my womb for nine months … look to the heavens and the earth and see all that is in them; then you will know that God did not make them out of existing things; and in the same way the human race came into existence. Do not be afraid of this executioner, but be worthy of your brothers and accept death, so that in the time of mercy I may receive you again with them (2 Maccabees 7: 1-31).  The young boy refused the king’s offers and rebuked him for his arrogance toward the God of Israel. In the course of the comment the young boy made before being more cruelly treated than the others, he said: My brothers, after enduring brief pain, have drunk of never-failing life, under God’s covenan (cfr. 2 Maccabees, 7).  He loved life so much that he would not compromise its fullness offered him by his Creator. Again we see how living life fully, at whatever stage and age we are, makes death not the frightening ‘reaper of doom’, but the ‘Doorway to Life’. Two questions for us to pose to ourselves could be: For Whom (or what) do I live? and For Whom (or what) am I willing to die?

The words of the mother of the seven brothers to the youngest are quite revealing. Already several centuries before the birth of the Messiah, the Spirit of God had instilled in the hearts of many of His People the awareness that all life is destined to live forever. Because of God’s Eternal Love, and our encounter with the Incarnate Word of God, Jesus, we have come to know and believe that we share in His very Life. The indwelling of the Holy Spirit through grace in those who live in God’s Will opens the heart to see God in all things and to recognize the reality of heaven as the Father’s gift to His children. Yet, the process to achieve ‘perfection’ travels through many and varied experiences. The experiences of life teach us many things. They speak to us about God, ourselves, others, the world in which we live, the universe around us … and the Life that awaits us all. How we will enter that Life is determined by the decisions we make during our journey on earth. Death ushers us into eternity.

Death is a terrible word for many people. They avoid even saying it for fear it might ‘catch up to them’ sooner than expected. In fact some people lead a non-stop life of “things to do” just to “outrun” the inevitable, when “it’s time”. It always seems unexpected when Death finally does come to call us home. Notice how, when we hear of the death of someone, often people will ask How old were they? As though age had anything to do with it! Death is the natural conclusion of time as a definitive entrance into the marvelous immensity of eternity. Fear of it is the result of humanity’s disobedience in Eden. The passage from time to eternity – in whatever way God would have accomplished it had not Original Sin happened – would still have occurred, but in loving anticipation and yearning, rather than fear and trembling, or at the least, sadness. Sin causes fear and uncertainty regarding our moral strengths. To this, all I say is: Trust God’s Word! God loves you! Believe in God’s love! Love Him back by living in God’s Most Holy Will!

As Spiritual Children of the Poverello of Assisi, how do we live our lives? What is our attitude to the challenges God permits that remind us of our vulnerability and mortality? Do we live in the spirit of the letter to the Hebrews that states: ‘We do not have here a permanent dwelling, but we await another (Hebrews 3: 14)? Do we take time to reflect on death as one more step, the ultimate, in getting us to God? Do we avoid even thinking of the Paschal Mystery that each one will be called to celebrate in his or her personal life? Are we joy-filled in life and encourage others to be so, even in the midst of difficulties?  Do we see Christ in the other or are we willfully “blind” to His presence? Do we consider that when we are able yet refuse to see Christ in the time we share with all humanity, we risk not seeing Him for eternity! Are we one of those who fall into that amusing, but true saying: ‘Everyone talks about heaven, but no one seems to be in a hurry to get there’?  We each have questions specifically our own that we can add to this brief list. Ask them of yourself, reflect upon the question, and answer honestly to yourself. The answers might be a pleasant or shocking eye-opener. May we all “ace the test!”

Our Seraphic Father found direction in Jesus’ words in Scripture, strength in the Presence and grace of the Eucharist that accompanied and nourished his life’s journey, inspiration from the inner working of the Holy Spirit Whom he called the true Minister General of the Order, gentle yet powerful mother’s love from the Blessed Mother’s presence in his heart, reassurance and assistance from the Church in Her leadership, support and presence from the brotherhood, challenges to re-evaluate his motives and actions from those whom he encountered and to whom he ministered, and more.  All these, and so much more because he knew what he believed and lived what he believed. Faith is the foundation of hope. The two work together making life worth living because everything, accepted and lived with gratitude, will lead to the fullness of all human hope – to live forever…in God.

If we live the spirit of our Spiritual Guide and Founder, life will be the wonderful experience God intended it to be for us all, and death will truly be that ‘Welcome Sister’ that leads us to the fullness of Life. Let’s pray for the Holy Souls this month, as they await the loving call to God’s eternal Presence in the fullness of Life in heaven. They were where we are, and we hope to be where they are. The Church Militant and the Church Suffering assist each other, so that together, in God’s Will and time, we may celebrate God’s Eternal Life in the Love of the Church Triumphant.

This month we also celebrate our national Day of Thanksgiving for all the blessings God bestows on us, regardless of religious affiliation. Let us be grateful to the Giver of all good gifts, for the gift of life. Let us be grateful for the Life we are being called to each day of our journey through time. As we celebrate the blessings of God to each one of us, let us strive to be a sign of God’s blessings to any and all whom we encounter.  Happy Thanksgiving to all of you and your loved ones! 

May God bless you. May Our Lady guide, guard, and protect you. May our Seraphic Father St. Francis of Assisi watch over each one of you, his Spiritual Children, with loving care.

 

Peace and Blessings

Fr. Francis A. Sariego, OFM Cap

Regional Spiritual Assistant

 

JPIC Newsletter – October 2020 – from the Regional JPIC Animator

October 2020-SKD JPIC Animator

October 2020 from the Regional Formation Director

SKD Formation Monthly-October 2020

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

October 2020

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

their one and only consolation, there is little comfort… 

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

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

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

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

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

Amen. 

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

Following are excerpts taken from The Legend of the Three Companions 

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

HE IMMEDIATELY CHANGED HIS EXTERNAL GARB 

AND PUT ON A NEW HABIT OF INTERNAL AND EXTERNAL PERFECTION 

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

2  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

10 

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

11 

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

12 

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

13 

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

14 

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

15 

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

16 

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

17 

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

18 

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

19 

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

20 

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

21 

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

 

Chpt. IX – THE VOCATION OF BROTHER SYLVESTER 

AND THE VISION HE HAD BEFORE ENTERING THE ORDER 

22 

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

23 

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

24 

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

25 

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

26 

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

27 

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

28 

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

29 

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

30 

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

31 

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