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

The Holy See

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pope Francis' Message for World Day of Migrants and Refugees 9/27/20

The Holy See
[27 September 2020]
Like Jesus Christ, forced to flee.
Welcoming, protecting, promoting and integrating
internally displaced persons

At the beginning of this year, in my Address to the members of the Diplomatic Corps accredited to
the Holy See, I pointed to the tragedy of internally displaced people as one of the challenges of
our contemporary world: “Situations of conflict and humanitarian emergencies, aggravated by
climate change, are increasing the numbers of displaced persons and affecting people already
living in a state of dire poverty. Many of the countries experiencing these situations lack adequate
structures for meeting the needs of the displaced” (9 January 2020).

The Migrants and Refugees Section of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development
has issued the document “Pastoral Orientations on Internally Displaced People” (Vatican City, 5
May 2020), which aims to inspire and encourage the pastoral work of the Church in this specific

For these reasons, I have decided to devote this Message to the drama of internally displaced
persons, an often unseen tragedy that the global crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has
only exacerbated. In fact, due to its virulence, severity and geographical extent, this crisis has
impacted on many other humanitarian emergencies that affect millions of people, which has
relegated to the bottom of national political agendas those urgent international efforts essential to
saving lives. But “this is not a time for forgetfulness. The crisis we are facing should not make us
forget the many other crises that bring suffering to so many people” (Urbi et Orbi Message, 12
April 2020).

In the light of the tragic events that have marked 2020, I would like this Message, although
concerned with internally displaced persons, to embrace all those who are experiencing situations
of precariousness, abandonment, marginalization and rejection as a result of COVID-19.

I would like to start with the image that inspired Pope Pius XII in his Apostolic Constitution Exsul
Familia (1 August 1952). During the flight into Egypt, the child Jesus experienced with his parents
the tragic fate of the displaced and refugees, “which is marked by fear, uncertainty and unease (cf.
Mt 2:13-15, 19-23). Unfortunately, in our own times, millions of families can identify with this sad
reality. Almost every day the television and papers carry news of refugees fleeing from hunger,
war and other grave dangers, in search of security and a dignified life for themselves and for their
families” (Angelus, 29 December 2013). In each of these people, forced to flee to safety, Jesus is
present as he was at the time of Herod. In the faces of the hungry, the thirsty, the naked, the sick,
strangers and prisoners, we are called to see the face of Christ who pleads with us to help (cf. Mt
25:31-46). If we can recognize him in those faces, we will be the ones to thank him for having
been able to meet, love and serve him in them.

Displaced people offer us this opportunity to meet the Lord, “even though our eyes find it hard to
recognize him: his clothing in tatters, his feet dirty, his face disfigured, his body wounded, his
tongue unable to speak our language” (Homily, 15 February 2019). We are called to respond to
this pastoral challenge with the four verbs I indicated in my Message for this Day in 2018:
welcome, protect, promote and integrate. To these words, I would now like to add another six pairs
of verbs that deal with very practical actions and are linked together in a relationship of cause and

You have to know in order to understand. Knowledge is a necessary step towards understanding
others. Jesus himself tells us this in the account of the disciples on the road to Emmaus: “While
they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them, but their
eyes were kept from recognizing him” (Lk 24:15-16). When we talk about migrants and displaced
persons, all too often we stop at statistics. But it is not about statistics, it is about real people! If we
encounter them, we will get to know more about them. And knowing their stories, we will be able to
understand them. We will be able to understand, for example, that the precariousness that we
have come to experience as a result of this pandemic is a constant in the lives of displaced

It is necessary to be close in order to serve. It may seem obvious, yet often it is the contrary. “But
a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where the man was; and when he saw him, he had
compassion, and went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; then he set him
on his own beast and brought him to an inn, and took care of him” (Lk 10:33-34). Fears and
prejudices – all too many prejudices – keep us distant from others and often prevent us from
“becoming neighbours” to them and serving them with love. Drawing close to others often means
being willing to take risks, as so many doctors and nurses have taught us in recent months. This
readiness to draw near and serve goes beyond a mere sense of duty. Jesus gave us the greatest
example of this when he washed the feet of his disciples: he took off his cloak, knelt down and
dirtied his hands (cf. Jn 13:1-15).

In order to be reconciled, we need to listen. God himself taught us this by sending his Son into the
world. He wanted to listen to the plea of suffering humanity with human ears: “For God so loved
the world that he gave his only-begotten Son… that the world might be saved through him” (Jn
3:16-17). A love that reconciles and saves begins with listening. In today’s world, messages
multiply but the practice of listening is being lost. Yet it is only through humble and attentive
listening that we can truly be reconciled. In 2020, silence has reigned for weeks in our streets. A
dramatic and troubling silence, but one that has given us the opportunity to listen to the plea of the
vulnerable, the displaced and our seriously ill planet. Listening gives us an opportunity to be
reconciled with our neighbour, with all those who have been “discarded”, with ourselves and with
God, who never tires of offering us his mercy.

In order to grow, it is necessary to share. Sharing was an essential element of the first Christian
community: “Now the company of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said
that any of the things which he possessed was his own, but they had everything in common” (Acts
4:32). God did not want the resources of our planet to benefit only a few. This was not the Lord’s
will! We have to learn to share in order to grow together, leaving no one behind. The pandemic
has reminded us how we are all in the same boat. Realizing that we have the same concerns and
fears has shown us once more that no one can be saved alone. To grow truly, we must grow
together, sharing what we have, like the boy who offered Jesus five barley loaves and two fish…
yet they proved enough for five thousand people (cf. Jn 6:1-15)!

We need to be involved in order to promote. As Jesus was with the Samaritan woman (cf. Jn 4:1-
30). The Lord approaches her, listens to her, speaks to her heart, and then leads her to the truth
and makes her a herald of the Good News: “Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did! Can
this be the Christ?” (v. 29). Sometimes the impulse to serve others prevents us from seeing their
real riches. If we really want to promote those whom we assist, we must involve them and make
them agents in their own redemption. The pandemic has reminded us of how essential coresponsibility is, and that only with the contribution of everyone – even of those groups so often
underestimated – can we face this crisis. We must find “the courage to create spaces where
everyone can recognize that they are called, and to allow new forms of hospitality, fraternity and
solidarity” (Meditation in Saint Peter’s Square, 27 March 2020).

It is necessary to cooperate in order to build. That is what the Apostle Paul tells the community of
Corinth: “I appeal to you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree and
that there be no dissensions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same
judgement” (1 Cor 1:10). Building the Kingdom of God is a duty common to all Christians, and for
this reason it is necessary that we learn to cooperate, without yielding to the temptation to
jealousy, discord and division. In the present context it should be reiterated: “This is not a time for
self-centredness, because the challenge we are facing is shared by all, without distinguishing
between persons” (Urbi et Orbi Message, 12 April 2020). To preserve our common home and
make it conform more and more to God’s original plan, we must commit ourselves to ensuring
international cooperation, global solidarity and local commitment, leaving no one excluded.
I would like to conclude with a prayer suggested by the example of Saint Joseph at the time he
was forced to flee to Egypt to save the child Jesus.

Father, you entrusted to Saint Joseph what you held most precious: the child Jesus and his
Mother, in order to protect them from the dangers and threats of the wicked.

Grant that we may experience his protection and help. May he, who shared in the sufferings of
those who flee from the hatred of the powerful, console and protect all our brothers and sisters
driven by war, poverty and necessity to leave their homes and their lands to set out as refugees
for safer places.

Help them, through the intercession of Saint Joseph, to find the strength to persevere, give them
comfort in sorrows and courage amid their trials.
Grant to those who welcome them some of the tender love of this just and wise father, who loved
Jesus as a true son and sustained Mary at every step of the way.
May he, who earned his bread by the work of his hands, watch over those who have seen
everything in life taken away and obtain for them the dignity of a job and the serenity of a home.
We ask this through Jesus Christ, your Son, whom Saint Joseph saved by fleeing to Egypt, and
trusting in the intercession of the Virgin Mary, whom he loved as a faithful husband in accordance
with your will. Amen.
Rome, Saint John Lateran, 13 May 2020, Memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Fatima.
©Copyright – Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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

September 2020 


I bend my knee to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ 

so that, through the prayers and merits of the 

holy and glorious Virgin Mary, His Mother, 

and of our most blessed father Francis and of all the saints, 

the Lord Himself, Who has given a good beginning, 

may give increase and may also give final perseverance. 


(The Testament of St. Clare of Assisi)


Daily thoughts from The Sacred Exchange between Saint Francis and Lady Poverty 



Among the other outstanding and exceptional virtues which prepare in us an abode and a dwelling for God and which show an excellent and unencumbered path of going to and arriving before Him, holy Poverty shines with a certain prerogative before them all.  By a unique grace, it excels the claims of the others. – The danger of indifference demands we do battle with triteness, shallowness, and dullness, and that we have to resist and begin to go in the other direction.


For it is the foundation and guardian of all virtues and enjoys a principal place and name among the gospel virtues. As long as they have been firmly placed on this foundation, the others need not fear the downpour of rains, the rush of floods, and the blast of winds that threaten ruin. – Truly good people are always unconscious of their goodness.


This is certainly appropriate since the Son of God, the Lord of virtue and the King of glory, fell in love with this virtue (poverty) with a special affection. He sought, found, and embraced it while achieving our salvation in the middle of the earth. – When we compare ourselves with other people, we seem good; when we compare ourselves with God, we are nothing. 


At the beginning of his preaching he placed it as a light of faith in the hands of those entering the gate, and even set it as the foundation stone of the house. While the other virtues receive the kingdom of heaven only by way of promise from Him, poverty is invested with it by Him without delay. Blessed, he said, are the poor in spirit, for the kingdom of heaven is theirs. – Love quickly decays.  Has our love grown cold?


The kingdom of heaven truly belongs to those who, of their own will, a spiritual intention, and a desire for eternal goods, possess nothing of this earth. It is necessary for those who do not care for the goods of the earth to live for those of heaven.  – The closer we get to Christ, the less certain we are of any merit of our own.


Just as it is necessary for those who renounce the things of the earth and consider them all as dung to taste with pleasure during this present exile the sweet crumbs which fall from the table of the holy angels. Thus might they merit to savor how sweet and delightful is the Lord. – The older we get, the better we see ourselves.


This is the true investiture of the kingdom of heaven, the assurance of an eternal possession in that kingdom, and a kind of holy foretaste of future beatitude  – The psychology of mediocrity seeks rather to ease the problem than cure it.


At the beginning of his conversion, therefore, blessed Francis, as the Savior’s true imitator and disciple, gave himself with all eagerness, all longing, all determination to searching for, finding, and embracing holy poverty. He did so neither wavering under adversity nor fearing injury, neither shirking effort nor shunning bodily discomfort, in order to achieve his desire: to reach her to whom the Lord had entrusted the keys of the kingdom of heaven. –  Life had to be forfeited for our sins, and no life is more precious than that of God who became man. His blood paid the infinite price


He eagerly began to go about the streets and piazzas of the city, as a curious explorer diligently looking for her whom his soul loved. He asked those standing about, inquired of those who came near him: “Have you seen her whom my soul loves?” But that saying was hidden from them as though it was barbaric. – Even if we claim not to believe, we still experience the moral effects of guilt.


Not understanding him, they told him: “We do not know what you’re saying. Speak to us in our own language and we will answer you.” At that time there was no voice and no sense among Adam’s children of being willing to converse with or to speak to anyone about poverty. – The great sin of the human race is rebellion.  We are rebels against God.


They hated it with a vengeance, as they do even today, and could not speak peacefully to anyone asking about it. Therefore, they answered him as they would a stranger and declared that they did not know anything of what he was seeking. – We need to resolve to change, because when we fall into a pattern of ordinariness, we are loath to change. 


“I will go to the best and to the wise,” blessed Francis said, “and I will speak with them. For they have known the way of the Lord and the judgment of their God, because those others are poor and stupid, ignorant of the way of the Lord and of the judgment of their God.”  – You will always know the dark days of the Church (and our own) when there is a walking away from the cross of Christ.


After he had said this, these men answered him more harshly: “What kind of doctrine is this you are bringing to our ears? May the poverty you seek always be with you, your children and your seed after you. As for us, however, let it be our good fortune to enjoy delights and to abound in riches for the duration of our lives is tedious and demanding, and there is no remedy at one’s final hour. We haven’t learned anything better than to rejoice, eat and drink while we live.”  – There is no such thing as capturing the passing glory. You have to go down the hill and climb the hill of Calvary to come to perfect glory.


While he was listening to these things, blessed Francis marveled in his heart and, thanking God, declared: “Blessed are you, the Lord God, who have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and have revealed them to little ones! Yes, Father, because such was your pleasure!  – The modern world is very fond of denying responsibility; it began in Eden.  The denial of responsibility stops at the cross of Christ.


Lord, father and ruler of my life, do not abandon me to their counsels nor let me fall in that condemnation. Through your grace, let me, instead, find what I seek for I am your servant and the son of your handmaid.”  – The Cross without Christ is tyranny; Christ without the Cross is a lie.


After he left the city, then, blessed Francis quickly came to a certain field in which, as he looked from afar, he saw two old men wasted away from great sorrow. One of them spoke in this way: “Whom shall I respect except the one who is poor and contrite in spirit and the one who trembles at my words?” “We brought nothing into the world,” the other said, “and, without a doubt, we can take nothing out of it; but having food and whatever covers us, we are content with these.” – Like vines, we must be pruned by the gardener, that we might be more fruitful.


When blessed Francis reached them, he said to them: “Tell me, I beg you, where does Lady Poverty dwell? Where does she eat? Where does she rest at noon, for I languish with love of her?”  – After we have embraced discipline, then we will be prepared to change others.


But they answered: “Good brother, we have sat here for a time and for times and for half a time. We have frequently seen her pass by for there are many searching for her. Sometimes many accompanied her, but she returned alone and naked, not adorned with any jewels, nor graced with any companions, nor wearing any clothes. She used to weep bitterly. –  Softness of character comes about when we desire to accommodate ourselves to the world, shrinking away from sacrifice, self-denial.


After receiving the advice of such men, then, blessed Francis came and chose some faithful companions for himself with whom he hurried to the mountain. He said to his brothers: “Come, let us climb the mountain of the Lord and the dwelling of Lady Poverty that she might teach us her ways and we might walk in her paths.”  – The Lord heals, but not always.  There will not be a complete healing until the whole cosmos is renewed.


Because of its great height and difficulty, they studied the ascent of the mountain from every angle. Some of them said to one another: “Who can climb this mountain and who can reach its summit?” Blessed Francis understood this and said to them: “The road is difficult, brothers, and the gate that leads to it is narrow. There are few who find it. Be strengthened in the Lord and in the power of his virtue for everything difficult will be easy for you. Cast off the burdens of your own will, get rid of the weight of your sins, and gird yourselves as powerful men.  – Christ solved pain by making it a condition of life. He conquered pain by using it as a means of attaining glory.


Forgetting whatever is in the past, stretch yourselves as much as you can for what lies ahead. I tell you that wherever you place your foot will be yours. For the Spirit is before your face, Christ the Lord, Who draws you to the heights of the mountain in bonds of love.  – God chooses us not for what we are, but for what God knows we can become.


The espousal of Poverty, brothers, is wonderful, yet we will be able to enjoy her embraces easily because the lady of the nations has been made as it were a widow, the queen of the virtues worthless and contemptible to all. There is no one of our region who would dare to cry out, no one who would oppose us, no one who would be able to prohibit by law this salvific exchange.  – Love knows no limits.


All her friends have spurned her and have been made her enemies.” After he said these things, they all began to follow the holy Francis. – Sometimes the only way the good Lord can get into some hearts is to break them.


While they were hastening to the summit at a very easy pace, Lady Poverty, standing at the top of the mountain, looked down its slopes. She was greatly astonished at seeing these men climbing so ably, almost flying. “Who are these men,” she asked, “who fly like clouds and like doves to their windows?  – The crucifix is my autobiography.  The blood is the ink. The nails the pen.  The  skin the parchment. On every line of that body I can trace my life.


Be strengthened in the Lord and in the power of his virtue for everything difficult will be easy for you. Cast off the burdens of your own will, get rid of the weight of your sins, and gird yourselves as powerful men. Forgetting whatever is in the past, stretch yourselves as much as you can for what lies ahead. I tell you that wherever you place your foot will be yours. For the Spirit is before your face, Christ the Lord, Who draws you to the heights of the mountain in bonds of love. – Instead of a question of superiority or inferiority (in the Church and in fraternity) it is a question of the different roles we fulfill.


The espousal of  Poverty, brothers, is wonderful, yet we will be able to enjoy her embraces easily because the lady of the nations has been made as it were a widow, the queen of the virtues worthless and contemptible to all. There is no one of our region who would dare to cry out, no one who would oppose us, no one who would be able to prohibit by law this salvific exchange. – We are all thieves. We cheat God in our lives; we cheat Him in our worship; we cheat Him in our relationships with others.  In us Jesus is reputed among the wicked. 


All her friends have spurned her and have been made her enemies.” After he said these things, they all began to follow the holy Francis.  – Scripture never speaks of reconciliation except through the death of Christ.  We are saved by the cross and resurrection.


While they were hastening to the summit at a very easy pace, Lady Poverty, standing at the top of the mountain, looked down its slopes. She was greatly astonished at seeing these men climbing so ably, almost flying. “Who are these men,” she asked, “who fly like clouds and like doves to their windows? It has been a long time since I have seen such people or gazed upon those so unencumbered, all their burdens set aside. Therefore I will speak to them about what engages my heart so that, when staring down at the abyss that lies about them, they do not, like others, have second thoughts about such a climb.  – Peter and Judas both betrayed Jesus and both repented.  One repented to the Lord and the other repented to himself.  One lived in hope and the other died in despair.


And so Lady Poverty welcomed them with blessings of sweetness. “Tell me, brothers,” she asked them, “what is the reason for your coming and why have you come so quickly from the valley of misery to the mountain of light? Are you, perhaps, looking for me who, as you see, am a poor little one tossed about by storms and without any consolation?”  – In the Garden of Gethsemane, the Lord suffered not so much from pain, as from evil.


“We have come to you, our Lady,” they answered, “and beg you: receive us in peace! We wish to become servants of the Lord of hosts, because He is the King of glory. We have heard that you are the queen of virtues and, to some extent, we have learned this from experience. Casting ourselves at your feet, then, we humbly ask you to agree to be with us.  – Nothing gives us so much understanding of the love of God, the sacrificial love, as God coming down to this world from heavenly headquarters and saying: ‘I will take the pain as my own’…This is the agape love of Christianity.


St. Francis “conversation” with Lady Poverty 

(below continues the chapter quoted above)


Be for us the way of arriving at the King of glory, just as you were for Him when He, the Daybreak from on high, agreed to visit those sitting in darkness and in the shadow of death. For we know that yours is the power, yours is the kingdom. Established as queen and lady by the King of kings, you are above all powers. Simply make peace with us and we will be saved. In that way, He Who redeemed us through you may receive us through you. If you decide to save us, immediately we will be set free. For He, the King of kings, the Lord of lords, the Creator of heaven and earth, desired your splendor and beauty. Even though the king was reclining at table, rich and glorious in his kingdom, he left his house and gave up his inheritance: for there were glory and riches in his house. And so, coming from his royal throne, he sought you with the greatest courtesy. How great must be your dignity, then, and how beyond compare your stature! But after the Lord of lords came, taking you as His own, He lifted up your head among the tribes of the peoples. He adorned you as a bride with a crown, exalting you above the heights of the clouds. Yet, even though any number of people, ignorant of your power and glory, still hate you, this takes nothing away from you because you live freely on the sacred mountains, in the strongest dwelling-place of Christ’s glory 



Monthly Meditation by Father Francis Sariego, OFM Cap – September 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      regional website: skdsfo       email:

September 2020

Dear Sisters and Brothers in St. Francis,

The Lord bless you with His peace!

The Fathers of the Church maintained that human beings stand at the point of intersection between two gravitational fields. First, there is the force of gravity which pulls us down – towards selfishness, falsehood and evil; the gravity which diminishes us and distances us from the heights of God.  On the other hand there is the gravitational force of Gods love: the fact that we are loved by God and respond in love attracts us upwards.  (We find ourselves) between this twofold gravitational force; everything depends on our escaping the gravitational field of evil and becoming free to be attracted completely by the gravitational force of God … (Pope Benedict XVI)

The more we respond to this force that attracts upward to God, the more we are encouraged to look up and beyond the things that so often easily attract and even seduce us here on earth.  We are human beings, created to live in and love God’s creation.  However, life here is a journey and not the end of all our desires.  When we build on the bridge, rather than cross over it, life becomes precarious and the thought of the future can be disconcerting and frightening. When we allow ourselves to be ‘grasped by God’, life changes immensely, though the circumstances we encounter may remain the same.  The more intimate and personal the experience we have, the less capable we are of expressing in words all that we feel.

Our Seraphic Father St. Francis not only had a profound relationship with God, but also received signs of God’s unbounded love and trust. The Poverello of Assisi emptied himself of all that could possess him. His response from the Eternal Love would be the image of the Crucified Lord he would bear the last two year of his life. He became a living image of the Crucified Savior, our Lord Jesus Christ. What can anyone say about such a powerful and awesome experience!  Not only to be in God’s presence, but to be physically signed as God’s Incarnate Son for all the world to see! What can we say? What embarrassment and humiliation he must have suffered in wanting to be devoid of everything, even human respect and recognition, and now becoming a spectacle for all the world to see this ’new and wonderful thing that has happened’.

We know that it was as he was celebrating the Lent of Saint Michael, that St. Francis was invaded by an absolute silence. It surrounded and enveloped him in this ‘Divine Presence’. Filled with wonder but peace at the same time, in a moment of total abandonment, he saw before him a mysterious person, adorned with the wings of the seraphs of whom the Prophet speaks in Scripture, whose hands and feet and side were dripping blood.  What Francis must have felt at that moment is indescribable for those of us who have not experienced this gift of God’s love. Such a sight, as the powerful presence of the Almighty in the Scriptures, would surely have taken the life of Francis, had he not been signed for a purpose requiring he remain for a short while longer among us. As the old prayer for the Feast of the Stigmata states: … when the world was growing cold you signed your servant Francis with the holy stigmata to re-kindle the fire of your love …  No doubt, as the vision disappeared, he became aware that his hands and feet and side were pierced and bleeding. Can we imagine the pain and agony that he must have felt every day bearing these wounds?  Yet, there was still a joy in his heart at the powerful confirmation of God’s love for him and all that he had been ready and willing to do in response to God’s original call at San Damiano. What was impressed in his heart at San Damiano was now impressed on his body for all to see at La Verna.

It would not be long before Our Seraphic Father would sing his own song of praise and thanksgiving for all the Lord had done for him and through his lowly servant.  Just as Jesus on the cross, St. Francis would offer his prayer of ’consummatum est’ to the Father and all the brothers.  He would let them know that he had done his part and now they must continue and do their part.  I have done what was mine to do.   Powerful words of acknowledgment and gratitude for a life fully lived for God and others.  Then he continues telling the brothers that you must do your part. Prophetic words that remind us all that we who have accepted the call to be Franciscans must continue to live the Spirit and Life we have professed.  It is not enough to know the life of St. Francis of Assisi, or be aware of his writings and the Spirit of the Order of which we are all gratefully brothers and sisters.

There is a story, that loses in the translation, that speaks of some rather cute but insignificant looking donkeys  who, to attract attention to them by the gypsies who use them because they are so small, are adorned with bells, colored ribbons, and so on. Some who profess our lives are like those donkeys, they need the frills to attract attention to themselves but refuse to let their lives be the attraction.  We pride ourselves on having a Founder who was stigmatized, but we are hesitant to bear the ’stigmata’ of our responsibilities and fidelity to the Word of God, the Church, the Rule, the Constitutions, our own local ministers in harmony with the Church and Order.  Some are running after everything that makes them ’feel’ good, rather than pray, reflect on, and live what they have professed to make them be good and become better, all the way to ’sainthood’.  We are all called to be saints.


It is not often that we are privileged to enter the heart of a saint.  It is not often that we are privileged to peer into the depths of a soul “inebriated” with the eternal.  We emulate the life we revere.  We are privileged to be made sharers in the gifts of that life ‑ gifts bestowed because of the love and willingness of that privileged soul to be a person for all people. Through Baptism, St. Francis, as well as we, became one with Jesus in the Spirit through the life of grace.  In his emptying of himself and discarding all that pertained to his former life in society before the Bishop and people of Assisi, the Poverello of Assisi became one with Christ in his detachment from the world and its “ego”, from its exclusive relationships and their confining demands, and from the material things and their possessive nature that keep one a slave to wants unfulfilled rather than encourage gratitude for gifts received. In his service to the poor and the brothers and sisters, St. Francis became one with the Mediator between God and Humanity. His love for Christ, His Mother, and the Church overflowed into an evangelical ministry that touched the hearts and lives of many.

We too are offered similar privileges and responsibilities. Their effectiveness is determined by our conviction and commitment to surrender to the One Who calls us to such a privileged position.  We too share in the Baptismal character of all the faithful called to live the Gospel. We too are encouraged to live the spiritual detachment from the inflated ego, the unbridled passions of the senses and the slavery to material things.  We too are expected to share in the priesthood of the faithful when, together with those ordained to the ministerial priesthood, we offer the perfect sacrifice that re‑presents the one sacrifice of Jesus.  We experience the effects of this sacrifice according to the intensity with which we surrender ourselves to the urging of the Spirit and the work of grace in our life.

The impression of the Stigmata on the body of our Seraphic Father St. Francis of Assisi is a personal, intimate and uniting experience.  The “mysterious person” took St. Francis through the mystical-mysterious experiences of his life of prayer and contemplation, and impressed on his body an image, enfleshed for the world to see, of the Savior’s eternal love for all humanity.  The outward signs of Jesus Crucified that St. Francis bore were a renewed reminder of God’s love for His creation, a creation that had grown cold in its love and trust in God.  The life of our “crucified” father, whose mere presence served as a sign of contradiction to the world, was a call for everyone to look beyond the self‑centeredness, violence, and materialism of those who so quickly relegate God to an outpost of the mind or who forget God altogether.  Humanity all too soon forgets its past experiences of infidelity and the consequences they have on a world that lives without God as its guiding presence.

The Stigmata of St. Francis of Assisi was accepted and recognized by the Church and by those lives transformed by God’s grace, God’s love and wonders did not cease to emanate from his very presence. He was like the bronze serpent Moses raised for the Israelites to look on ‑ lest they die ‑ and be healed of the venom of the serpents that had bitten them.  The venom of the Serpent that has bitten and poisoned so many of God’s elect down through the centuries continues its murderous mission as it seeks to infect the lives of good people who sincerely search for and desire the Lord in their lives.  When we look to the Crucified of Calvary we are saved. When we look to the Crucified of Assisi we are encouraged to look upon and believe in a God Who walks with us and works within us leading us beyond any poisonous seduction, allurement, or even compromise that would severely affect or even destroy our relationship with God. But, we must look upon him and believe.  We must look upon the Lord Crucified and believe in His power and presence to save.  We must look upon our Seraphic Father and remember the love he had for God and the love God had for him, and remember the love we had when we heard and accepted the call to be the sons and daughters of the Crucified of Assisi. We were called to follow his example of openness and faithfulness to God, God’s Word, His Church and our Franciscan Family; when any of these lack, we cannot call ourselves true Franciscans, and in some cases possibly not even true Catholics.

We talk about St.  Francis of Assisi, we reflect on his life and words at our meetings and Masses.  Do we emulate his life and teachings so that others see the values we preach lived in our own lives?  There is often a real lack of substance in our devotion to St. Francis, in fact, there are some who know the great mystics of other religious traditions and have not even opened a book to read St. Francis, St. Clare and the great mystics of our own Seraphic Family.  Often those in formation will not read the books offered for their knowledge, but are ready and willing to read other spiritual writers. Nevertheless, the question arises: if you want to be a Franciscan, but do not want to read or study our life as the Family of Francis and Clare, how much do you really want to be a Franciscan?  Oh, and by the way, we are a family. St. Francis tells the brothers in the Rule, and all his spiritual children: For if mother loves her child according to the flesh, how much more must we love one another according to the Spirit!  

 The highest praise is imitation!  Let us begin to recognize the holiness in our Franciscan Family and strive to live the Spirit and Life offered us.   Let us be authentic!  

As Spiritual Children of St. Francis of Assisi, we carry on the Christian’s mission to be Heralds of the Lord’s goodness to the world.  Our appreciation and devotion for the Poverello must inevitably lead us to emulate his virtues and to live the counsels he offered in his role as guide and father of our Franciscan Family.  He proclaimed God’s love to the world, and his lasting example challenges those who seek him out to live the values of prayer, sacrifice, reconciliation, reparation, charity and love that he expounded.  The Cross of Jesus made us one again in the Blood of the Savior; the wounds of our Seraphic Father challenge us to remember the Cross, our banner of salvation, and to live our life more deeply in the Father’s Will as did our Savior.

The month of September is imbued with the mystery of the Cross. May we, as Spiritual Children of St. Francis of Assisi, treasure the example and words of our Seraphic Father and Founder. May the image of the Crucified Savior become more alive and meaningful to us through the image of  his privileged servant, our Father, and not just at our official meetings or special gatherings.  May the Feast of the Sacred Stigmata Impressed on our Seraphic Father St. Francis of Assisi that we celebrate this month be a calming and reassuring reality for us to consider as we continue our earthly journey. May his words and example be indicators that help us find our way through the crossroads of life, especially when the choices offered are enticing, alluring, seductive, but we know them in faith to be deceiving and dangerous. May we rejoice in the Lord for the gift He gave the Church and the world in our Father St. Francis.

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

Peace and Blessings,

Fr. Francis A. Sariego, O.F.M. Cap.

Regional Spiritual Assistant


Two options for Franciscan Themed Face Masks

Two options for Franciscan related face masks.  Neither the Region nor I have any connection to either company!

Franciscan Themed Face Masks

Tau Cross Face Masks

Who do you say you are? August, 2020

Who do you say that you are?

This weekend, I participated in the National Formation Directors Workshop. I learned a great deal; but, what keeps resounding in my head is from the talk that Father Christopher Panagoplous, T.O.R. President in Turn of the CNSA, gave at the opening on Friday night.

He referred to today’s (8/22/20) Gospel from Matthew, chapter 18.  Jesus asked the apostles “But who do you say that I am?”  Father Chris took that question and asked all of us “But who do you say that you are? When someone says “Tell me a little about yourself”, what comes out of your mouth first?  How do you see yourself and in what order of importance? Well, I’m a widow, I love to garden, I rescue hospice dogs, I’m a ‘pre-reader’ for several of my favorite authors, I’m a penpal to several prisoners, I crochet winter scarves for the homeless, I’m a cantor, lector and Extraordinary Minister of the Eucharist at my parish, I do a lot of different kinds of crafts, I love old black and white movies and oh yeah….I’m a Secular Franciscan.

Oh yeah,…I’m a Secular Franciscan????? As if that is an afterthought, or at the bottom of the list.  All the other things are what I do.  Being a Secular Franciscan is who I am!

If I’m not seeing it as first in my life how can anyone else see it?  Can anyone see from the way I live my life that being a Secular Franciscan is who I say I am?  In this craziness we are living in now, do I stand by when a group of neighbors are having a racist conversation? Do I faithfully recycle and put a full bin out on collection days? During this time of ‘sheltering-in-place’ have I reached out to anyone outside my circle of family and friends to see how they are doing?

While we have this time on our hands thanks to the pandemic, why not take an inventory of who you are and what you do and see if things need to be reorganized a bit? All of us can use a tune-up now and again.  Thanks, Father Chris, for the reminder!

Padre Pio Fraternity working their new apostolate

Congratulations to the Padre Pio Fraternity, Philadelphia, PA, who have joined forces through the efforts of their minister Carolyn Murray, OFS, with Philadelphia Parks and Recreation to clean up the environment. In 90 minutes they collected 10 industrial size bags of trash, 6 tires and a mattress! Not only are these brothers and sisters “walking the walk”, they find it a great opportunity to “talk the talk” while working with the other volunteers.  Keep those apostolate stories coming!!

More Good News!! Keep it coming!

Renee Eck, OFS, Minister of St. Patrick fraternity, Wilmington, DE, proudly passed on this news:  my husband Howard Eck, OFS, from St Patrick’s fraternity was accepted as an acolyte this past weekend. God willing next year he will be an ordained deacon.

(Howard is Formation Director of St. Patrick’s) Congratulations and best of luck in the coming year!!

Too Good Not to Share!

I had the distinct privilege of “attending” = Zoom, the monthly gathering of the Immaculate Conception fraternity yesterday.  During the business meeting, it was reported that there was a certain amount of  money in the “Poor Box”.  The minister, Amanda Jamnicky, OFS, explained for my benefit just what the Poor Box is.  Every month a box is left on the table during the gathering and everyone throws in whatever change they have on them.  When the amount reaches $50, the money is given to a member of the fraternity.  (They are going down the list of members alphabetically) That member then donates the $50 to his or her favorite charity. What a truly Franciscan apostolate! – Helping the poor and including everyone in the fraternity!  Well done, Immaculate Conception, well done!

August, 2020 – Thoughts from your Formation Director, Justin Carisio

SKD Formation Monthly-August 2020