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Meditation for September 2021 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

September 2021

Dear Sisters and Brothers in St. Francis,

The Lord give you his peace!

In September 1224, two years before death would usher him into eternity early in life, while at prayer at a solitary site on a mountaintop in Tuscany, our Seraphic Father, St. Francis of Assisi, received the answer to his prayer: O Lord Jesus Christ, two graces do I ask You before I die: the first, that in my lifetime I may feel, as far as possible, both in my soul and body, that pain which You, sweet Lord, endured in the hour of Your most bitter Passion;  the second, that I may feel in my heart as much as possible of that excess of love by which You, O Son of God, were inflamed to suffer so cruel a Passion for us sinners.  A winged Seraph appeared to him and signed him with the visible marks of the wounds of Christ. St. Francis of Assisi, the Little Poor Man, the Universal Brother, had become a living image of the Crucified Christ. The marks gave witness to the integrity of the person who bore them and credibility to the message he had now become, so that when a spirit of indifference was taking over the world, (The Lord) renewed in the flesh of St. Francis the Sacred Stigmata of (His) Passion to rekindle in our hearts the fire of (His) love. (adapted Opening Prayer for the Feast of the Impression of the Stigmata).

St. Francis received a wonderful privilege that carried with it a great responsibility.  He was entrusted with a mission: to rekindle the fire of Divine Love in the hearts of God’s children.  The Stigmata he bore speak volumes for those willing to ‘read’ them in a spirit of faith.  To see him was to see the living image of the Crucified. To see him was a challenge to change. To encounter him was to recognize God speaking through him reminding all of God’s limitless love and calling everyone to cooperate with grace and become the persons we were all created to be: children of the Father, redeemed in the blood of the Son, bound together in the family of God by the power of the Holy Spirit.  Those willing to understand and accept the message of the wounds and the person signed with them, knew they were ‘called to action’. The Stigmata call to action not apathy, loving not loathing, conviction not complacency, determination not doubt, commitment not compromise, life not lethargy.

Like the great priest-prophet of the Old Testament, Ezekiel, St. Francis was called to be a living prophecy to a lethargic world suffering from spiritual dryness. Ezekiel’s prophetic words speak of numberless dry, lifeless, disjointed bones, lying on a vast field, (see Ezekiel 37: 1-14); they could be compared to many periods in human history, to St. Francis’ time, and even to our own, when war and its after-effects on society, violence, economic difficulties, contagious illnesses, social restlessness, immorality and amorality take their toll on the spiritual life of God’s people.  Even those of deep faith can experience a dryness and spiritual fatigue. They look for understanding and direction.  They seek someone who will journey with them and nourish them with God’s Word and healing grace.

To see St. Francis, signed with the sign of the Crucified, made Jesus come alive in the hearts of those he met and with whom he spoke. The Stigmata he bore were a visible sign to all of a presence that was reassuring, encouraging, life-giving.  Isaiah spoke of the wounds of Christ centuries before His Passion and Death – Through His wounds we are healed (Isaiah 53: 4-5).  St. Francis of Assisi accepted to let those wounds come alive once again in his own body, and thus be a reminder and a sign of hope through Jesus’ self-sacrificing love in His Eucharistic Presence that re-presents His redemptive Passion-Death-Resurrection; those wounds kept the reality of that one great sacrifice vividly alive before the eyes of all.

The great scene of that field of bones in Ezekiel is also a reminder of what we are without God, and what we become once we allow His Word to enter our lives and His Spirit-breath to enter our hearts. There is a gradual and effective rebirth, a new creation, a re-creation in each one of us. God Himself intervenes by doing in-with-for us what is otherwise humanly impossible.  When we feel like ‘dry bones’ – tired, discouraged, disillusioned, even despairing – that is the moment for us to hope against all hope (Romans 4: 18).  God Himself will bring about our spiritual ‘resurrection’ in this life.  The sign of our faith is the Resurrection of Christ and the Eucharist offers us the opportunity to participate in His Passion-Death-Resurrection, our pledge of future life and glory. Love for the cross is the distinctive sign of chosen souls. Jesus’ wounds remind us how He loved us to His death that we might live with Him.

As Spiritual Children of St. Francis of Assisi, we continue to let Jesus come alive in a world grown cold to the Gospel of Our Lord Jesus Christ.  The ‘Good News’ that we preach with our lives is that God so loved the world He sent His only Son so that all who believe in Him might have life … He did not come to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. (John 3: 16) When we ‘climb Calvary’ with Christ and accept to receive ‘our own stigmata’ and bear joyfully the responsibilities and burdens that come with life, we begin to rekindle the flame of faith in the hearts of others, as it grows stronger by God’s grace in ourselves.

The signing of our Seraphic Father with the Sacred Stigmata of Jesus calls us to action.  It must however begin with each one of us first, then reach out to others.  Ultimately we reach a point where everything is in perspective and even the world is put under our feet; it becomes the theater of salvation, rather than a stumbling-block of distractions and seductions that destroy fervor and lead to tepidity, indifference, and finally separation from all that is good and all that is God. St. Francis’ Prayer asking to experience the love that Jesus had in dying for us and the reception of the Stigmata on La Verna help us to reflect upon a simple and powerful way to strengthen and deepen our spiritual lives.

1)      Imitate Love – Ask God for the ability to surrender totally in trust to God’s will.

2)      Meditate on the Sufferings and Love of Jesus – Keep the image of the Passion-Death of Jesus alive in your heart.   

3)      Love the Cross – The Cross without Christ is a lie.  With Christ, the Cross becomes not a sign of Life and Love.  

4)      Grow in Christian Perfection – The spiritual life is not static.   

5)      CLIMB CALVARY – To grow in our Christian life is to be one with the mystery of our redemption

6)      Embrace Everything with a Cheerful Soul – God loves a cheerful giver. Let go of false securities, and trust. 

7)     Be Faithful – The Spirit’s work is kept alive by faith-filled lives that never slacken. Faith is a verb, not a noun.

8)     Place the World Under Your Feet – The world is the “Theater of Redemption” to use gratefully not serve slavishly.

The impression of the Stigmata of Jesus on Saint Francis of Assisi, celebrated this month, challenges us to remember and live the words Per Crucem ad Lucem – Through the Cross to the Light. The wounds of the Passion speak of a world that refused and rejected that Incarnate God, Who took on human nature that humanity might rise above what was leading it astray.  Treachery, betrayal, capture, torture, and death were the ‘thanks’ offered all the blessings bestowed and received.  The wounds we celebrate in Our Seraphic Father call us to be spiritually impressed with the same ‘signs’ and respond to the gift as did St. Francis.

–     The nails in the hands remind us to use our hands to bless and not offend, to give not seek to receive, to embrace rather than push away, to raise up rather than put down, help rather than hinder …

–     The nails in the feet remind us of the Scriptural phrase: blessed are the feet of the bearer of peace. They lead us to approach all as sisters and brothers, move towards those in need rather than remain stationary in our own comfort and security, take the first step and seek out those estranged rather than wait for the other to take the first step …

–     The heart pierced reminds us that we must disarm our hearts to one another and allow all to enter our loving embrace that they too, as we, may discover the limitless and unconditional love of God through us.

May the Impression of the Sacred Wounds of Jesus on the body of our Seraphic Father St. Francis of Assisi speak to our hearts as a challenge to grow ever more Christlike. May God bless us; Our Lady guide, guard, and protect us; and our Seraphic Father St. Francis of Assisi look upon each one of us, his Spiritual Children, with loving care.

Happy Feast Day to all!

Peace and Blessings

Fr. Francis A. Sariego, O.F.M. Cap.

Regional Spiritual Assistant

 

Thoughts for the Day August 2021 – Father Francis Sariego, OFM Cap

August 2021  

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 Three Companions 

  Daily quotes from various sources 

LETTER 

To the Reverend Father in Christ, Brother Crescentius, by the grace of God General Minister, Brother Leo, Brother Rufino, and Brother Angelo, one-time companions, although unworthy, of the blessed father Francis, express their dutiful and devout reverence in the Lord. – The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing. 

By command of the last general chapter, and of yourself, the brothers are bound to forward to Your Paternity such signs and wonders of our blessed father Francis which they know or can ascertain. We who, though unworthy, lived for a long time in his company, thought it opportune to recount truthfully to Your Holiness a few of his many deeds. – Time is limited, so do not waste it. 

We ourselves have seen or heard about them from other holy brothers, in particular from Brother Philip, the Visitator of the Poor Ladies, Brother Illuminato of Arce, Brother Masseo of Marignano, and a companion of the venerable father, Brother Giles, Brother John, who gathered these things from that holy Brother Giles, and from Brother Bernard of blessed memory, the first companion of blessed Francis. – If life were predictable, it would not be life, and it would be without flavor

We do not intend merely to relate miracles, which demonstrate, but do not cause sanctity. Our intention is to point out some striking aspects of his holy manner of life and the intention of his pious desires, for the praise and glory of almighty God and of the holy father Francis, and for the edification of those who desire to follow in his footsteps. – Spread love everywhere you go

We do not intend to write a legend, since other legends about his life and the miracles that the Lord worked through him have been written some time ago; rather, we have picked, as it were, from a field of flowers those we have judged the more beautiful. We are not following a chronological order, and are omitting many things which have already been related eloquently and accurately in other legends already mentioned you deem it expedient, you may insert these few things we have written into the other legends. – When you reach the end of your rope, tie a knot in it and hang on

For we believe that if these things had been known to the venerable men who wrote those legends, they would in no way have passed them by; rather they would have embellished them with their own polished style as best they could, and thus transmitted them to posterity. May your Paternity always be well in the Lord Jesus Christ, in whom we commend ourselves to your holiness as your devoted sons. Given at Greccio, August 11, in the year of Our Lord 1246. – You are absolutely unique, just like everyone else.  

 

Chapter I 

HIS BIRTH, VANITY, FRIVOLITY AND PRODIGALITY, 

HOW HE BECAME GENEROUS AND CHARITABLE TO THE POOR 

Francis was raised in the city of Assisi, which is located in the boundaries of the valley of Spoleto. His mother at first called him John; but when his father, who had been away when he was born, returned from France, he later named him Francis. When he grew up, endowed with clever natural abilities, he pursued his father’s profession, that of a merchant. He was, however, vastly different from his father. – Judge each day by the seeds you plant, not by the harvest you reap

He was more good-natured and generous, given over to revelry and song with his friends, roaming day and night throughout the city of Assisi. He was most lavish in spending, so much so that all he could possess and earn was squandered on feasting and other pursuits. – The future belongs to those who believe in beauty of their dreams

Because of this his parents often reprimanded him, telling him that he spent so much money on himself and others that he seemed to be the son of some great prince rather than their son. But since his parents were wealthy and loved him very much, they tolerated all these things to avoid upsetting him.- Tell me I forget. Teach I remember, Involve me and I learn. 

10 

When neighbors commented on his extravagance, his mother replied: “What do you think of my son? He will still be a son of God through grace.” He was lavish, indeed prodigal, not only in these things, but also in spending more money on expensive clothes than his social position warranted. He was so vain in seeking to stand out that sometimes he had the most expensive material sewed together with the cheapest cloth onto the same garment.- The best and most beautiful things in the world must be felt with the heart. 

11 

He was naturally courteous in manner and speech and, following his heart’s intent, never uttered a rude or offensive word to anyone. Moreover, since he was such a light-hearted and undisciplined youth, he proposed to answer back those speaking to him rarely in a brusque manner. – It is during our darkest moments that we must focus to see the light

12 

His reputation, because of this, became so widespread throughout almost the entire region, that many who knew him said that, in the future, he would be something great. From these stepping stones of natural strengths, he was brought to that grace that prompted him to look within himself: “You are generous and courteous to those from whom you receive nothing except passing and worthless approval. – Whoever is happy will make others happy also

13 

Is it not right that, on account of God who repays most generously, you should be courteous and generous to the poor?” From that day he looked on poor people generously and provided them affluently with alms. Although a merchant, he was a very flamboyant squanderer of wealth. – Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail

14 

One day when he was in the shop where he was selling cloth, totally absorbed in business of this sort, a poor man came in, begging alms for the love of God. Preoccupied with thoughts of wealth and the care of business, he did not give him alms. Touched by divine grace, he accused himself of great rudeness, saying: “If that poor man had asked something from you for a great count or baron, you would certainly have granted him his request. How much more should you have done this for the King of kings and the Lord of all!” Because of this incident, he resolved in his heart, from then on, not to deny a request to anyone asking in the name of so great a Lord.- Spread love everywhere you go

 

Chapter II 

HOW HE WAS IMPRISONED IN PERUGIA 

AND THE TWO VISIONS HE HAD WHILE HE WANTED TO BECOME A KNIGHT 

 

15 

 At that time, war broke out between Perugia and Assisi. Together with many of his fellow citizens, Francis was captured and confined in Perugia, yet, because of his noble manners, he was imprisoned with the knights. – It is not the years in your life that count, but the life in your years

16 

One time when his fellow prisoners were depressed, he, who was naturally cheerful and jovial, not only was not dejected but actually seemed to be happy. One of the prisoners rebuked him as insane for being cheerful in prison. Francis replied vigorously: “What do you think will become of me? Rest assured, I will be worshiped throughout the whole world.”- Never let fear of striking out keep you from playing the game.  

17 

One of the knights who was imprisoned with him had injured a fellow prisoner, causing all the others to ostracize him. Francis alone not only acted in a friendly way toward him, but also urged the other prisoners to do the same. After a year, when peace was restored between those cities, Francis and his fellow prisoners returned to Assisi.- Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.  

18 

A few years later, a nobleman from the city of Assisi was preparing himself with knightly arms to go to Apulia in order to increase his wealth and fame. When Francis learned of this, he yearned to go with him to that same place, and to be knighted by that count, Gentile by name.- Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up

19 

He prepared clothing as expensive as possible, since even though he was poorer in riches than his fellow citizen, he was far more extravagant. – The only impossible journey is the one you never begin

20 

He was completely preoccupied in carrying this out, and was burning with desire to set out, when, one night, the Lord visited him in a dream. Knowing his desire for honors, He enticed and lifted him to the pinnacle of glory by a vision.- In this life we cannot do great things. We can only do small things with great love.  

21 

That night while he was sleeping, someone appeared to him, a man calling him by name. He led him into a beautiful bride’s elegant palace filled with knightly arms and on its walls hung glittering shields and other armor of knightly splendor. Overjoyed, he wondered what all this meant and asked to whom these brightly shining arms and this beautiful palace belonged. He was told that all these, including the palace, belonged to him and his knights.- You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.  

22 

Awakening in the morning, he got up with great joy. Since he had not yet fully tasted the spirit of God, he thought in a worldly way that he must be singled out magnificently, and he considered the vision a portent of future good fortune.- The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.  

23 

He resolved then to undertake the journey to Apulia to be knighted by the count. He was even more cheerful than usual, prompting many people to wonder. When they asked him the reason why he was beaming with joy, he answered: “I know that I will become a great prince.” – The greatest barrier to success is the fear of failure

24 

The day before the vision occurred, the promise of great chivalry and nobility was so strong in him, that it may be believed that the vision itself may have provided the motive. – If we are growing, we are always going be out of our comfort zone. 

25 

On that day, in fact, he donated all the refined and expensive clothes he had recently acquired to a poor knight. When he set out for Apulia, he got as far as Spoleto, where he began to feel a little ill.- A leader is one who knows the way, shows the way, and goes the way.  

26 

No less anxious about the trip, as he was falling to sleep, half awake, he heard someone asking him where he wanted to go. When Francis revealed to him his entire plan, the other said: “Who can do more good for you? The lord or the servant?” – The key to change is to let go of fear

27 

When [Francis] answered him: “The lord,” he again said to him: “Then why are you abandoning the lord for the servant, the patron for the client?” – If you wait to do everything until you’re sure it’s right, you’ll probably never do much of anything.  

28 

And Francis said: “Lord, what do you want me to do?” “Go back to your land,” he said, “and what you are to do will be told to you. – Courage is the power to let go of the familiar

29 

You must understand in another way the vision which you saw.” When he woke up, he began to think very carefully about this vision. Just as the first vision had caused him to be almost completely carried away with great joy in a desire for worldly prosperity, the second made him completely introspective, causing him to marvel at and consider its strength, so that he was unable to sleep any more that night. – Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm

30 

Therefore when it was morning, buoyant and happy, he quickly returned to Assisi, expecting that the Lord, who had revealed these things to him, would show him His will and give him counsel about salvation.- Every accomplishment starts with a decision to try

31 

Changed in mind, he now refused to go to Apulia and desired to conform completely to the divine will. – Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be

 

 

August 2021 Meditations from 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 

August 2021 

Dear Sisters and Brothers in St. Francis, 

The Lord give you his peace! 

In a letter, dated January 1985, entitled, The Bread of Life is still in the Dust, a bishop writes to a pastor of his diocese in Italy. The parish priest has just had his church vandalized, precious vessels stolen, and the Blessed Sacrament thrown all over the pavement of the church. This was not the first instance of profanation of the Eucharist and a church building in that diocese. The people and their priests were deeply saddened. They were sorry for the building having been vandalized and various gold and silver vessels and reliquaries taken, which can never be replaced because of their ancient historical value (the diocese goes back to the early middle ages in Italy), but they were devastated over the heinous disregard for the precious gift of the Eucharist. This people, steeped in their ancient and popular traditions yet fully modern in their immersion in the realities of the twentieth century, gathered around their priest and bishop to lament their violation, to support their shepherds, to pray for the perpetrators, and to implore God’s love, mercy, and forgiveness. ‘Eucharistic People’ are capable of so much!   

Saddened, hurt, offended, angry, the people were immediately ready to pick up the ‘pieces’. The first of the ‘pieces’ were those of the ‘strewn’ Body of Christ, the Gift of Jesus Himself, blasphemously discarded for the sake of a few baubles the thieves could possibly gain from the sale of the vessels to other unscrupulous individuals such as they. How we allow ourselves to get sidetracked by the glitz and glitter of things around us! We fail to recognize so often the true treasures that God is making available to us! It is quite easy for us to enter a Church building and forget that this is none other than the House of God and the Gate of Heaven! (Genesis 28: 17) Familiarity can condition us to the point that we assist at liturgies for their social, artistic, educational, ‘entertaining’, traditional value, and fail to realize that the ‘frame’ only indicates but is not the ‘masterpiece’. The ‘masterpiece’ is the very Presence of God calling us to a greater relationship with Him so that we may continue to achieve that full stature of Christ  (Ephesians 4: 13) we were created to reach. We are gifted with life that we might become, according to our cooperation with God’s grace, more the image of Christ in our world. We live in a world that has ears to hear but does not listen, and eyes to see but refuses to recognize (cfr Matthew 13: 14-38) God in our midst.   

Once the Eucharist is the center of our worship, then the family of the Church – local, diocesan, universal – can begin to strengthen its unity with the shepherds of the Church. It is the Eucharist that makes the Church as the Church makes the Eucharist (Vatican II). Some have relegated the Eucharist to a pious devotion rather than a reality to be lived. The Eucharist is a miracle that cannot be seen, thus it is a deeper mystery that must be lived to recognize the reality and experience the transforming effects for those who are illumined by faith. 

Some do not see the relevance of the Eucharist as the Center of “Catholic” (universal) life because it tends to separate us from other Christian denominations. The Eucharist is the Center of Catholic Christian life inviting others into a deeper awareness of eternal truth. The people of that devastated church mentioned above, because of their faith, were shaken into a reality that some may have forgotten. The sight of the Eucharist thrown on the floor in a predominantly Catholic country and very Catholic area was a stark reminder to all of how delicate our faith is and how easily it can be abused. The vandalism actually brought the people of the city and the parish closer together. It is the story of Calvary all over again. Jesus had to be abused and disregarded once again, so that those who loved Him, even lukewarmly, could be rekindled in their love for Him and for one another because of Him. The Eucharist is Calvary re-lived for all to look upon Him Whom they have thrust (cfr. Zechariah 12: 10), so that when I am lifted up I will call all people to myself  (John 12: 32). And those who look may, with John and the centurion on Calvary say: The one who speaks knows that it is true (John 19: 35) for truly this man was the Son of God. (Matthew 27: 54) 

The sacrilegious incident which took place several decades ago in Italy, continues to speak to the heart. We are quite aware, or perhaps not, that sadly incidents like the one mentioned above have been taking place more frequently around the world. What makes it worse is that they happen not only in non-Christian countries, but in Christian and even so-called Catholic countries. The Eucharist, a Sign of Contradiction (cfr Luke 2:34; Acts 28:22) for those who refuse or are unable because of their personal religious traditions, to acknowledge the Divine Presence, becomes a beacon of light that attracts all people in one way or another to listen to the words of Christ and respond. The response is as varied as those who approach it. The Eucharist is either a ‘mystery’ to be accepted and lived or just a ‘Catholic practice and/or superstition’ for others. Even those who do not believe as we regarding the Real Presence, still admire those who believe the impossible and live that belief. Those who consume the Lord in the Eucharist allow themselves to be consumed by Him so the two become one. It is this ‘oneness’ with Christ that manifests itself to others. Without necessarily understanding fully, they observe the effects the Eucharist produces in those who celebrate and receive with loving and living faith. 

Our pastors and all priests – priests and bishops – are called to make the Eucharist come alive by their life of dedication and commitment. The priest is called to be a Eucharist who nourishes his people with the very Lord with whom he nourishes himself. The priest, in persona Christ, celebrates the mystery of the Passion-Death-Resurrection of Christ. He offers the Christ he celebrates in the Eucharist to the faithful. By the grace of the Holy Spirit, both priest and faithful strive to grow into the full stature of Christ (Ephesians 4: 13) every day. The people are a source of spiritual nourishment for their priests. The holiness and sinfulness, joys and sorrows, successes and failures, faith and doubts, offer countless opportunities for the priests to offer the faithful the compassion and love of the Savior. Thus, the Eucharist that priest and faithful both share becomes an effective sign of Jesus’ Presence in their lives calling them to greater intimacy with their Lord and God (cfr John 20: 28). 

If the priest is not ‘Eucharistic’, how can we expect our people to become more than just traditionally and devotionally ‘aware’ of what (Who) they have been told the Blessed Sacrament is? If our priests do not show adoring love and reverence for the Mystery they have the responsibility and privilege of celebrating and offering, how can we expect the faithful to see beyond the signs of bread and wine? When we priests see ourselves in each celebration of the Eucharist as Christ re-presenting His Passion-Death-Resurrection and redeeming grace, the People of God participating in the celebration are taken up in and with the mystery. They too experience more clearly and profoundly their priestly role in the Sacrifice we offer and the Table we share. When the priest lives the Eucharist he celebrates, the people to whom he ministers notice the grace of the sacrament working in, with, and through him, and in, with, and through them. The people thus are enveloped by the effects of God’s love that comes to us through the Eucharist that makes all of us not simply bystanders but participants in this great and awesome Mystery of Redemption. 

Because of today’s society, the priest is often bogged down with administrative responsibilities and other ministerial duties over and above what would normally be asked and expected. It is in the Eucharist celebrated with attention and devotion that he once again can find the perspective from which to view all he is asked to do, as well as who he is asked to be. It is from the perspective of the Lamb of God Whose compassion is selfless, Whose giving is total even to death and death on a cross (Philippians 2: 8), Whose love is infinite in time and all-embracing, that every facet of priestly life, even the seemingly banal, makes sense and is eternally rewarding. Once the priest sees himself, with all his faults and sins, loved by Jesus, the Victim offered once for all on Calvary and repeatedly re-presented for all in the Eucharist in every Mass, his life is changed and so are the lives of those whom he serves. The Priest is Not His Own is the title of one of Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen’s books of many years ago. No truer words could ever be written! Until the priest lives for the other, he can never be the Other who sacrifices and offers “Life, the Living One” so that others may live. 

The priest becomes the Eucharist. He is weak, flawed, faulty, yet can be a most effective instrument of a life-giving flow of graces for those who participate in the “mysteries” of Word and Sacrament. They grow in the gifts of God according to their own cooperation with grace. They are empowered by the Sacrament to live the Jesus they receive. The light of Jesus thus shines through them, according to their collaboration with grace, in a world filled with so many shadows and dangerously blinding and alluring ‘lights’. 

Our Seraphic Father speaking to all says:  All those who saw the Lord Jesus Christ according to the humanity and did not see and believe…that He was the Son of God, were condemned. In like manner, all those who behold the Sacrament of the Body of Christ which is sanctified by the word of the Lord upon the altar by the hands of the priest in the form of bread and wine, and who do not see and believe according to the Spirit and Divinity that it is really the most holy Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, are condemned. This is affirmed by the Most High Himself Who says: This is My Body, and the Blood of the New Testament, and he that eats My Flesh and drinks My Blood has everlasting life.  Therefore, children, how long will you be hard of heart? (The Admonitions, 1) 

The Poverello of Assisi, whose deep love for the Sacred Presence of Christ in the Eucharist was a driving force in his life, reminds not only those who call him their spiritual father, but all Catholics, to revere this extraordinary gift of Christ’s Presence in the Eucharist. He had a personal and deep respect for the priest who confected the Eucharist at Mass and gave Christ to others.  Though he was never ordained a priest, God made St. Francis a sign of one called to be another Christ by imprinting the visible marks of the wounds of Christ on his body. He became an undeniable image to others of the mystery we are all called to celebrate, share, and become spiritually in our “Holy Communion” with Christ and one another in the Eucharist.   

Following St. Francis’ deep respect and love for the priest, we pray for all priests, that the Eucharist may be the Center of their lives, and the center of ours as well. We pray that Mary, Mother of the Eternal High Priest, may be a strength and support for all priests and all God’s children as Jesus asked of Her on Calvary when He presented John to Her saying Woman behold your son! and to John Behold your mother! (John 19: 26).  Mary is not only Mother of the ministerial priests, but also of the priestly people we become by Baptism.  Embracing Mary as Mother we are facilitated in seeing Jesus in the Eucharist and recognizing the True “Viaticum” (food for the journey) of life to Life. Let us pray for all the faithful, especially ourselves, that we may grow in our love for the Great Prisoner of the Tabernacle and find comfort and solace in the quiet moments we spend before Him, and in the community moments when we celebrate His love with the Eucharistic community-the Church. 

As we celebrate a month filled with reminders of our Heavenly Mother’s powerful and loving presence in our lives (Aug.2, Our Lady of the Angels; Aug.15, Our Lady’s Assumption; Aug.27, The Seven Joys of Mary-suppressed as a liturgical feast but very much alive in the hearts and devotions of most Franciscans), may God bless you; Our Lady, Virgin Made Church and good St. Joseph guide, guard, and protect you; and our Seraphic Father St. Francis of Assisi and Holy Mother St. Clare watch over each one of us, their Spiritual Children, with loving care. 

Peace and Blessings  

Fr. Francis A. Sariego, O.F.M. Cap.
Regional Spiritual Assistant 

Joe Pokorny, OFS, Hymnwriter from Padre Pio Fraternity

Hymn writer says little-known Marian apparition has a message for today

Are You Wasting Your Leftovers? by Lino Viola, OFS

Are You Wasting Your Leftovers?

To answer this question, we need to look at the readings from the 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time (July 25, 2021). In both the first reading (2 Kings 4:42- 44) and the Gospel (John 6: 1-15) we have different people assessing a situation where there is a scarcity of resources. Although the numbers to be fed vary greatly – 100 in the first reading versus 5000 plus in the Gospel – the results come about strictly in relying on God’s abundance. This abundance creates leftovers but before we address that let us look at how each person tries to deal with this situation.

In the first reading the servant objects at Elisha’s instruction to give the twenty barley loaves and fresh grain in the ear to the people to eat. He responds, “How can I set this before a hundred people?” He makes a mathematical evaluation and sees the scarcity of resources. Elisha, the man of God, insists saying, “Give it to the people to eat. For thus says the Lord, ‘They shall eat and there shall be some left over.’” His faith and reliance are on God. The servant did as he was told and the reading ends with, “And they ate, and had some left, according to the word of the Lord.” (2 Kgs 4:44)

In the Gospel, Jesus sees a large crowd coming to Him. He asks Philip, “Where can we buy enough food for them to eat?” Philip seems to be overwhelmed by how much it would cost to meagerly feed the crowd. Another disciple, Andrew, finds a boy in the crowd who has five barley loaves and two fish but again just like the servant of the first reading he looks at the scarcity of resources and says, “but what good are these for so many?”

The responses and reactions we have read of so far begs to ask ourselves, how do we see the world? Do we only see the scarcity or the Divine abundance? Do we make God part of the solution? Do we pray?

“Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed them.” They also had as much fish as they wanted. When they had their fill, Jesus told the disciples, “Gather the fragments left over, so that nothing will be wasted.”

The leftovers

Leftovers brought to memory the meals I would have with family, especially when my mom was alive, where I would not only be filled but I was sent home with leftovers. Do you know that some Italian dishes such as lasagna and eggplant parmesan are better the next day, when all the ingredients have had a chance to rest and form that perfect marriage between the pasta, cheeses, sauce and herbs.?

There were twelve baskets of leftovers in John’s Gospel, one for each of the twelve disciples. There are always leftovers when we get fed from God, especially at Mass. We have the Liturgy of the Word and the Eucharist. We are fed and leave the church filled by the Eucharist and we are to bring that excess to others we meet. Our sharing of what God has done in our lives with others is like sharing a piece of yesterday’s lasagna. It is all done out of God’s abundance and love for every one of us. Please do not waste the leftovers.

Couple heads back to the altar. This time as Franciscans.

Couple heads back to the altar, this time as Franciscans

July 2021 From the Heart of the Regional Minister

May the Lord give us the peace we need and crave!  July 2021…..who could ever imagine the year and a half we have been through? We have all had tremendous losses.  Many of our loved ones have passed and we could not say goodbye in a way that is familiar to us.   There have been family weddings, graduations, First Communions, milestone birthdays, Baptisms, holidays….either cancelled, postponed or celebrated in a downsized way.  Not our choice, not what we wanted. Now here we are with all that resentment and all that sadness bottled up and repressed.    It has been one, very long night in the Garden of Gethsemane.

So, what now?  The world is taking baby steps to open up again. Life is starting to return to …… what?  Will things ever return to what we think of as normal?  Don’t think so!  So what do we do now?  What we have always done.  Follow in the footsteps of Jesus.  He spent a lousy night in the Garden and now it is time to move on.  Was He relieved to get the whole terrible end of His life in motion?  Was He thinking, “Let’s just get on with it.”?  Maybe.  We won’t know that until we can ask Him in person. But this we do know….. even under all this stress, He remained kind.  He healed the ear of the soldier while still in the Garden.  Even in His own agony, He was concerned for His mother’s welfare.  He stopped to console the women of Jerusalem.  All while carrying His cross.

It’s not easy to follow in His footsteps. But it is what we are called to do.  Everyone is carrying a cross.  These days, the crosses have gotten heavier and harder to carry. So try being kind.

Like everyone else, I’ve had my cross to carry lately.  After a particularly hard time, my friend/mentor/spiritual helper said “I want you to buy yourself some flowers.”  I said I would.  But the day got away from me and suddenly it was 8:30 and dark.  Did I really want to get in the car and go buy flowers?  I got in the car anyway!  I went to the local ShopRite and the flowers are right inside the door.  There was a bunch of beautiful apricot carnations that were calling my name for $4.49.  Next to them was a bin of baby’s breath.  Also $4.49.  I put the two bunches in the baby seat and went on to pick up a few things while I was there.

There was a very attractive young African American couple going up and down the aisles at the same pace that I was.  I imagined they were on a date because of the beautiful way they were looking at each other.  They were joyful just to be in each other’s company.  After we had traveled several aisles together, the young man remarked that my flowers were very pretty and asked who I bought them for.  I told him I had been through a rough couple days and that I bought them for myself.  He then asked how much they cost.  By now I was talking to his lovely date and when I didn’t answer him right away, he reached over and turned the bunches around so he could see the price.  He said, “I want to buy those flowers for you”.  I laughed and said “Oh, go on!” and he said again, only more seriously, “I want to buy those flowers for you”.  I didn’t know this guy from Adam.  I protested, but he took a ten dollar bill out of his pocket and put it in my hand.  He closed my hand around it and said “I really want to do this for you.”  The events of the last few days and the kindness of this young man brought me to tears.  He and his young lady headed down the aisle while I stood there shaking my head in wonder. When they got to the end of the aisle, they turned and both of them said, “Have a good night”. And they were gone.

I wanted to go get on the PA system and tell the whole store about what had just happened. (No, I didn’t!)  But I spent the rest of the night in awe of the hug I had received from God through this kind young couple.

I’m not suggesting that you go buy flowers for someone. But, holding the door, saying good morning, helping someone get their groceries into the car are all acts of kindness that are a soothing balm that each of us needs right now.  The world is weary and hurting.  It is our calling to be kindness itself.  If Jesus could be kind on His way to Calvary, we can certainly do no less in our every day dealings with each other.

May God bless you abundantly so that you may bless others,

kate

July 2021 Thoughts for the Day by Father Francis Sariego, OFM Cap

July 2021

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 Anonymous of Perugia

The Anonymous of Perugia 

Chapter VIII 

HOW HE ORDERED THAT A CHAPTER BE HELD 

AND THE MATTERS TO BE TREATED AT THE CHAPTER 

 

On Pentecost all the brothers used to gather for a chapter near the church of Saint Mary of the Portiuncula. At the chapter they would discuss how they could better observe the Rule. They appointed brothers who would preach to the people throughout each of the provinces, and assigned brothers in their province. – Half the confusion in the world comes from not knowing how little we need

Saint Francis used to give the brothers admonitions, corrections and precepts, as it seemed best to him, after consulting the Lord. – God in heaven let me feel my nothingness to feel the greatness of your goodness. 

Everything, however, that he said in word, he would first, with eagerness and affection, show them in deed. – Why we do we say “Our Father” on Sunday and go around the rest of the week as orphans? 

He used to revere prelates and priests of the holy Church. He would respect the elderly, and honored the noble and the wealthy. He loved the poor intimately and showed compassion to them. In a word, he showed himself to be subject to all. – Look for the best in others and you will find the best in yourself. 

Although he was more exalted than all other brothers, he still appointed one of the brothers staying with him as his guardian and master. He humbly and devoutly obeyed him, in order to avoid any occasion of pride. – Little things and little moments are not really little. 

Among people this saint lowered his head even to the ground, and for this the Lord lifted him on high among the saints and elect in heaven. He zealously used to admonish them to observe the holy Gospel and the Rule conscientiously as they had promised; and especially to be reverent toward ecclesiastical offices and regulations; to be attentive and devoted when hearing Mass, and when they saw the Body of our Lord Jesus Christ. – When things seem at their worst, Christians must be at their best. 

They were to have reverence toward priests who handle these tremendous and greatest sacraments and, whenever they encountered them, they were to bow their heads to them and kiss their hands. – To transform the world we must first transform ourselves. 

He also admonished them not to judge or look down upon anyone, not even those who drink and eat and dress extravagantly, as stated in the Rule. “Their Lord is also our Lord. He who called us can call them, and He who willed to justify us can also justify them.” He would say: “And I wish to honor them as my brothers and masters. They are my brothers, because we are all from the one Creator; they are my masters because they help us to do penance, providing us with necessities of life.” – There is a hole in every heart that only God can fill. 

He also told them: “Let your way of life among the people be such that whoever sees or hears you will glorify and praise our heavenly Father.” His great desire was that he and his brothers would perform deeds through which the Lord would be praised. – We must fight what is wrong but do it in good humor. 

10 

He used to tell them: “As you announce peace with your mouth, make sure that you have greater peace in your hearts, thus no one will be provoked to anger or scandal because of you. Let everyone be drawn to peace and kindness through your peace and gentleness. – It is never the wrong time to do the right thing

11 

For we have been called to this: to cure the wounded, to bind up the broken, and to recall the erring. Many who seem to us members of the devil will yet be disciples of Christ.” – We must spend more time living our religion (charism) than arguing about it. 

12 

On the other hand, he used to reprove them for the great austerity which they brought upon their bodies, for the brothers were then exerting too much effort in fasts, vigils, and bodily mortification … When he heard and saw this, blessed Francis reprimanded them, as we said, and ordered them not to act excessively. – Carry your cross patiently and in the end it will carry you

13 

He was so filled with the Savior’s grace and wisdom, that he would make his admonition with kindness, his reprimand with reason, and his command with gentleness. Among the brothers assembled at chapter, not one of them dared to discuss worldly matters with anyone. Instead, they spoke about the lives of the holy fathers, or about the holiness of one of the brothers, or how they could better attain the grace of our Lord. – Kindness is loving people more than (we think) they deserve. 

14 

If any of the brothers gathered at chapter experienced temptations of the flesh or the world, or some other kind of trial, the temptations would go away either on hearing blessed Francis who would speak fervently and sweetly, or on seeing his presence. For he spoke to them compassionately, not as a judge, but as a father to his children and a doctor to his patient, so that, the words of the Apostle were fulfilled in him: Who is weak that I am not affected by it? Who is scandalized that I am not aflame with indignation? – Life can be understood backward but it must be lived forward

 

Chapter IX 

HOW THE BROTHERS WERE SENT THROUGHOUT 

ALL THE PROVINCES OF THE WORLD 

15 

Once a chapter had ended, he would bless all the brothers at chapter and designated each of them throughout the provinces, as he wished. Whoever of them had the spirit of God and the eloquence for preaching—cleric or lay—to him he would give permission and an obedience to preach. They received his blessing with great happiness and joy in the Lord Jesus Christ. – Repentance is altering one’s way of looking at life

16 

They went through the world as strangers and pilgrims, taking nothing for the journey, except the books in which they could say their Hours. Whenever they met a priest, whether rich or poor, they bowed to him, as blessed Francis had taught them, and paid their respect. When it was time to seek lodging, they preferred to stay with them, rather than with secular persons. – Repentance is taking God’s point of view and not my own

17 

When they could not find lodging with priests, they would inquire who in that locality was a good and God-fearing person with whom they could be more suitably welcomed. After a while, the Lord inspired one such God-fearing person in each of the cities and towns they were prepared to visit to prepare a lodging for them, until, after a while, they built their own dwellings in the cities and towns. – To be controlled by the Spirit results in life and peace

18 

The Lord gave the brothers the words and spirit suited to the time, to speak with incisive words, penetrating the hearts of many, but especially the young more than the elderly. Those who abandoned mother and father, and all their possessions, put on the habit of the holy religion. – Lighthouses blow no horns; they only shine

19 

At that time and particularly in that religion, the word of the Lord in the Gospel was fulfilled: Do not suppose that my mission on earth is to spread peace. My mission is to spread not peace, but division. I have come to set a man at odds with his father and a daughter with her mother. – It takes years for an overnight success. 

20 

Those whom the brothers accepted, they brought to the blessed Francis to invest them. In the same way, many women, virgins and those without husbands, hearing their preaching, would come to them with contrite hearts, saying: “And we, what are we to do? We cannot stay with you. So tell us what we can do to save our souls.” In response, they established, in every city they could, reclusive monasteries for doing penance. – We see things not as they are but as we are

21 

They also appointed one of the brothers their visitator and corrector.  Similarly, married men said: “We have wives who will not permit us to send them away. Teach us, therefore, the way that we can take more securely.” The brothers founded an order for them, called the Order of Penitents, and had it approved by the Supreme Pontiff. – In prayer it is better to have a heart without words than words without a heart

 

Chapter X 

WHEN THE CARDINALS BECAME KINDLY DISPOSED TOWARD THE BROTHERS 

AND BEGAN TO COUNSEL AND OFFER THEM ASSISTANCE 

22 

The venerable father, the Lord Cardinal, John of Saint Paul, who frequently offered counsel and protection to blessed Francis, would praise the merits and deeds of blessed Francis and all of his brothers to all the other cardinals. – Aspire to do the will of God: nothing more, nothing less, nothing else. 

23 

When they heard him, their hearts were moved to loving the brothers and each of them desired to have some brothers in his Curia, not for receiving service from them, but because of the devotion and love that they had toward the brothers. – People wait to see what we do about our religion (Franciscan charism) than what we say about it

24 

One day when blessed Francis came to the Curia, particular cardinals asked him for some brothers; and he graciously acceded to their request. – When good people do nothing, evil triumphs

25 

After this, the Lord inspired one of the cardinals, Hugolino, the bishop of Ostia, who loved blessed Francis and his brothers very much, not merely as a friend, but even more as a father. When blessed Francis heard of his reputation, he approached him. – Good leaders know, show and go the way

26 

When the cardinal saw him, he received him with joy and said: “I offer myself to you for counsel, assistance, and protection as you wish, and I want you to have me remembered in your prayers.” – True spiritual vision is the ability to see the invisible. 

27 

Blessed Francis gave thanks to the Most High for inspiring that man’s heart to offer advice, assistance, and protection, and told him: “I gladly want to have you as the father and lord of me and of all my brothers. And I want all my brothers to be bound to pray to the Lord for you.” – Build your lives on Jesus. 

28 

Then he invited him to come to the chapter of the brothers at Pentecost. He agreed and came each year. Whenever he came, all the brothers gathered at the chapter would go in procession to meet him. As they were coming, he would dismount from his horse and go on foot with the brothers to the church because of the devotion he had for them. – If you cannot find happiness on the way, do not think that you will find happiness at the end of the road. 

29 

Afterward he would preach to them and celebrate Mass during which blessed Francis would chant the Gospel. – One stands best who kneels the most.   

Chapter XI 

HOW THE CHURCH PROTECTED THE BROTHERS FROM PERSECUTORS 

30 

After eleven years had passed since the founding of the religion and the number of brothers had increased… They had endured many trials from clerics and laity and had been stripped by thieves, they returned to blessed Francis very embittered and depressed.   The brothers informed the Lord Cardinal of Ostia about these situations. Once he called blessed Francis to himself, he took him to the Lord Pope Honorius. After this happened and the brothers lived and preached there, many people, seeing their humble way of life, upright conduct, and their very pleasant words, came to the brothers and put on the habit of holy religion. – When we do what we can, God will do what we can’t

31 

Blessed Francis petitioned the Lord Pope for one of the cardinals who would be the governor, protector, and corrector of this religion, as stated in the Rule. And he granted him the Lord of Ostia…Seeing the trust and love that the Lord of Ostia had for the brothers, blessed Francis loved him from the depths of his heart, and when he would write to him, he would say: “To the venerable father in Christ, Bishop of the entire world.” After a short time had passed, the Lord of Ostia was elected to the Apostolic See, according to the prophecy of blessed Francis, and is called Pope Gregory the Ninth. – Only when we learn to see the invisible will we learn to do the impossible

 

July 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 

July 2021 

Dear Sisters and Brothers in St. Francis, 

The Lord give you his peace! 

There is a practice which seems to have originated at the beginning of the first centuries of Christianity.  When a bishop who desired to express communion and solidarity with another bishop, he would break a particle of the Eucharist consecrated at the celebration over which he presided and send (“missa est” that is “it is sent”) that particle of the Eucharist to the other bishop.  The precious Consecrated Bread was placed together with the Consecrated Wine.  The Sacramental Signs of the Real Presence of the Body and Blood of Jesus, sharing in the common bond of faith in the Eucharistic re-presentation of the Paschal Mystery celebrated by the Church, was shared as the real and lasting intimacy of all the People of God forming the Mystical Body of Christ, in His Body and Blood. What a beautiful and powerful practice! 

It was called the gift of the “fermentum”. The word “fermentum” probably referred to the Eucharist as the “leaven” of the Christian life, and as the instrument by which Christians spread throughout the world were united in the one Body and Blood of Christ as a “leaven” in the world. The receiving bishop would then consume the particle sent to him during the next celebration of the Eucharist of which he presided, as a sign of the communion between the churches.  

It has been many centuries since this practice has unfortunately fallen out of practice. The sign of our unity is the Eucharist. The Divine Presence always among us encourages us, especially in the trying times, to share the “fermentum”. We believe in Jesus and His Promise fulfilled to remain with you always until the end of the age (Matthew 28: 20) in the Eucharist. We are bonded in His Body and Blood as a family in God. We are redeemed in the saving Body and Blood of Jesus offered once on Calvary and re-presented through the centuries in the celebration of the “Fractio Panis” (“Breaking of  Bread”). Through the Eucharist we become a “leaven” in the world. We become the living Mystical Body of Jesus. In the Eucharist we accept to be the bread broken and shared among ourselves as a communion in the Blood of Christ. 

In the common bond of our celebration, participation, and consumption of the Eucharist, we share the “fermentum” and become the “fermentum” of unity, peace, and concord with one another and all creation. The sharing, begun among ourselves, must inevitably prepare us to be kneaded into the daily Body of Christ among ourselves and in our world. We begin the process and slowly add the elements outside ourselves that they too may become the daily bread “overshadowed” by the Holy Spirit to become the mystical Bread of Life.  

The love and extreme devotion our Seraphic Father had for the Eucharist is undeniable. He emphasized the essential importance of the Eucharist in the life of the Lesser Brothers, the Penitents of Assisi. He wanted the friars to reserve, revere, and preserve anything that is part of or can be used for the Eucharistic Sacrament. This may seem at first sight to be an exaggerated eccentricity. No way! Our Seraphic Father had a profound awareness and love and devotion for the Sacrament of the Eucharist, as well as for those who “confected” the sacrament by their priestly ordination. Even the possible personal sinfulness of the priest did not keep St. Francis from kissing their hands in thanksgiving for their Eucharistic ministry. 

The Mystery of Christ’s Passion-Death-Resurrection is once again presented for our reflection during the month of July, traditionally dedicated to the honor of the Most Precious Blood of Jesus. That Blood, poured once for all to redeem humanity as was the blood of the spotless lambs poured out over and over again in ancient times for the People of Israel, urges our hearts to remember, celebrate and believe the Paschal Mystery that every person who bears the name of Christ is called to enter and live. 

The whole person of Jesus, as the Christ, Incarnate Son of God, is pledged to the mission of redemption entrusted to Him by the Father. His total surrender to the Father’s Will transforms the cross of hatred, into a sign of love, and the body of Christ dying in agony, into a sign of life. We live in times that seek the easy way out. We want to sidetrack the Cross, and still have life make sense and be fulfilling. It just does not happen that way for people of faith! 

World events alone, as well as events in our own neighborhoods and cities, all too often remind us of humanity’s inhumanity to its own kind. Our lives tell us that no one is totally free from difficulties, sufferings, tragedies, death. We encounter Christ and see His glorified wounds with the eyes of our hearts. We touch the wounds of His hands, feet and side, the immortal signs of His selfless love for us, in the daily experiences of life. It is becoming that “fermentum” we share as an effective remembrance of our unity in the Blood of Christ, that the secret of the Paschal Mystery’s life-giving grace becomes evident and effective in/with/for us.

The Savior’s Blood that flowed from the Cross is a sign of the totality of His selfless Sacrifice. Our Seraphic Father entered ever more deeply into this profound mystery so that what he prayed and reflected upon became impressed indelibly on his body. His “fermentum” in sharing physically as well as mystically in the Blood of Jesus reminded others of the totality of the selfless surrender he had made in response to the Father’s invitation to share in the Mystery of His Son. He invited others to share in this “leaven” of the Body and Blood of Christ. Sharing, others could become with him a united presence of Christ in the world. We Franciscans are invited, in fact called, to follow the example and share our hearts as “fermentum” with the uniting strength of our Gospel Fraternity.  

The world searches for meaning, direction and true fulfillment of its deepest desires. Like the belligerent adolescent who finally becomes a conscientious young adult, today’s society seems to be searching for those spiritual values that for so long were forgotten or ignored by many. Franciscans, by vocation to Gospel fraternity, are called to eliminate all that separates us from each other. We are called to heal the brokenness around and within us by becoming, one for the other, “wounded healers”. 

Life finds meaning in the Cross of Jesus. We realize that in the Father’s eyes we are worth the death of His own Son. Through His death, we are offered unending Life. The Blood of Jesus indicates the direction our lives should take. It points the way to the One Who calls us from the earth in which we live to the Life on high we have been promised, a life worth any sacrifice. There is an unimaginable sense of fulfillment for those who take on the challenge to die to themselves and their distorted egos each day. We “allow” God to be alive in us making life worth living and heaven a promise fulfilled progressively each day. 

The Precious Blood of Our Savior is a reminder of that life-giving element that flows mystically in the veins of all God’s children through the Eucharist. Sharing the gift of the Eucharist we, like the bishops mentioned above, offer one another the gift of ourselves in Christ. We are the living “fermentum” called to unity in the peace of Christ. The Savior takes on a nature that will eventually betray His Love (the symbol of His Sacred Heart) and destroy His life (the symbol of His Precious Blood). To some these spiritual images may seem somewhat macabre reminders of death. For the Christian, they are signs of the Infinite Love expressed in the life of Jesus.   

Are you willing to share the Eucharist you receive with others? Are you willing to share the Eucharist you are supposed to become with each Communion received as a united act of love for any and all of God’s children, with special regard for our own sisters and brothers without exception, in other words “without gloss”? Is the Blood of Christ shed in His Passion and Death just a ritualistic celebration with no lasting transforming effect in you?  Have we, who pride ourselves on being called Franciscans and that is spiritual children of St. Francis of Assisi, truly sought to follow the example of the Poverello by sharing the Eucharist we become, that is ourselves, with all, or only the select few?  As a Eucharistic fraternity – and we are! – do we strive to live the Paschal Mystery of Christ, in one mind and heart as the “fermentum” we are called to be in this divided and violent world? The response will determine how true we are to the Spirit Who calls us to Life as a ”fermentum” that leavens the dough of our life to become a “real presence” of the Mystical Christ in our midst. Our honest response will indicate the direction and integrity of our Catholic Faith and Franciscan Profession.  

May Mary, Mother of the Redeemer, intercede for us, Her children, and encourage us not to fear but to embrace the Cross of Her Son. The Cross is our Anchor of Salvation. The Cross-anchor gives stability to lives often caught up in the troublesome waters of the sea of life.  

In your fraternal charity let us keep each other in prayer. May God bless all of you, Our Lady and good St. Joseph guide, guard and protect you, and our Seraphic Father St. Francis of Assisi look upon all of us, his Spiritual Children, with loving care. 

Peace and Blessings 

Fr. Francis A. Sariego, OFM Cap 

Regional Spiritual Assistant 

 

 

 

 

 

Thought for the Day – June 2021 – Father Francis Sariego, OFM Cap

June 2021  

All-powerful, most holy, Almighty and supreme God, 

Holy and just Father, Lord King of heaven and earth 

we thank You for Yourself, for through Your holy will 

and through Your only Son with the holy Spirit 

You have created everything spiritual and corporal 

… making us in Your own image and likeness,… 

We thank You… 

Daily excerpts from the Anonymous of Perugia 

Thought after each Franciscan excerpt from various spiritual writers 

Chapter VI 

THE BROTHERS’ MANNER OF LIVING 

AND THE LOVE THEY HAD FOR ONE ANOTHER 

1

Each time they saw one another, the brothers were filled with such delight and spiritual joy that they forgot all the adversity and the extreme poverty they had suffered. – Sometimes we desire to be good angels and forget to be good people.

2

One day, two brothers were walking along a road when suddenly a simpleton began throwing stones at them. One of them, seeing that a stone was about to strike his brother, ran directly in front of him. Because of ardent mutual love, he preferred that the stone strike him rather than his brother. They frequently did these and similar things. – Our imperfections will accompany us to the end.

3

They were rooted and founded in love and humility, and one would respect the other as if he were his master. Whoever among them excelled because of a position or gifts of grace, seemed even more humble and self-effacing than the others. – Be content with walking with your feet on the ground living the reality of each day with trust.

4

They all dedicated themselves wholeheartedly to obedience. Whatever they were ordered, they considered to be to the Lord’s will. Thus it was pleasant and easy for them to fulfill everything. –  The next life will be all that we could ever desire or imagine and more…it is GOD!

5

If one unwittingly uttered a word that could possibly give offense to another, his conscience reproached him so much that he could find no peace until he confessed his fault. – The most beautiful act of faith is when one must make an effort to do so. 

6

And so they strove to combat each vice with a corresponding virtue. Whatever they had, a book or a tunic, was used in common and no one called anything his own, just as it was done in the primitive church of the Apostles. – Rest assured and be happy that God is pleased to find a peaceful dwelling in you.

7

When they went along and came upon poor people begging from them, some of the brothers would give them some of their clothing, since they had nothing else to give. One of them even tore the capuche from his tunic and gave it to a poor beggar; while another tore off a sleeve and gave it away; and still others gave away a part of their tunic to observe that Gospel passage: Give to all who ask of you. – Temptations, discomfort, and restlessness are the merchandise offered by the enemy, so reject them.

8

One day a poor man came to the church of Saint Mary of the Portiuncula where the brothers were staying and asked for alms. There was a cloak there that one of them had while he was still in the world. Blessed Francis told the brother, whose cloak it was, to give it to the poor man. He freely and quickly gave it to him. – When the devil makes noise around you, he is still not within. Be at peace.

9

And immediately, because of the reverence and dedication that the brother had in donating the gift, it seemed to him that the alms rose up to heaven and he felt himself filled with a new spirit. – No matter how great the trial, do not lose heart.

10

When the rich of this world went out of their way to visit them, they received them quickly and kindly, and would invite them to call them back from evil, and prompt them to do penance. At that time, the brothers would eagerly beg not to be sent to where they had been raised so that, in this way, they would avoid association and dealings with their relatives and observe the words of the Prophet: I have become an outcast to my brothers, a stranger to my mother’s sons. – Lift up your voice loudly to Jesus.

11

They rejoiced most in their poverty, for they desired no riches except those of eternity. They never possessed gold or silver, and, although they despised all wealth of this world, it was money especially that they trampled underfoot. – God’s power triumphs over everything.

12

One day while the brothers were staying at Saint Mary of the Portiuncula, some people came for a visit. They entered the church and placed some money on the altar without their knowledge. Then, one of the brothers, entering the church, took the coins he had found, and put them on the church’s windowsill. Another brother, when he found the money where the other one left it, took it to Saint Francis. – Humble and suffering prayer prevails over God Himself. 

13

When blessed Francis heard this, he diligently asked which one of the brothers had placed the money there. When he found out who it was, he ordered him to come to him. “Why did you do this?” he said. “Didn’t you know that I want the brothers not only to avoid using money, but also not even to touch it?” When the brother heard this, he bowed his head, confessed his fault on his knees, and asked that a penance be given him. – Live humbly.

14

Then Francis admonished the brothers that whenever they found money, they should scorn it and consider it worthless. They were constantly rejoicing, for they had nothing that could disturb them. The more they were separated from the world, the more were they united to God. – Do not be upset over your infirmities or weaknesses but humbly and frankly bring them to God.

15

These men entered upon a narrow and rough trail. They broke up the rocks, trampled upon the thorns, and so have left us, their followers, a smooth path. – God sustains us when we fall and cares for those who trust in Him.

 

Chapter VII 

HOW THEY TRAVELED TO ROME AND 

HOW THE LORD POPE GRANTED THEM A RULE 

AND THE OFFICE OF PREACHING 

 

16

As he realized that the Savior’s grace was increasing his brothers in number and merit, blessed Francis told them: “Brothers, I see that the Lord intends to make of us a large congregation. Therefore, let us go to our mother, the Roman Church, and inform the Supreme Pontiff about what the Lord is doing through us so we may continue doing what we have begun by his will and command.” – Thank God for treating you as a soul chosen to follow Jesus.

17

He took the twelve with him, and they went to Rome. While they were on the way, he told them: “Let us make one of us the leader and consider him the vicar of Jesus Christ for us. Wherever he wants to go, we will go; when he wants to rest, we will rest.” They chose Brother Bernard, who was the first to be received by the blessed Francis, and they did as he said. – Be patient with yourself.

18

They made their way rejoicing and spoke about the words of the Lord. No one dared to say anything unless it pertained to the Lord’s praise and glory or to the benefit of their souls, and they spent time in the Lord. – Live tranquilly and follow the path on which the Lord has placed you, and in a holy manner.

19

When they arrived in Rome, they met the bishop of the city of Assisi who was then staying in the City. When he saw them, he welcomed them with immense joy. Now, the bishop was acquainted with one of the cardinals, the Lord John of St. Paul, a good and religious man, who loved servants of the Lord very much. – Remember that the mind can be quite well elevated to God while the body takes care of material matters.

20

The bishop of Assisi familiarized him with the proposal and life of blessed Francis and his brothers. After he heard these things, he had a strong desire to meet blessed Francis and some of the brothers. When he heard that they were in the City, he sent for them and had them come to him. Seeing them, he welcomed them with eagerness and love. – Do what you can and are supposed to do and Jesus, who sees the heart, will be pleased with you.

21

Even though they stayed with him for only a few days, he came to love them from the depths of his heart, because he saw shining forth in their actions all he had heard about them. He told blessed Francis: “I commend myself to your prayers and, from now on, I want you to consider me as one of your brothers. Therefore, tell me, why did you come?” – The Holy Spirit does not work in all souls in the same way. He blows as and where He wills.

22

Then blessed Francis made known to him his whole proposal: how he wanted to speak to the Apostolic Lord and, with his approval and mandate, to continue what he was doing. To which the cardinal responded: “I want to be your procurator at the Curia of the Lord Pope.” Thus it was that he went to the Curia and told the Lord Pope Innocent the Third: “I found a most perfect man who wishes to live according to the form of the holy Gospel and to observe evangelical perfection. Through him, I believe the Lord intends to renew His church in the entire world.” When he heard this, the Lord Pope was amazed and told him: “Bring him to me.” – Keep faithful to prayer even in challenging moments.

23

Blessed Francis laid his whole proposal before the Lord Pope, just as he had previously done to the cardinal. The Lord Pope answered him: “Your life is too hard and severe, if you wish to found a congregation possessing nothing in this world. For where will you obtain the necessities of life?” – Lift up your heart in the face of trials. God is with you.

24

Blessed Francis responded: “My Lord, I trust in my Lord Jesus Christ. Since He has promised to give us life and glory in heaven, He will not deprive us of our bodily necessities when we need them on earth.”  The pope replied, “human nature is weak and never remains in the same state. But, go and pray to the Lord with all your heart, so that He may show you what is better and more beneficial for your souls. Come back and tell me and I will then grant it.” – Jesus comforts and sustains us in all our afflictions and trials.

25

Francis withdrew to pray. With a pure heart, he prayed to the Lord that in His ineffable piety He would reveal this to him. While he was engaged in prayer, with his whole heart focused on the Lord, the word of the Lord came into his heart and spoke to him figuratively. – Be assured of the presence of the Holy Spirit Who comforts and directs those who trust in Him.

26

“There lived in the realm of a great king a very poor but beautiful woman, who caught the king’s eye and by whom he fathered many sons. The king told her: ‘Do not be afraid of your dire poverty, nor of the sons you have, and the many you will have. If the many hired hands in my house have their fill of food, I certainly do not want my own sons to die of hunger. No, I want them to have even more than the others.’” –  The providence of God knows no limits. The little we give lovingly is multiplied beyond imagining.

27

The man of God, Francis, immediately understood that the poor woman symbolized him. As a result, the man of God strengthened his resolve to observe most holy poverty in the future. Getting up at that very hour, he went to the Apostolic Lord, and told him all that the Lord had revealed to him. – Passions like temptations need our consent to determine whether we fall into sin or grow in grace.

28

On hearing this, the Lord Pope was greatly amazed that the Lord had revealed His will to so simple a man. And he realized that he was not proceeding according to human wisdom, but in the display and power of the Spirit. Then blessed Francis bowed down and humbly and devotedly promised obedience and reverence to the Lord Pope. And the other brothers, because they had not yet promised obedience, likewise promised obedience and reverence to blessed Francis according to the precept of the Lord Pope. – If fear surprises you, call out: Oh, Lord, save me!

29

The Lord Pope approved the rule for him and his brothers, both present and future.  He also gave him authority to preach everywhere as the grace of the Holy Spirit was given him and that the other brothers were also to preach, provided that blessed Francis gave them the office of preaching. From then on, blessed Francis began preaching to the people in the cities and villages, as the Spirit of the Lord revealed to him. – Hold tightly onto the hand of the Lord and confidently walk on the stormy sea of life.

30

The Lord placed in his mouth uncompromising, honey-flowing, and very sweet words, so that hardly anyone ever tired of listening to him. Because of his great love for the Brother, that cardinal had all twelve of them given the tonsure. Afterwards, Blessed Francis ordered that a chapter be held twice a year, on Pentecost and on the feast of Saint Michael in the month of September. –  Keep imprinted on your soul that God is our Father. So why fear if you are a child of such a Father?