Is God calling you to walk in the footsteps
of Saint Francis of Assisi?

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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.

A local group of Secular Franciscans is probably meeting near you. Please use this map to locate your closest fraternity or feel free to contact one of the members of our Regional Executive Council who will be happy to put you in touch with a Fraternity near you.

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All local Secular Franciscan fraternities in the United States are organized into one of 30 regions. The Saint Katharine Drexel Region includes parts of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware. There are currently 27 local fraternities in the region. We are under the patronage of St. Katharine Drexel, who was a Secular Franciscan and whose feast we celebrate on March 3rd.

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From the Heart of our Minister - June 2017

Some of you have heard about my friend Christy.  We have been penpals for more than 30 years.  We have shared much laughter and many tears in those letters and grew to love each other as sisters.  Christy is serving a sentence of life plus 25 which was handed down when she was 17.  I started writing to her a few years later.  She is now in her 40’s and has spent more than half her life in prison.  Last year I was able to go see her at the Iowa Correctional Institute for Women.  It was a brutal schedule for me – I was making the trip there and back in one day.

God smiled on the entire day, but there is one moment that stays with me more than most.  Joining us during the visit was a woman named Ivey.  She had been Christy’s cell mate when my husband was first diagnosed with cancer.  Ivey sent cards and letters to us, offering her prayers and support.  She was released from prison three years ago, but we have stayed in touch.

You are only permitted to take two items into the prison during a visit.  One is your picture ID, which is held by the guards until you leave, and the other is change for the vending machines.  Ivey arrived clutching a Ziploc bag stuffed with change.  I must admit here, if I met up with Ivey on a dark street, I would have made it a point to keep my distance.  To my shame, she seemed to fit what my idea of a woman prisoner looks like.

When we decided to get something to eat from the machines, I intended to empty my bag of change and pay for everyone.  Ivey had other plans.  “Whatever you want, Miss Kate, I’m going to treat you”.  No, no…I couldn’t let her do that.  After all….I was in a better position to pay than she is,   I have a better life than she does.  I am….better????  Shame on me again.

The lesson is – sometimes you are the servant and sometimes you need to be served.  Ivey was so proud that she was buying a meal for me.  We feasted on a banquet of junk food and every mouthful was delightful.  Ivey’s face shone with pleasure.  As for me…along with those potato chips, I was eating a good portion of humble pie.

P.S., After more than 32 years in prison, Christy will be walking out the door of that prison on Monday, June 5. Her release has been many years in the making with enough ups and downs to give you a whiplash!  Imagine being isolated for all these years and then suddenly being free in this world…..this world! She will truly be an alien in an alien land. I would be so grateful if you could say a prayer or two for her.

Save

From the Heart of our Minister, May 2017

Last week I was blessed to attend the Memorial Mass for Vince Peroni.  Vince was the husband of our dear sister, Madge Peroni, OFS. The Mass was held in St. Anthony’s church which is a beautiful, beautiful building that is filled with peace.

Over the main altar are the phrases:  The Lord is here + He is calling you.  Sorry – the picture isn’t the best, but it at least gives you an idea.  Sitting before Mass and gazing at these words, I knew I wanted to write about them this month. They were speaking to my heart.

The Lord is here.  We believe in the presence of God everywhere. I believe it, too.  But, seeing those words rising high about the tabernacle just meant so much more.  The Lord is here.  Yes, God is everywhere, but this is His home. He is here.  We share a meal with Him here. We come to visit Him here and we take away that love that we get from spending time with a beloved family member. We walk out feeling cherished and cared for.  Is God getting the same vibe back from us???  Do we walk into Mass thinking…..I hope this doesn’t go any longer than an hour…I have things to do. What was the Gospel reading today?  I dunno…..I was making the grocery list in my head at that time. Hmmm, how can we really be living from Life to Gospel and from Gospel to Life if we can’t give it some attention while it is being proclaimed?!

The second phrase….He is calling you…really struck a chord with me.  It doesn’t read…He has called you, or He will call you but – He…is…calling…you.

He calls you with the joy you experience when you hear from someone who means a great deal to you. He calls you with the patience that says, I know you haven’t answered Me in awhile, but I’m still calling.  He stays in touch, even when we don’t. He is calling when we have had a bad day and he is calling when we have had a really great day!

When God is calling, we need to make sure He isn’t getting a busy signal! God bless you all!

 

 

Thoughts from our Regional Formation Director, May 2017

Brothers and Sisters,

Many of us when speaking about love can take it as life giving or not. Although it we celebrated that day months ago, it is still amazing that we seem to think alike on that special day called “Valentine’s Day.  We convince ourselves that candy, flowers presents and dining are the essentials to love someone and use this event for a promise to be married. These are certainly ways of showing love and affection but we know there is only one true love that will never die and He loves us before we were ever formed.

Just to share a funny little story:

I remember my first Valentine’s Day I was in first grade. Want to laugh??  I received about ten bubble gum rings and from another a chocolate heart. Very cute at that time.

However Franciscan spirituality is centered around one simple fact. God is love.

Pope Pius Xll describe Franciscan spirituality this way: ‘There is, then, a Franciscan doctrine in accordance with which God is holy, is great, and above all, is good indeed the Supreme Good. For in this doctrine, God is love. He lives by love, creates for love, becomes flesh and redeems, that is, he saves and makes holy, for love. There is also a way of contemplating Jesus…in His human love.

The great emphasis then is on the fact that God is love. Every Christian believes this, of course, but some choose to emphasize it as Francis did

To live the Gospel according to the spirit of Francis means participating in communion with Christ poor and crucified, in the love of God.

In brother and sisterhood with all people and all of creation, in life and mission of the Church, in continual conversion, in a life of prayer-liturgical, personal, communal as instruments of peace.

Let us not forget St. Francis’ love for Mary our Mother.  It was shown in his prayers and how he lived his life. He used Mary as a model for how he could follow Jesus.

There were two major prayers he wrote The Salutation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the second prayer that Francis wrote about Mary is the Antiphon from the Office of the Passion.

Let us pray for all Mothers during the month of May; for the mothers to be and those who have gone before us.

IF you chose to you may use the following,

Ongoing Formation:

Questions for Reflection Read: The Testament St. Francis of Assisi

What is your image of God?

What is unique about Franciscan spirituality?

Why does Francis’s way attract you?

May the Lord give you His peace!!

Reflections from Father Francis, May 2017

May 2017

Hail, O Lady, holy Queen, you are the virgin made church

and the one chosen by the most holy Father in heaven

whom He consecrated with His most holy beloved Son

and with the Holy Spirit the Paraclete,

in whom there was and is all the fullness of grace and every good.

Hail, His Palace! Hail, His, Tabernacle! Hail, His Home!

Hail, His Robe! Hail, His Servant!  Hail, His Mother!

And hail all you holy virtues which through the grace and light of the Holy Spirit

are poured into the hearts of the faithful so that from

their faithless state you may make them faithful to God.

(Salutation of the Blessed Virgin)

 

Following are excerpts taken from various Franciscan writings

Daily meditative phrases from various sources

1

It was not that he was a man who prayed, than he himself was a living prayer. (2 Celano,chpt.95) – Abraham hoped everything would stay put, but he left everything and everyone on God’s word and traveled into the unknown.

2

His sure harbor was prayer not for a moment, … but profoundly devout, humble and prolonged as much as possible.  If he began at night, with difficulty he ended his prayer in the morning. (1 Celano,chpt.71) – Like Abraham, we are sustained by not simply a promise, but by the Promise of God which was fleshed out in Jesus.

3

Often, almost daily, he withdrew secretly to pray.  He was inclined to do so by that same tenderness he had tasted  earlier, which now visited him ever more frequently, driving him to prayer in the piazza and in other public places. (Three Companions,chpt.3) – Moses longed to see his dreams completed and stopped short of the land he was allowed to see but not enter.

4

Francis … totally unaware of earthly desires through love of Christ, and strove to keep his spirit present to God by praying without ceasing lest he be without them consolation of the Beloved. (Major Legend,chpt.10) – It was enough for Moses to be given evidence of the future to die fulfilled and in peace.

5

The man of God gathered with his companions … they spent their time praying incessantly, directing their efforts mentally rather than vocally to devoted prayers, because they did have liturgical books from which to chant the canonical hours. (Major Legend,chpt.4) – Joseph, in spite of the rough breaks he had experienced since being sold by his brothers, refused to quit.

6

Let all the brothers always strive to exert themselves in doing good works … Servants of God, therefore, must always apply themselves to prayer or some good work. (Earlier Rule,chpt.7) – God intends you to be the person on whom He has cvonferred a unique ‘personhood’. God has committed Himself to you…agree to do the same to Him.

7

Let us always make a home and a dwelling place for Him Who is the Lord God Almighty, father, Son and Holy Spirit, Who says: Be vigilant at all times and pray that you have the strength to escape the tribulations that are imminent … When you stand to pray say: Our Father in heaven. (Earlier Rule,chpt.22) – David wanted to build a monument to God but had to prepare the material for another to build.

8

Those brothers to whom the Lord has given the grace of working may work faithfully and devotedly so that, while avoiding idleness, the enemy of the soul, they do not extinguish the Spirit of holy prayer and devotion to which all temporal things must contribute. (Later Rule,chpt.5) – You who are meant to be part of God’s family, are one of the community of the Crucified One; you too must crucify self and forget ego trips…Trust Him!

9

I admonish and exhort the brothers in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ to … pay attention to what they must desire above all else: to have the Spirit of the Lord and Its holy activity, to pray always to Him with a pure heart, to have humility and patience in persecution and infirmity. (Later Rule,chpt.10) – Elijah was so demoralized he wanted to give up, but God knew the inner strength of Elijah and gave him a firm ‘no’.

10

I am pleased that you teach sacred theology to the brothers providing that, as is contained in the Rule, you do not extinguish the Spirit of prayer and devotion, during study of this kind. (Letter to St. Anthony) – There is no permanent retirement for a Christian, only temporary respites from time to time to rest and reequip.

11

Francis used to say that, because of the office of prelacy or of zeal for preaching, they should not abandon holy and devout prayer, going for alms. Working at times with their hands, and performing other humble tasks like the other brothers, for good example and for the benefit of their souls, as well as others. (Mirror,chpt.73) – Jonah tried to run away from God’s Will and acceptance of his responsibilities, but he couldn’t run from God.

12

He said that (ministers of the word of God) were heralds chosen by a great king…For he used to say: The preacher must first secretly draw in by prayer what he later pours out in sacred preaching; he must first of all grow warm on the inside, or he will speak frozen words on the outside.  (2Celano,chpt.122) – God still replies in the negative to those who claim a special relationship, but try to escape from responsibilities, or fall into a narrow, self-centered outlook.

13

(Description of General Minister) … He must be a committed friend of holy prayer, who can distribute some hours for his soul and others for the flock entrusted to him … (2Celano,chpt.139) – Job questioned God and demanded answers, but God gave him no answers; His questions were more profound and penetrating.

14

They never or hardly ever stopped praying and praising God…They gave thanks to God for the good done…They would have thought themselves abandoned by God if they did not experience in their ordinary prayers that they were constantly visited by the spirit of devotion. (1Celano,chpt.15) – We present-day Jobs also are promised God’s sufficiency. He gives more than answers … He shares His life with us.

15

They were so devoted to prayer that there was no hour of the night that someone could not be found at prayer in the oratory. (Thomas Eccleston,#27) – The God who has committed Himself to us insists on a like-minded commitment.

16

The brothers at that time begged him to teach them how to pray, because, walking in simplicity of spirit, up to that time they did not know … (1Celano,chpt.17) – The ‘covenanting’ God has given His word to us that He will not desert us.  That promise has been sealed in blood – literally!

17

He implored divine clemency to show him what he had to do. (Major Legend,chpt.1) – The cross has been so sentimentalized by so many generations of songwriters and preachers that it no longer has any sting.

18

He had recourse to prayer that he might insistently implore what the will of God was regarding some specific matter. (Major Legend,1) – You have been given the gift of living and dying just one death. You may lay down your e energies, your time, and your goods for others, or you may stockpile self until it crushes you.

19

Fasting and weeping, he earnestly prayed for the savior’s mercy, and lacking confidence in his own efforts, he cast his care upon the Lord. (1Celano,chpt.5) – Time does not necessarily heal all wounds; sometimes it merely covers them with scar tissue.

20

Foreseeing the great things that God would do through him and his Order … he was calling and praying to God that, by his mercy and omnipotence, without which human frailty can do nothing, he should supply, help, and fulfill that which he could not do by himself. (Little Flowers,chpt.2) – Jesus has called ‘friend’ the one we would label ‘enemy’; He pronounces themm subjects of concern rather than objects of contempt.

21

Francis said: Wait for me a bit, because I first want to pray to God that He make our journey fruitful, that Christ, by virtue of His most holy passion, be pleased to give us poor and weak men this noble prey that we’re planning to take from the world. (Little Flowers,chpt.37) – Peter tried to bury his guilt of denial and grief of lose in work; he couldn’t forget or conceal in activity his ‘failure’.

22

He saw St. Francis devoutly at prayer before Christ, who had appeared to him during that prayer and was in front of him … he saw Francis lifted up bodily from the earth.  Because of this he was touched by God and inspired to leave the world … (Little Flowers,chpt.37) – The Resurrection is God’s mighty ‘no’ to depression and death.

23

He never ceased crying out to God with humble prayers and fervent affection, that God would protect the Order and grant salvation to all the friars, present and future. (Angelo Clareno) – A beggar pleaded for a handout and was given a hand up. God gives us His gifts that we may learn to help ourselves.

24

As blessed Francis got up, he joined his hands and, lifting his eyes to heaven, said: Lord, I give back to You the family which until now you have entrusted to me… (2Celano,chpt.104) – We carry the name ‘Christian’ and stand strong in its meaning.

25

Once while his vicar was holding a chapter, he was praying in his cell, as the go-between and mediator between his brothers and God. (Major Legend,chpt.11) – Paul begged for healing and was given a thorn in the flesh, and an reminder that ‘my strength is sufficient’.

26

After I resigned my office among the brothers because of my illnesses … I am not bound at all except to pray for the religion and to show good example… the greatest help I can render to the religion is to spend time everyday in prayer to the Lord for it.  (Mirror,#81) – St.Teresa: Lord when you will cease to strew our path with obstacles? And the Lord: Don’t complain, this is how I treat my friends.  St.Teresa: Dear Lord, that is why You have so few.

27

The abbot of the monastery of San Giustino…happened to meet Saint Francis…he humbly asked him to pray for him, and Saint Francis replied: My Lord, I will willingly pray… when the abbot had ridden away, he said to the brother with him: Wait for me a little while, brother, for I want to pay the debt I promised. (2Celano,chpt.117) – There is a certain enjoyment of unpleasant places when the challenges they offer help us to grow.

28

A pilgrim while in the body, away from the Lord, Francis, man of God, strove to keep himself present in spirit to heaven…With all his soul he thirsted for his Christ…We will tell…about the wonders of his prayer, things that we have seen with our own eyes. (2Celano,chpt.61) – The all-powerful Lord turns even the causes of our curses into good.

29

He found (Greccio) rich in poverty and there, in a remote little cell on a cliff, he could give himself freely yo heavenly things.  (2Celano,chpt.7) – Jesus is not a ‘departed hero’, a ‘deceased leader’, but the living Lord, Who does not leave us to fend for ourselves.

30

Brother Body should be cared for with discernment…so it won’t get weary keeping vigil and staying fervently at prayer. (2Celano,chpt.92) – At the time when the outlook seems most bleak and pessimistic, God frequently opens new doors.  Sometimes, God seemingly allows roadblocks because He has bigger plans for us.

31

When he returned from his private prayers, in which he was changed almost into a different man, he tried his best to resemble the others, lest, if he appeared glowing, the breeze of favor might cancel what he had gained. (2Celano,chpt.65) – ‘Help’ signals often are hard to pick up. God, however, patiently waits for us to be sensitive enough to detect those signs and signals from others.

 

 

 

Greetings from Father Francis, May 2017

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

May 2017

Dear Sisters and Brothers in St. Francis,

The Risen Christ bless you with His peace!

The Middle Ages was a time of wonderful monuments built to the glory of God.  Many of them were dedicated to the Great Mother of God, our Blessed Mother. The devotion of the people and the great saints of the Church saw Mary as the Virgin Mother who gave birth not only to the Christ, but as the Mother of the Christian and thus the Church as well.  St. Francis of Assisi was among these great ‘lovers of Mary’.   His own Salutation of the Blessed Virgin gives proof of the depth of his awareness of Mary’s place in our Salvation History and the honor with which he personally held Her in his life. She is the virgin made church whose faith and openness to the will of the Father encourage us to abandon ourselves to so great a God and His most holy will.

 

One of the most joyous anthems of the Church is the Regina Coeli. Too few of us know it as a prayer in the home, but many of us recall it as the Eastertime noonday prayer of our Catholic school days. There is a story about this anthem that gives it greater meaning. In a fearful pestilence Our Lady’s portrait reputedly painted by St. Luke was being carried in a procession which included Pope St. Gregory the Great. As they approached St. Peter’s Basilica, the air became pure and free of pestilence. At the bridge which joins Rome to the Vatican, angels were heard singing above the picture: “O Queen of heaven, rejoice, Alleluia! for He whom you deserved to bear, Alleluia! has risen as He said, Alleluia.” When the heavenly music had ceased, St. Gregory added, “O pray to God for us, Alleluia,” and raising his eyes to heaven, saw the destroying angel sheathing his sword where he stood atop the monument of Hadrian’s Tomb. On the top of the building the Pope later erected an immense statue of the angel, his sword in the scabbard. And to this day the structure considered Hadrian’s Tomb is called the Castle of Sant’ Angelo.

 

Just as our Seraphic Father sought to honor Mary in his life, how could we allow this most sacred time of our Christian calendar to go by without thinking of that simple Virgin of Nazareth. Mary’s cooperation with the Father’s Will accepted the work of the Holy Spirit to ‘overshadow’ Her and thus gave us Jesus, the Messiah, our Savior and Redeemer.  Infinitely less than God but eminently greater than all humanity, Mary stands above us, yet always journeys with us. We are Her children entrusted to Her by Jesus as She stood at the foot of the Cross.  The ‘Woman’, praised in the first Book of Sacred Scripture, who gave birth to the Christ, is the same ‘Woman’ who gave birth to the Christian as the Church was born from the open side of Her Son as He hung on the Cross for all humankind.  From that moment, Mary, the virgin made church,  watches us with a mother’s eye, intercedes for us with a mother’s concern, and embraces us with a mother’s love. All humanity appeals to Mary as the ‘highest honor of our race’.  Saint Francis saw Mary always in this light. Mary is Mother of the Church, because Mother of the Christ, since She is Daughter of the Father, Mother of the Son and Spouse of the Holy Spirit. Her life was an intimate relationship immersed in the reality of the Most Holy Trinity.  Totally human, Mary was privileged to reach the heights of holiness ahead of time, through the merits of Her Son’s redeeming Passion-Death-Resurrection.  Thus, She might be forever a sign of the greatness and holiness to which all God’s children are called.

 

Mary’s presence, prominence, and popularity, even among those not of the Catholic/Orthodox expressions of Christianity, are indicative of the yearning of the human heart to be loved. After the Marriage Feast at Cana, our Heavenly Mother takes a silent place in the Gospels.  We meet Her again at the foot of the Cross and then in the Upper Room awaiting the Promised Gift of the Holy Spirit on the Early Church. Not until St. John writes of the ‘Woman about to give birth’ assailed by the ‘dragon’ in the Book of Revelation do we meet ‘the Woman’ again in Scripture, and for the last time.  The Church has always seen the image of the ‘Woman’ of Sacred Scripture as the image of Mary. Our love and devotion for Mary has kept Her always alive in our hearts.  She is the one to whom so many of us run with our joys and sorrows, successes and failures, hopes and fears.  She is the one most Catholics will defend when Her name and honor are being attacked. We speak of Her as we do of Her Son.  The Real Presence of Jesus in the Sacrament is equaled by no one and nothing in this world.  Nonetheless, we often speak of Mary as another ‘presence’ that accompanies us in such a way that with Her in our hearts and minds we move forward confidently, trusting Her to be ‘really’ with us with Her love and motherly intercession. Saint Francis praised Her as Palace, Tabernacle, Home, Mother, in his Salutation of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  Mary offers Jesus the space and place through which He makes Himself present among us and for us.  Saint Francis is so simple, yet so profound!

 

What was celebrated in sign, Mary bore in Her heart and mind with a depth and reality that no one ever could or ever will be able to equal. She not only received Her Lord in the Eucharist – Her Son, Savior (yes, ‘Savior’, because She was sanctified and freed of Original Sin ahead of time in Her Immaculate Conception, but had to be redeemed nonetheless), and God – but also maintained such an intimacy with Jesus by grace upon grace, that we can lovingly and devotedly say that heaven walked with Her wherever She went. To see Mary was to see a glimpse of heaven upon earth. Isn’t that what happens to us – or at least should – when we receive Jesus in the Eucharist?  When we allow the Sacred Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of the Savior to enter our humanity and become one with us in an intimate and sacramental manner, aren’t we doing just as Our Blessed Mother did so many centuries ago?  We ‘give birth in faith to Christ’ as St. Augustine reminds us.  This faith and its challenges, at Communion time, must be embraced, energized, and empowered to manifest itself in the life of the one who receives the Eucharistic Lord.

 

In his Admonitions, our Seraphic Father writes: All those who see the sacrament sanctified by the words of the Lord upon the altar at the hands of the priest in the form of bread and wine…believe according to the Spirit and the Divinity that it is truly the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ.  It is the Spirit of the Lord, therefore, That lives in Its faithful, That receives the Body and Blood of the Lord.  Behold, each day He humbles Himself as when He came from His royal throne into the Virgin’s womb; each day He comes to us, appearing humbly; each day He comes down from the bosom of the Father upon the altar in the hands of the priest.  As He revealed Himself to the holy apostles in true flesh, so He reveals Himself to us now in sacred bread. And in this way the Lord is always with His faithful, as He Himself says: ‘I am with you until the end of the age’.

 

How powerful and profound is this intimate love between the human and the Divine!  When we encounter individuals who are deeply in love, that love can be seen in their demeanor.  Ask them about their love, though, and they seem embarrassed to respond.  The intimacy true love reaches in hearts and souls ‘in love’ can only be experienced, never exhaustively explained. It can be seen in its effects but not really ‘dissected’ in explanations. Love is of God, and true love is a mystery to which all are called. Love must be lived to be experienced, and once experienced it must be loved to be lived fully. The ‘virtuous circle’ of love consists in this: the more we love, the more we know love and are capable of loving. The Eucharist we receive at the moment of Holy Communion – our ‘sacred bonding’ with Jesus – offers us the opportunity to enter the Love of God in Jesus. We allow His Holy Spirit to ‘overshadow’ our lives with grace. Just as Mary was filled with the Holy Spirit and became the Mother of God, so we have the possibility to be filled with the gifts of the Holy Spirit according to our cooperation with grace, and thus we ‘give birth to Christ in our hearts’.  Even the ‘eccentricity’ of Saint Francis of Assisi can most often be attributed to his relationship with the Christ Who was so real to him in prayer and particularly in the Eucharist, that his very behavior became uninhibited. The joy of that one-ness with Christ let him forget all human respect, just as King David danced with abandon before the Ark being brought into the City of David.

 

The millennial continuation of the Real Presence of Our Savior among us around the world depends upon the consecration of the sacramental signs of bread and wine. This is accomplished through the ministry of those men called and ordained to the priesthood. The faithful share in this priesthood through Baptism. In the Eucharistic Sacrifice they accept to participate actively in the mystery of the Life-Passion-Death-Resurrection-Glorification of Jesus.  They acknowledge their belief in the Sacrifice offered and strengthen the unity of the Mystical Body of Christ in their Holy Communion worthily received.  They, like the priest, are called to let the Sacred Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of the Savior enter their lives and flow through every fibre of their being, thus enlivening their faith and filling their hearts with inexpressible inner joy and peace – the effects of the Eternal Love that possesses them.  How many of us can really say we allow that to happen?  How many of us ‘feel’ the effects of their Holy Communion, and like Saint Francis, feel a real change in attitude that even affects our demeanor? Some may even consider the expressions used above exaggerated, unreal, poetic, or of another era!  We find difficulty expressing the depth of the love we experience in the Eucharist, often because we do not give ourselves the time and silence to allow the Sacred Guest to speak to our hearts, that we might ‘feel’ it.  We are always in such a hurry.  How many good Catholics run out of Church as soon as they have ‘devoutly’ received Communion?!  The brief period after Communion, before the Last Prayer-Blessing-Dismissal, is an awesome moment, and a necessary one for us to allow the Truth Whom we have received, to lead us on the One Who is the Way, as He nourishes us with Himself and strengthens us on our journey to Eternal Life.

 

One of our Third Order brothers, Don Bosco, great saint of the nineteenth century, was known for his ‘dreams’.  His dreams, visions, and prophecies concerning the Church are quite revealing.  Among them he speaks of seeing the Church as a ship, with the Holy Father at the helm, steering it through severe weather on rough and stormy seas.  The ship moves to a safe harbor as it is directed between two columns. The Eucharist is atop of one and Our Lady is atop of the other.  The Eucharist and Mary are the strengths (the ‘columns’) of our Catholic Christian faith.  Mary leads us to Jesus.  Mother of the Most Blessed Sacrament, First ‘True’ Tabernacle, First Monstrance, She indicates the way. Let us follow Her example and invoke Her prayers and protection in the ancient Easter Marian Anthem that reminds us of the severe plague that subsided at Her intercession.  The Church and the world need the intercession of the Mother of all Humanity to abate the plague of anti-Catholic, anti-Christian, anti-God campaigns that afflict the world today. May we witness Her almighty intercession with the Eternal Father.  We rejoice and are glad for the Lord is truly risen, and we sing our ‘Alleluia’, ahead of time, for a God Who renews the joy of our youth, as we acclaim Our Mother, the virgin made church.

Queen of heaven rejoice, Alleluia,
For the Son Whom you merited to bear, Alleluia.
Has risen as He said, Alleluia.
Pray to God for us, Alleuia.
Rejoice and be glad, O Virgin Mary, Alleuia,
For the Lord is truly risen, Alleuia.

May the Risen Lord Jesus shower you and your loved ones with peace, joy and abundant blessings for a continued Happy Easter time; may Mary, Mother of the Redeemer and our Mother, help you to live with Jesus in the light of the New Life His Resurrection offers each one of us; and may our Seraphic Father St. Francis of Assisi watch over each one of you, his Spiritual Children, with loving care.

 

Peace and Blessings

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

Regional Spiritual Assistant

 

Thoughts from our Formation Director - April 2017

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

This article comes to you while we all still in the season of Lent. I do hope your journey through the remainder of Lent and through Holy Week will bring Easter Joy and many blessings to each and every one.

I would like to share with you at this time the prayer I have been using during lent. When we get to Holy week I will be using The Geste of the Great King OFFICE OF THE PASSION OF FRANCIS OF ASSISI. It was written by Laurant Gallant OFM and Andre’ Cirino OFM

When reading please take time to reflect and to apply it to our lives as Franciscans:

Holy One who journeys with me on the road of life with its hills and valleys.

May I recognize the daily cross that is mine and carry this burden in a trustful way, confident that the undesired parts of my life can be guides to my spiritual growth.

Teach me how to be with my personality traits that I consider unworthy or unacceptable.

Inspire me to release my tight grip when I wrestle with the resistant part of myself that insists on having everything in life turn out the way I desire or demand.

Increase my awareness of the false judgements and unfair expectations that quickly arise to crowd out kindness and compassion for myself and others.

Lessen unrestrained fears and wearisome worries that keep us imprisoned in turmoil and confusion and, thus, lessen my spirits strength and courage.

Soften any hardness of heart I have toward another. Increase my ability to be understanding. Help me topple the walls that prevent my being a forgiving person.

Expand my perception of the good things my life already holds. Decrease apprehension about not having enough, doing enough, or growing enough. Awaken the undying song of hope in my soul as I carry my unwanted cross each day, so that even in the worst of times I continue to trust you to provide for what is needed.

Confident of your grace and daily empowerment, I give myself to you as fully as I am able at this time. As I carry the burden that is mine, remind me often that you are always with me and never against me. I rest my desire for union with you and into your loving care, Amen

Blessings to all at Easter.

Peace and Joy,
Rose

From the Regional Minister - April 2017

Will I give Him my best?

When I was a young girl many, many years ago Easter was given so much more significance than it is now. Even though Spring Cleaning had just occurred, the house was still scrubbed from top to bottom, curtains starched and ironed.  The dining room table was set with the real cloth tablecloth and Mom’s best dishes. Even the card table for the kids looked better than most any other day. The house even smelled like Easter….all those lilies and hyacinths.

We all had new outfits – “from the skin out” as my mother always said.  New socks, new dress, new maryjanes, new hat and gloves were ready for Sunday morning Mass.  We didn’t even see our Easter baskets until we got home from Mass.  Meeting the Risen Lord in the finest we had to wear came first.  As we knelt before Mass, we would silently tell Jesus how successful …or not….we had been trying to make sacrifices for Him during Lent.

How very different it is these days. No hat, no gloves. No scrubbing, no starching. We don’t do the external preparation for Easter as we used to.  More importantly, are we doing internal preparation?  What do we have to give Our Lord on Easter morning?  Have we cleaned something up within ourselves?  Have we added something that would please Him?

There are a few weeks left before the glory of Easter is upon us.  There is still time to prepare to greet the Risen Lord and may He look at us on Easter morning and see that we bring our best just for Him.

Father Francis' Reflections - April 2017

Our Father most holy: Our Creator, Redeemer, Consoler, and Savior…

You, Lord, are Supreme Good, the eternal Good, from Whom all good comes…

Holy be your Name…That You may rule in us through Your grace…

Your will be done…that we may love You…with our whole heart…soul…and mind…

Give us this day…Your own beloved Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.

Forgive us…through Your ineffable mercy…and make us, Lord, forgive completely.

And lead us not into temptation. But deliver us from evil.

Amen

 

Following are daily excerpts taken from various Franciscan writings

Daily meditative phrases from various sources

1

Once there was a great war between the citizens of Perugia and Assisi. Francis was captured … and …endured the squalor of prison.  His fellow captives were overcome with sadness … but Francis rejoiced in the Lord. (2Celano,bk.1,chpt.1) – Anyone can stand up to an opponent: give me someone who can stand up to a friend.

2

Though staying in a pit and in darkness, he was imbued with an indescribable happiness never before experienced. (1 Celano,bk.1,chpt.5) – I may have all the faith needed to move mountains, but if I have no love, I am nothing.

3

He rose therefore swift, energetic and joyful, carrying the shield of faith for the Lord, and strengthened with the armor of great confidence, he set out for the city. (1Celano,bk.1,chpt.5) – We get no deeper into Christ than we allow him to get in us. » Click to continue reading “Father Francis’ Reflections – April 2017” »

Father Francis' Greetings - April 2017

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 skdregion.org
email: pppgusa@gmail.com

Dear Sisters and Brothers in St. Francis,
The Risen Christ bless you with His peace!

The season of Easter is saturated with Peace.  It is a time for us to enter the Joy of the Risen Jesus and realize that our God is alive and well. We see in the few chapters that end the Gospel accounts a transforming experience for all the first followers of the Lord.  It was an inner transformation, for as yet they were fearful of the Jews, but joy-filled at the sight of the Savior.  No doubt some may have thought that ‘now He will re-establish Israel’, ‘now He will manifest Himself to the world and conquer our dominators’, ‘now the sinners and sinful nations will be put down and Israel will reign as the righteous nation’.  As childish as this manner of thinking may seem, I do not doubt that some, if not all the disciples, may have had similar thoughts or feelings. All we need do is remember what the concern was on the road to Jerusalem as Jesus spoke of His pending capture- torture-death…and resurrection; the apostles were talking about who would be first and powerful in the kingdom, and who would reign on the right and left with Jesus. » Click to continue reading “Father Francis’ Greetings – April 2017” »

Summer Session in Loretto – July 6 – 9, 2017

“Multiculturalism and Diversity: Who is My Neighbor?”

This Summer Session is open to all who would like to attend. Check out the attached flyer for more information on this great opportunity to spend a few days with Seculars from across the country and participate in this timely topic. Seminar flyer 2017