'FOLLOW ME!'
Luke 9:23

Published for

The BROTHERS AND SISTERS OF PENANCE

Butterfly Symbol

of
          St. Francis

December 2003

FROM THE WRITINGS ON ST. FRANCIS:

St. Francis image
St. Francis once said regarding a nobleman he had met: “That gentleman would certainly make a good member of our Order: he is so grateful to God, so kind to his neighbor, so generous to the poor, and so cheerful and courteous to guests. For, dear Brother, courtesy is one of the qualities of God, who courteously gives His sun and His rain and everything to the just and to the unjust. And courtesy is a sister of charity. It extinguishes hatred and keeps love alive. And because I have observed so much divine virtue in this good man, I would be glad to have him as a companion. Therefore, I wish that we go back to him some day, in case God might perhaps touch his heart so that he should want to join us in serving the Almighty. Let us pray the Lord God to infuse that desire into his heart and to give him the grace to put it into effect.”
It certainly is wonderful that a few days later, after the Saint had prayed, the Lord granted the desire of his heart and did not deprive him of what he had prayed for. For a few days after he had uttered the prayer, St. Francis said to his companion: “Dear Brother, let’s go to the courteous nobleman, because I have a sure confidence in God that with his generosity in temporal things he will give himself to our Order as a companion.”
And, taking that road they approached the house of the above mentioned man. But before they came to him, St. Francis said to his companions: “Wait a while for me, as first I want to ask God to make our journey successful, so that Christ may deign, through the merits of His most holy Passion, to grant us poor weak ones the noble prey whom we are thinking of snatching from the world.”
And after saying that, St. Francis began to pray very fervently in a certain place where he could clearly be seen by that courteous nobleman.
So...when that nobleman clearly perceived all these things, the hand of the saving Lord quickly came over him, and he was so touched at heart by God and inspired to scorn and leave the world...that man said to St. Francis “My Holy Father, what do you command me to do? At your order I am ready to give everything I have to the poor and to run after Christ with you, unburdened by temporal things.”

LITTLE FLOWERS OF ST. FRANCIS –1330

COMMENTARY:

We are to be courteous to all, like the nobleman. In it our love is reflected, and we should not hold grudges. These we cannot take to God. In our courteousness we are God-like. It is what St. Francis saw in the nobleman. It is what He said was the very nature of God. Both to the just, and the un-just, and to those who do us injustice.
Through prayer, and only with prayer, did St. Francis discern God’s will. We need to be like that. Whatever it is we are doing or seeking, we need first to bury it in prayer. And continue to do so until we are certain, as St. Francis always sought to be, that the Lord had heard our prayer and that what happened in any situation was therefore God’s will. His will is both permissive and creative. Our sin is clearly permitted by Him. He alone can draw good from such evil, usually in spite of us. There is never sin in what He creates. He is good, all good, and only good.

Blessed be the Lord!

Bruce Fahey, Minister
MINISTER’S MESSAGE: Let's close the door...

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Thanksgiving morning, I offered an hour of contemplative prayer asking the Lord what needs to be done between the BSP and CFP to bring peace. My prayer time was very peaceful and just before the alarm sounded to end the hour, I experienced a dream in which I was walking along and ‘BANG! , I hit my head on the corner of a cabinet door that was open. I even felt it physically! I was sure this was the Lord’s answer to my question. I meditated upon this for sometime after my contemplative prayer time was over and realized that the Lord was saying it is time for closure and to close the door. This is also confirmation of the advice both Father Valerius Messerich O.F.M., our original Visitor, and our current Visitor, Fr. Corey Belden of St. Michael’s parish, have given us, not to have any further communication with the leaders of the CFP and to let them go their way. Thank you Lord!

We, in the BSP of St. Francis, have real cause for thanksgiving! We recently received written confirmation from the Archdiocese here that the Brothers and Sisters of Penance of St. Francis will be included in the Official Catholic Directory! This national directory provides us tax-free, non-profit, group-exempt status for all of our chapters and members anywhere in the country, under the umbrella of the Catholic Church. We have presented this proof of tax-exempt status to the CFP leaders, who are now releasing our BSP cash and assets to us. These will be used to build a stronger Association. We were included in the Official Catholic Directory thanks to our great relationship with the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. The BSP actually came into being here with the blessing of Archbishop Flynn in 1996. He took the first pledges of local members in January of this year himself.

So, let us all move on in our lives for Christ. Let us all keep everyone in both Associations in our prayers. May the Lord’s Peace be with us all!

We are making progress on the Web site. It is one of our greatest resources. This past week we posted the Statutes to the Web site, with the approval of our Visitor. We will soon post the entire four-year Formation program there. And, thanks to the dedication of our Webmaster, Anna Ferroni, you will see that many of the original documents given the world by St. Francis are now going up in different languages on our Web site. In time we may even have complete Web sites in different languages.

We will start formation programs as members come on stream once they complete the Inquiry period. Our next formation program begins in January with several new members, including some from the SFO. We have asked several local ministers of the SFO to serve on our Council, and with their help we plan on re-engineering our approach to Third Orders. You will hear more on this later, but there is one thing we can report.

“Honorary,” a new level of membership has been approved by our visitor. Principally these will be members who either have or wish to profess in a Third Order but also wish to be members of the Brothers and Sisters of Penance without losing their status as Third Order members. Honorary membership entitles one to full participation in Association activities, forums, events, meetings, etc. Information on this membership level will be available on the Web site in the Constitutions of the Association as it unfolds. We hope to address this in an article in the newsletter at greater depth next month. Questions on this should be directed to the current BSP Administrators, Bruce or Shelley Fahey, at
minncc@aol.com.

In January we will begin our review of the Rule as part of the newsletter.

Grace, peace, and love to all living the Rule of 1221, as we go on with our work for the Lord.

Bruce Fahey BSP
Minister

Paul Beery
NO GREATER LOVE: by PAUL BEERY

The goal of life is to love, and be loved. But the secret, as John the Apostle tells us, is that God has first loved us (I John 4; 10). So it could be stated more correctly, that our goal is HOW TO RESPOND to so great a love that has been lavished upon us through no merit of our own.

How can we possibly make an adequate return to God for this gift of love, of divine, eternal love? Jesus tells us in Mark 12; 30 to: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your might.” Analyze what that statement really means. If we love God with all our heart and soul, all our strength and might, what could possibly be left for self? Experiencing what it’s like to be “in love” with another person, my wife Donna, I have some idea of how all-encompassing this First and Greatest Commandment is meant to be. God, after all, is the Source of love, the Source of our very existence. Everything we have is from God. How can we respond to such great love?

My father was an inventor. I learned from him how to look upon the world from an inventor’s point of view, or in this case, from the Creator’s point of view. As the work of His hands, we are to be as an instrument, ready to fulfill the purpose for which we were created. “You are not your own; you have been bought and paid for. So glorify God in your body.” (I Cor. 6, 20) And Paul the Apostle tells us in a nutshell how to do that in the first two verses of Romans, chapter 12, every word pregnant with meaning:
“I appeal to you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a LIVING SACRIFICE, HOLY, and ACCEPTABLE to God, which is your SPIRITUAL WORSHIP. DO NOT BE CONFORMED TO THIS WORLD, but be TRANSFORMED by the renewal of your mind, that you may KNOW what is THE WILL OF GOD, what is GOOD, and PLEASING, and PERFECT (in His sight).”

This short version of the Gospel tells us how to respond to the Love of God. I hope to share with you in the coming months some reflections on the Word of God, that we may grow to become Christ-like. Our role model will be St. Francis of Assisi, perhaps the most Christ-like Saint that ever lived. I hope to show what it means to live our faith so as to “Not be conformed to this world.” Above all, amidst all the vicissitudes of life, I hope to keep the focus on the “One Thing Necessary:” to sit at the feet of Jesus, with Mary, and realize that, indeed, there is No Greater Love than the Love of God.

Paul Beery SFO

(Paul and his wife Donna are both pledged-for-a-year members of the BSP in Minnesota.)

Karen Aramanda
Karen is a new member from Mississippi

FROM: Karen Aramanda

ODE TO BROTHER DOG

OH, DEAR BROTHER DOG,
IT’S AMAZING TO SEE,
JUST LIKE ST. FRANCIS,
YOUR POPULARITY.

HE ONCE HAD FINE CLOTHES,
AND MONEY TO BOOT,
BUT THAT DEAR ST. FRANCIS,
DIDN’T GIVE A HOOT.

FOR JESUS HE GAVE,
UP ALL THAT HE HAD,
AND STIRRED UP IN HEARTS,
THAT IT WASN’T SO BAD.

HE WAS FOLLOWED FOR GOD,
AND HE STILL DOES ACCRUE,
THOUGH SO SMALL AND SO ODD,
HE REMINDS ME OF YOU!

Karen's Dog
Brother Dog!

YOU’RE NOT A PUREBRED,
WITH YOUR PAPERS TO SHOW,
YOU WERE LEFT AT THE POUND,
WITH NOWHERE TO GO.

YET, ALL THIS ATTENTION,
IS GIVEN TO YOU,
ONCE ST. FRANCIS TOOK PITY,
AND LED US TO RESCUE.

YOUR POPULARITY HAS GROWN,
WITH EACH PASSING YEAR,
FONDNESS IN HEARTS YOU HAVE SOWN,
AS YOU BRING PEOPLE CHEER!

LOVE, YOUR “MOM”
KAREN (11-04-03)

ALL ABOUT THINGS… Carla Barth—Novice 3—Lesson 8

WE SHOULD ALL: “ inventory our belongings and sell or give away those things that we do not use or need. This shows that our treasure is to be in Heaven where we hope and pray to be one day. If you keep an object long enough and do not use it, it will wear down or will not run properly. We as humans can become pack-rats and of course, when you have a lot of stuff, you of course run out of room to store things. Then you will need a bigger home to store more, so it is a ruthless cycle that you can avoid if you live a simple life-style, to have only enough to get by with enough clothing to protect you from the elements, the bare furniture that supplies for you and your family needs. No fancy modes of transportation when you have a good vehicle. Even when you budget your expenses for food, etc. you can find ways to save money for savings/for illness and also to place a bigger alms into the church collection basket, the soup kitchen fund and a missionary cause that you favor.”

THANK YOU CARLA!

FRANCISCAN SAINTS: St. Peter of Betancurt

Peter of Betancurt is the first Saint of Tenerife (Canary Islands) and Guatemala. He was canonized by Pope John Paul II on July 30, 2002, during his visit to Guatemala.
Peter was born in Vilaflor, Dioceses of Tenerife, in the Canary Islands, in 1626. His family was poor. At age 24 he left his family and went to America to be a lay missionary. He spent a year in Cuba, then he went to Honduras, and finally to Guatemala. Here he began to attend a Jesuit school to become a priest, but he was not gifted for the study, and left.
In 1665 he decided to consecrate self to God in the (Secular) Franciscan Third Order. He pledged, and thereafter dedicated all his life to living a Franciscan spirituality. He was a man of prayer, profoundly devoted to contemplate the mysteries of Christ’s life. Through contemplating the sufferings of Christ, begun in Bethlehem and continued unto the Cross, and prolonged in the Eucharist, Peter developed an attitude of reparation for sin, a deep love for penance, a willingness to suffer with the suffering Christ.
In Guatemala, Peter was surrounded by poor indigenes with many needs. In 1658 he bough a little house and established an Oratory dedicated to Our Lady, a hospice for the homeless, a hospital, and a school for the children. Anthony Rodriguez, a Secular Franciscan tertiary, joined Peter in 1661. This was the first seed of a new religious order, which is now called the Brothers and Sisters of Bethlehem.
Peter died on April 25, 1667, being only 41 years old. One month after his death the Church approved the Constitutions of the Brothers of Bethlehem, the first religious Order founded in America.

John Paul II described Peter this way in his homily for the canonization: “Already in the land of his birth, as in every phase of his life, Brother Pedro was a deeply prayerful man, especially here where, at the hermitage of Calvary, he diligently sought God’s will at every moment. Brother Pedro modelled his spirituality in this way, particularly in contemplation of the mysteries of Bethlehem and of the Cross. If, in the birth and childhood of Jesus, he immersed himself deeply in the fundamental event of the Incarnation of the Word — which led him to discover spontaneously, as it were, the face of God in man — then, in meditating on the Cross, he found the strength to practise mercy heroically with the lowliest and the most deprived. Pedro de Betancurt was distinguished precisely by the humble spirit and austere life with which he practised mercy. He was truly a brother to all who lived in misfortune and gave himself with tenderness and immense love to their salvation.”

Anna Ferroni—Turin, Italy

FROM THE WEB: The Pelianito Journals: http://www3.telus.net/pelianito/

Enter into His Love: "Be at peace my child. You worry about so many things but only one is needed. Concentrate your prayers and energy on me alone. I will handle everything else. When you worry it is as if you doubt my goodness or my power.
" Father, good and powerful perfect Father, forgive me! "

Child rest in me and be at peace. This life has trials aplenty, but rest secure knowing that you are in the palm of my hand. Again I say, child be at peace. This often involves an act of the will. Submit your will to mine. Let not the cares of the day tempt you to despair. Walk each step with me in the present. Be present to me and with me. To dwell too much on future problems robs you of your present joy. Live child, live with me now, here, today! Live with me in joy one moment at a time for all eternity!" Amen!

Enter into the Word: Psalm 98: (Rejoice) 9 before the LORD who comes, who comes to govern the earth, to govern the world with justice and the peoples with fairness. Come Lord Jesus! "My little child fear not. My coming has been foretold from of old. It has been pre-ordained since before the world was formed. All these things you see happening are but shadows which will pass.

The prince of the world is on a rampage, sowing seeds of hate, destruction and anarchy. But do not fear. His time is limited. The King of Glory comes! The people rejoices! Do not live in fear, but in true joy, the joy worthy of a beloved child of God." My Father I love you, I trust you. I surrender myself joyfully to your loving perfect will for me and mine.

Jesus I trust in you! Have mercy on us all. Sustain us as we wait in joyful hope for the coming of our Saviour Jesus Christ.

Explore the Word: Matthew 24:30; 2 Corinthians 4:3, 4; Revelation 12:12; Psalm 24:7-10

Winnie Spencer-Dealy
THE FOUNDATION OF OUR RULE
Winnie Spencer-dealy

When the Rule and the Statutes are read, one can easily see how much time is to be devoted to prayer. In addition to praying Psalms 51, 54, and 119:1-32, we also are to pray Morning, Evening and Night Prayer from the Divine Office. And in addition to that, we are to choose one of five options to complete our prayer schedule. This can be as lengthy as praying the whole Office, praying twenty decades of the Rosary, praying Our Father's and Glory Be's or praying the Psalms, spending our time in mental prayer, or as simple as lifting our minds and hearts to God. We also have the option of using the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary, or the Office of the Passion. We have many options for prayer, and the Statutes strive to make it easy for us to pray. Prayer should foster growth in our life, and should enhance our daily duties. It is to be a source of strength for us.

Prayer is heart to heart communication with God, our Creator. It is united in Love with the Holy Spirit. We are not alone in prayer, for Jesus, Mary, and all the Saints pray with us. When we pray the Divine Office, we pray with the whole of God's people, the Church. We praise and adore God, give Him thanks, ask for forgiveness of our sins, and recommend our loved ones to Him. We can feel free to ask Him for anything, and of course, thank Him for the many blessings He has given us so far. We should never give up prayer, even in periods of dryness, for if we persevere, we are sure to be rewarded. Oftentimes prayer can seem tedious, but it is never without merit of some sort. Many of the Saints went through a "dark night" as St. John of the Cross described, but they continued in prayer with strength, and great were the graces they were given!

We must remember that Mass has been called "the greatest prayer". We should not only attend Mass weekly, but even daily if possible. Even daily Mass once or twice a week is better than naught. In the Mass we are united again with the whole of God's people, and we receive the greatest graces when we are present at Mass. We must also not forget that the Lord Himself taught us how to pray. The Lords Prayer should be the blueprint for many of our prayers. We should also remember that short, spontaneous prayers are also very appropriate. "Lord, I believe, help my unbelief!" has been a favorite prayer of mine as of late.

Prayer is both speaking and listening, so our prayer time should include periods of silence. Sometimes silence is hard to achieve at first, but starting with short periods and lengthening them is the key to achieving silence. We will probably face many distractions in prayer, but as I have said before, perseverance is the key. Let us keep on keeping on!

The foundation of our Rule is prayer. We are to pray much, that we may love much. Let us continue on as we have been doing, and do more if we are able. Let us examine our lives to see where we can add more prayer. For prayer is not an activity that has no reward. Every bit of time we devote to prayer merits grace, and we can be sure that God answers all prayer. If you feel you are not praying enough, take a look at your daily activities, and see where you can fit more prayer in. Don't forget to pray for your priests and bishops, and of course, the BSP. Post your prayer requests in the Prayer Forums on the website, and add your own spontaneous prayers as well. Be assured that the BSP prays with you, and for you!
May God answer in His glorious way, all our prayers! I remain your humble servant,

Winnie

Shelley Fahey, Messenger
IN OUR HISTORY: A reply to an Inquirer...

Dear Inquirer,

The address which you have written to is the Brothers and Sisters of Penance of St. Francis. Our web site is located at
www.bspenance.org. May I take a moment to explain as simply as I can an answer to your question.

Our Association began building it's foundation in the late 1980s within the Secular Franciscan Order. We have been through many stages of growth to reach the status that we are now. The Stella Matutina Movement, the Franciscan Brothers and Sisters of Penance (FBSP), the Brothers and Sisters of Penance (BSP) and since September of this year we are the Brothers and Sisters of Penance of St. Francis (BSP of St. Francis.)

The motion of the Holy Spirit has been a driving force for all that we have accomplished in building this Association.

  • We have been blessed with the spiritual guidance of Fr. Valerius Messerich O. F. M. throughout all that we have done. Although he retired as the Visitor of our Association last spring, he continues to be our personal spiritual guide.

  • We have the blessing and support of Archbishop Harry J. Flynn, Diocese of St. Paul/ Minneapolis of Minnesota, (he personally accepted the first pledges to the Rule of 1221 within this Diocese.)

  • Archbishop Roger Schweitz, Diocese of Anchorage, Alaska, and many other priests and religious too numerous to cite at this time continue to dedicate time and support for the good of our Association.

  • Sister Dominica Brennan, Vicar of Religious of the Archdiocese of St. Paul/ Minneapolis, has been directed by Archbishop Flynn to be our counsel from a canonical perspective.

  • Fr. Corey Belden, a Diocesan priest, is our current Visitor.
A brief history of our beginnings have been posted on our web site.

In 1999, we discovered another group who were also promoting the Rule of 1221 during our search to build a web site for what was at that time the Franciscan Brothers and Sisters of Penance known as the FBSP. This discovery led to combining the two groups into one and through negotiations we dropped Franciscan from our name and became the Brothers and Sisters of Penance (BSP). In August of this year, the leader of the group we had merged with along with some others privately created a new Association with the resources created during this merger and then resigned from the BSP. They are the Confraternity of Penitents.

Since their departure, our Council of Directors has voted to add "of St. Francis" to honor and enhance our focus on our original founder, St. Francis of Assisi. We are now the Brothers and Sisters of Penance of St. Francis, commonly known as the BSP.

As to who is the "real" BSP, the official one? In their departing letter to our membership, the members who resigned stated that they are no longer the BSP, they are the Confraternity of Penitents. There is a difference between the two Associations now. While both will retain the same Rule and basics, the BSP will have a deeper focus on the writings and teachings of St. Francis and of saints who have lived the Rule of 1221 to gain their sanctity. The CFP, I believe, will have a broader focus on many different saints.

I suggest that you pray and discern which direction that God is calling you to live this rule before you make a final decision. We would be most happy to welcome you into the BSP of St. Francis if our focus is the way that God speaks to you in your heart.
May God bless you in your decision,

Shelley Fahey BSP
Administrator/Messenger

TODAY'S JOKE:
A Pastor went to his church office on Monday morning and discovered a dead mule in the church yard. He telephoned the police. Since there did not appear to be any foul play, the police referred the Pastor to the Health Department.
They explained, "Since there was no health threat you'll need to call the Sanitation Department."
When the pastor called the Sanitation Department, the Manager of the Sanitation Department said, "I can't pick up that dead mule without authorization from the mayor."
The Pastor was not at all too eager to call the mayor, who possessed a very bad temper and was always extremely unpleasant and hard to deal with, but, eventually, the Pastor called the mayor anyway.
The mayor did not disappoint the Pastor. The mayor immediately began to rant and rave. After his continued rant at the pastor, the mayor finally said, "Why did you call me any way? Isn't your job to bury the dead?"
The pastor paused for a brief prayer, and asked the Lord to direct his response. The lord led the pastor to the words he was seeking, "Yes, Mayor, it IS my job to bury the dead, BUT I always like to notify the next of kin first!"

A holy and happy Christmas to all in the Lord!

Bruce and Shelley Fahey BSP

The first Presepe
Benozzo Gozzoli, St. Francis establishing the manger at Greccio Benozzo Gozzoli, Italian painter
St. Francis establishing the Manger at Greccio
1452
Montefalco, Italy, Church of St. Francis

ABOUT THE NEWSLETTER…
All members are welcome to submit articles for consideration for inclusion in the newsletter if they are directed towards the formation of members or are the outgrowth of the lifestyle.
Just send them to: Bruce and Shelley Fahey at email: minncc@aol.com
or mail to BSP at
20939 Quadrant Ave. N., Scandia MN 55073.

Feel free to share this newsletter with your friends or neighbors. It is intended to be the primary monthly communication in the Association.

The BROTHERS AND SISTERS OF PENANCE OF ST. FRANCIS is a Private Association of the Faithful, which is dedicated to renewing the ancient way of penance for lay people in our modern world, based on the First Rule of the Third Order of St. Francis of 1221. We have the approval of the Catholic Church to do this through several of its bishops.
Also, the mission of the BSP fulfills what Our Lady is asking of us all today: personal conversion.

Visit our Web site at: www.bspenance.org

Welcome to the Brothers and Sisters of Penance of St. Francis!

In the world, but not of it, for Christ!


Communication Center:

20939 Quadrant Avenue N - SCANDIA MN USA 55073
Phone: 651-433-2753   

penitentiallifestyle@mail2world.com