FRANCISCAN SAINTS: Blessed Pope John XXIII
Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli was born in Sotto il Monte, Italy, on Novembre 25, 1881, from a poor peasant family. He entered seminary at age 10 at Bergamo, being aware of his humble social status. Moreover, he wasn’t a brilliant student. He learned soon to humbly accept the last place. Later, he wrote in his journal: “the sense of my littleness and nothingness has always been my good companion, keeping me humble and content and granting me the joy of consecrating myself as best I can to the uninterrupted exercise of obedience and charity.”
During the years of seminary, Angelo joined the Secular Franciscan Third Order, professing the 1221 Rule of St. Francis. He pledged in the same day when he was accepted into clerical status. The commitment to the Franciscan spirit of minority reinforced even more in his soul the willingness to be always the last, the humblest, the simplest. Even later, when he became a Pope, he remembered the joy of his Franciscan profession.
He was ordained as a priest in 1904 and was called to work as a secretary of the Bishop of Bergamo, Giacomo Radini Tedeschi. The Bishop influenced the young priest, leading him to generously fight for the rights of the working classes, at risk of his personal safety.
During World War I, Angelo joined the Italian Army and served in the medical corps, taking care of the wounded soldiers as a chaplain. He learned there, from the horrors that he saw, to reject the war, any war. Ever since then, he tirelessly fostered the peace. He chose “Obedience and peace” as his motto when he was ordained Bishop.
Working as a diplomatic representative of the Church, and being elected Pope on October 28, 1958, he always fostered respect, harmony, reconciliation, tolerance. Every person he met was considered for his or her own merits and dignity as a child of God.
In the days of his pontificate, he had to face again contempt and humiliations. Many said he had been elected just by accident. He was defined “a transition Pope” in the sense that he had been chosen by the Conclave just because his personality was mediocre. But eventually his humble attitude and his overflowing love for the human kind captured the hearts of almost everyone.
On 25 January 1959 he announced the Second Vatican Council. Besides this, he reformed and revitalized the Church, and astonished the world with his reforming spirit. A book about leadership, which has been recently published in English, profiles him as a model and mentor for Christian leaders, as he applied leadership modern techniques in goal setting, time management, motivating people, and more.
But even if we aren’t leaders, we have a lot to learn from the large, smiling face of the Good Pope John, and from his outstretched arms embracing the world. May we imitate his humility, simplicity of heart, mercifulness and charity.
Anna Ferroni—Turin, Italy
TODAY'S JOKE: DUSTY HUMOR: from Janet Klasson—A Canadian Friend
A little boy was sitting in a Sunday school class, listening to his teacher describe how in the beginning of creation, God made mankind from the dust of the earth and how after death our bodies will decompose, and we'll return to dust. The little boy turned to his friend, and he said, "You know, I think I got somebody under my bed at home. I'm not sure whether he's coming or going."
FROM THE WEB: The Pelianito Journals: http://www3.telus.net/pelianito/
"Worry no longer about your present problems or your future circumstances, but give all to me through my Beloved Son whom I gave for you."
Thank you Father for this indescribable gift! Father I give you all my present problems and my future circumstances through the cross of Christ and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, she who trusted you without reserve.
"This is a prayer my child that I cannot refuse, for the great love of my Son and my Mother can conquer anything! Anything! Theirs is a love so pure and unwavering that no evil can touch it, nor anything recommended to it. Take refuge in this love and you will see miracles. Live in this love and you will never die. For I am there. There you will find me and there you will capture me. And we will be one through Jesus and Mary. What love! What joy! Run to my love child. May the love of Jesus and Mary ever surround you my child." Thank you Father!
Enter into the Word:
Luke 2:9 The angel of the Lord appeared to them and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were struck with great fear. 10 The angel said to them, "Do not be afraid; for behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For today in the city of David a savior has been born for you who is Messiah and Lord.
"Beloved one hear me. It is the night of glory, the night filled with the everlasting light of Christ. Be always eager to walk in the light. This night, above all, will sustain you in the light. Pray child. Ask for gifts, especially on this night, ask for all the gifts and graces the Lord desires to shower upon you. For this night all things become possible."
Father, Beloved, in Jesus’ name I ask for all the gifts and graces you desire to give me, but most especially for the grace of complete surrender to you.
"Beloved little child be assured that no such prayer would ever go unanswered, least of all on this night. Child you cannot even imagine the glory of this night. The angels themselves are filled with awe and wonder. There is MUCH to celebrate, much to be thankful for. On this special night, do not forget to thank the Theotokos, my Mother and yours, the Blessed Virgin Mary, for her total surrender to God’s holy plan. Your gratitude should fill you to overflowing."
Beloved Mother of my heart, I thank you. I am filled with gratitude for the great gift of your “yes” to God. My Mother, the best way I can show you my gratitude is to ask your help in imitating you. Help me Mother. I am yours. Beloved Jesus, Infant King, I adore you, perfect Saviour of my heart. Jesus I belong to you! "Child go in peace. You have my special blessing."
Thanks be to God!
THOUGTHS FOR THE NEW YEAR: Joy Pachowicz—WV
Here we are another year, another opportunity for growth. While proceeding to write a few word regarding: New Year's Resolutions, I found myself asking myself: "Who am I to write something for others to read" "Am I someone who can say something of resolutions?" "Haven't I, myself, year after year made resolutions and somehow or other failed in them?"
Of course I have. Yet, since God has given me this challenge and my fingers seem to have no problem moving across the keyboard; I am proceeding to jot down a few thoughts.
Resolution, according to the English Dictionary is resolving to do something. All of us do this. This is not something reserved for New Years Day. It's not something reserved for beginners in the spiritual journey to God. Rather it's something we do so often without even giving it a second thought.
What's so special about a this Year then? Moreover, what'so important about making resolutions as Brothers and Sisters of Penance of St Francis? Well, first off, we as a organization are starting off on a New Beginning; or shall I say returning to a Former Beginning. We are striving to recapture what motivated our response to God's Holy Spirit calling us to a deeper understanding of the Penitential way. We will be trying to allow our souls to be molded by the rule and admonitions of our Holy Father Francis so that the world in which we live in may experience that simplicity and joy once felt when our Holy Father Francis walked about the world. We will be resolving in our own way to live more faithfully the individual call we have received during our baptism and which is ever more fully being made know to us through the movements of God's Holy Spirit moving in our fraternity.
No one will ever be able to choose for us the special area in our life we should try to improve. No one is going to act as our conscience and tell us what it is we should choose for our New Year's Resolution. But, we can be certain that as members of the Brothers and Sisters of Penance of St Francis, we will have ample supports for our journey. We will find a well defined roadmap to deepen and intensify our union with our Beloved Lord and will find a joyful peace that no one shall ever be able to take from us. So what are we waiting for? We have so much to do. As our Holy Father Francis had said I now echo "Let's begin brothers (and sisters) for up to now we have done nothing".
May God give you His peace and I humbly thank you for allowing me to share my thoughts.
In Jesus and Mary,
Joy Pachowicz BSP
(BSP Formation Director and Novice 3)
Words of the Blessed Virgin spoken to Juan Diego
December 9th and 12th 1531 Guadalupe, Mexico
"Know for certain that I am the perfect and perpetual Virgin Mary, Mother of the True God . . . here I will show and offer all my love, my compassion, my help and protection to the people. I am your merciful Mother, the Mother of all who love me, of those who cry to me, of those who have confidence in me. Here I will hear their weeping and their sorrows . . . their necessities and misfortunes . . . Listen and let it penetrate your heart . . . Do not be troubled or weighed down with grief. Do not fear any illness or vexation, anxiety or pain. Am I not here who am your Mother? Are you not under my shadow and protection? Am I not your fountain of life? Are you not in the folds of my mantle? In the crossing of my arms? Is there anything else you need?"
Our Lady of Guadalupe: A glance back...
December 12th is known in Mexico and America as the Day of Our Lady of Guadalupe (Dia de Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe) celebrating the appearance of the Virgin Mary on Dec. 9th to the Aztec native and Christian convert Juan Diego, in 1531.
On his way to church for morning services, Juan Diego, age 57, climbed through the Tepayac Hill country in central Mexico. Near Tepayac Hill, he encountered, by surprise, a beautiful dark skinned woman surrounded by a ball of light as bright as the sun. She spoke to him in his native tongue and asked him to go to the bishop and request that a church be erected in her honor, on the very spot they were standing.
Juan did as Mary, Our Blessed Mother, requested, but feeling disappointed by the bishop’s response, he considered himself unworthy. The next day he met the Blessed Virgin Mary again on the hill with the same request. So, he implored her to send someone else. But Mary told him that he was the one she had chosen. The next day Juan returned to the bishop and repeated Our Lady’s request. On re-hearing his story, the bishop asked that the Lady provide a sign as proof of who she was. Juan dutifully returned to the hill and to Mary. She, in turn, asked Juan to return to the hill again, the next day, and she would have a sign for the bishop. Unfortunately, Juan did not return. His uncle was dying and needed his care. After two days, when Juan was rushing to find a priest for his uncle, Mary appeared again to him. She assured him of a cure for his uncle; and instructed him to take his tilma (his cape) and gather into it the roses that had miraculously grown at her feet, despite the winter frost. So Juan took these flowers to the bishop, and as they poured out from his tilma, an image of the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared on it, precisely as Juan had described her.
The following day, Juan took the bishop to the spot where he first met Mary. He then returned to his village where he met his uncle who was completely cured! His uncle told him that while Juan was away, he was met by a young woman surrounded by a soft light, who told him that she had just sent his nephew to the bishop with a picture of herself. And then she said: “Call me and call my image Santa Maria de Guadalupe.”
It is believed that the word Guadalupe was actually a Spanish mistranslation of the local Aztec dialect. The word that Mary probably used was “Coatlallope” which means “one who treads on snakes”! Within six years of this apparition, six million native Mexicans had converted to Catholicism.
Not only a church, eventually the Basilica of Guadalupe, was built on the site of the apparition. The tilma, the relic, has been kept in this cathedral and inexplicably preserved for more than 400 years. The image on the tilma is one of the Virgin surrounded by the light of heaven and the stars of the winter solstice sky. The stars represented on the Virgin’s mantle are said to be the exact constellations that were present at the time the tilma was presented to the bishop. It remains complete and on display to this day. Basilica de Guadalupe is, by far, the most popular religious pilgrimage site in the Western Hemisphere and the Americas.
NO GREATER LOVE: by PAUL BEERY
There are many ways God shows His love for us. John 3, 16 comes to mind: “For God so loved the world that He sent His only-begotten Son.” And Jesus manifestly displayed that love by laying down His life through the passion and death on the Cross.
But there is another, more hidden manifestation of God’s love: the birth of Jesus as a helpless infant. One would think the arrival of the Son of God on earth would be accompanied by great pomp and circumstance, with incredible natural marvels to attract people’s attention to the coming event. But God is full of surprises.
Jesus would come to earth in a most humble way, to show us the necessity of humility. There is a way to really enter into this mystery.
God reveals Himself to the lowly. Two Venerable women have been given great revelations concerning the details of the life of Christ. “Our Sunday Visitor” just did a special on both of them: Venerable Mary of Agreda (1602-1666), a Franciscan nun, and Venerable Anne Catherine Emmerich (1774-1824). They will become more widely known as Mel Gibson’s film, “The Passion of Christ,” makes its debut early next year. Mel consulted the writings of each for details in presenting an accurate picture of the Passion and death of our Savior Jesus Christ. We too can learn a great deal about some of the mysteries of the life of Christ and
our Blessed Mother.
Venerable Mary of Agreda became a nun in a Franciscan convent in Spain. Before her death in 1666, she wrote the “Mystical City of God,” from revelations she had received. This book had a profound influence on my spiritual conversion at the tender age of 21. Even though modern translations are available, I still treasure the original English translation by Fiscar Marison, 1902 edition.
The following is written on the front page after the title: “The Miracle of His Omnipotence and the Abyss of His Grace, The Divine History and Life of the Virgin Mother of God. Manifested in these later ages by that Lady to her handmaid Sister Mary of Jesus, Superioress of the convent of the Immaculate Conception of the town of Agreda, of the province of Burgos in Spain, under obedience to the regular observance of the Seraphic Father Saint Francis. For new enlightenment of the world, for rejoicing of the Catholic Church, and encouragement of men.”
With Mary of Agreda we enter into an otherworldly dimension that lifts our hearts to God. We see angels interacting with the human family for the sole purpose of glorifying God. We see the daily life of the
Holy Family, their relationships and prayer life. We have a glimpse of eternal life through the manifest holiness of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, who become role models for us.
Come, Lord Jesus, Come and teach us to be like you in your humility, as you come to us as a helpless infant. Come and teach us to love you with all our hearts as Mary loved and cared for you.
St. Joseph, protector of the Holy Family, pray for us.
RESOLUTIONS! By Winnie Spencer-dealy… ID
When we think of the New Year, we almost always think of resolutions. Resolutions are good things, kept in their proper perspective. For those of us following the Rule of 1221, we must strive to see resolutions in their proper light. We must endeavor to live the spiritual life, and this includes any resolutions we would make for ourselves. Let us then consider what it is we should resolve to do.
We must be resolved to deepen our lives of prayer. Prayer is the infrastructure, so to speak, of our life in God. In prayer we come into contact with that living Reality, where we converse with the Most High. Prayer is more than speaking, indeed, listening is what we should resolve to do. To be quiet in prayer is our goal, so that Jesus would speak to our hearts. When our hearts are at rest we rest in God, and that peace which surpasses all understanding pervades our souls, allowing us to be One with He Who Is. Yes, let us resolve to attain the prayer of quiet, which many Saints have alluded to. May it be so in Christ, our Lord.
Let us now consider our action. Life should be a healthy balance between contemplation and action, with our faith underlying it all. What can we do better this year? Where have we fallen short in our lives of action? We should consider if love has been the foundation of our daily living, Do we go about our daily lives in a spirit of love and consideration, or is there anger and resentment in our hearts? Often we forget to encounter Jesus in everyone we meet. St. Francis encountered the poor Jesus in others, and tried to be of service to them. Let us follow his example, and reach out to the poor Christ in all. We should resolve to meet the poor Christ daily in those with whom me move about and relate to. Let us resolve to serve others better, to serve Jesus better.
And Love. Do we have Love? Does the Most Holy Trinity dwell in our hearts, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit? We should resolve to be mindful of the Holy Spirit, Who pervades our hearts and minds. In Love we are nourished by the Body and the Blood of our Lord, Jesus Christ. He has been born into our Hearts this New Year; we should continually seek Him. Visit Him and encounter Him in the Sacraments of the Church, most especially in the Eucharist. Aha! So we shall be resolved to partake of the Sacraments more frequently, then going about and serving others, letting His goodness enrich and infuse life into our souls. And of course, we could go on, adding more resolutions to our list.
It's plainly seen that we are not short of any resolutions this year. When we think of what we will resolve to do, let us put God first. For all strength of soul, and all peace of mind comes from God, so we would do well to acknowledge His place in our lives. Our Rule says simply, "Let each member fortify his household to serve God." And that is what we shall resolve to do.
A NOTE TO ALL: from Donna Kay in PA
Lord Jesus, when the world was growing cold, You renewed in the flesh of St. Francis the sacred marks of Your Passion and inflamed in his heart a fire of love for You. Divine Savior, impress on my heart an ardent death, that I may cheerfully carry my cross and with joy embrace my penances.
Lord show me the areas of my life where I need mostly to follow the example of St. Francis. Pax Et Bonum!
Donna Kaye Rock, Postulant in January, and a Professed Member of The SFO. She professed into the SFO on the Feast of St. Lucy, December 13.
LK 6:37 "Stop judging and you will not be judged. Stop condemning and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven.”
Author: an unknown Italian painter
called "The Master of the Louvre"
Paris, Louvre Museum
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. Welcome to all!
Visit our Web site at: www.bspenance.org
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:
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.
Welcome to the Brothers and Sisters of Penance of St. Francis!