'FOLLOW ME!'
Luke 9:23

Published for

The BROTHERS AND SISTERS OF PENANCE

Butterfly Symbol

of
          St. Francis

March 2004

FROM THE WRITINGS ON ST. FRANCIS:

St. Francis venerating the Crucifix, El Greco
St. Francis venerating the Crucifix
Author: El Greco
painted between 1587 and 1597
Museo de Bellas Artes, Bilboa (Spain)
Now the Lord Bernard saw the very inspiring actions of St. Francis… And while he was attentively meditating on the words which the Saint was saying and carefully observing his devotion, he was touched by the Holy Spirit in the depths of his heart and felt inspired to change his life.
Therefore, when morning came, he called St. Francis and said to him: “Brother Francis, I have definitely resolved in my heart to leave the world and follow you in whatever you order me to do.”

When St. Francis heard this, he rejoiced in spirit and said: “Lord Bernard, what you say is so great and difficult an undertaking that we must seek the advice of Our Lord Jesus Christ concerning it, so that He Himself may deign to show us His will regarding it and teach us how we should carry it out. So let us go together to the Bishop’s Church where there is a good priest, and we have him say Mass, and after hearing it, we will pray their until tierce. And in our prayer we will ask the Lord Jesus Christ to deign to show us in three openings of the missal the way which He wants us to choose.” And the Lord Bernard replied that this pleased him a great deal.

They therefore went to the Bishop’s Church. And after they had heard Mass and had prolonged their prayers until tierce, the above-mentioned priest took up the missal at the request of St. Francis and the Lord Bernard. And having made the Sign of the Cross, he opened it three times in the name of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
At the first opening there appeared the words that Christ said in the Gospel to the young man who asked Him about the way of perfection: “If you wish to be perfect, go, sell all that you have, and give to the poor, and come, follow me.”
At the second opening there appeared those words which Christ said to the Apostles when He sent them to preach: “Take nothing for the journey, neither staff, nor wallet, nor bread, nor money,” wishing thereby to teach them that they should place all their hope for support in God and concentrate entirely on preaching the Holy Gospel.
At the third opening of the missal there appeared those words which Christ said: “If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.”

Little Flowers of St. Francis 1330

COMMENTARY:

Christ said, "If you love me, you will keep my commandments."
This statement is our way to holiness as Christ is asking us to show our love for Him by turning our Will over to God and living our life according to God's Will.
God Himself is only concerned with our Spiritual Life. All that we have in this world will not gain us eternal salvation. He repeatedly tells us that material things are not the meaning of our life. We must always put things under His care through our Faith in Him. We must have total surrender to God through complete submission to His Will.
He is telling us this each time He says, "Take nothing with you for the journey" for we must trust in Him in ALL ways. We must leave "ourselves" to follow Him.

ADMINISTRATOR’S MESSAGE:

Bruce Fahey, Minister
Shelley Fahey, Messenger
Dear Brothers and Sisters of Penance,

Much is going on in the Association. Our membership is slowly growing, and people are happy to be in formation and enjoying sharing their journeys. To date not a single member has left, and we now have more than 60 members in 24 states, and several pledged members.
The most recent member to pledge was Ronald Ferguson, husband of Winnie Ferguson. Winnie and Ron live in Austin, Minnesota and have been associated with the Brothers and Sisters of Penance since the early 1990’s, before we became an Association in the Church. Shelley and I can still recall first meeting Winnie and Ron at those first meetings.
Winnie and Ron were founding members of the second Chapter that formed in the Association in Minnesota. Our Mother of Divine Mercy Chapter, as they named it. It is alive and well, and has the strong support of Bishop Bernard Harrington of Winona. Austin is in the Winona diocese.
We congratulate Ronald on his pledging, and we express our great joy to both Winnie and Ron on their journey into the life of our Rule for the love of God and good of their souls. We were most pleased to be part of Ron’s pledging Mass and ceremony at St. Edwards in Austin, and to renew our marriage vows with them before Fr. Valerius Messerich and Fr. Richard Loomis. It was a grand and wonderful day. Pictures of the event are carried at the bottom of this article.

In other business we will be setting up intermediate levels of accomplishment for those among our members who may feel they don’t wish to embrace the entire Rule. When we get the approval of our Visitor it will be possible to pledge to live the prayer life alone, the fasting and mortification alone, or all the Rule as has historically been the case for those who complete formation. These ‘intermediate’ levels, as yet unnamed, can happen once an individual completes those years of formation.
We feel this is completely consistent with the call to create the Association which the Lord gave us. There was no mention of numbers, or pledges, or anything else. Only the request that an Association be created in the modern world for people who wish to live according to the First Rule of the Third Order of St. Francis in honor of St. Francis. The Brothers and Sisters of Penance of St. Francis is that Association. We have a lot of work to do to make this the warm, wonderful and wide open Association for everyone in the whole world who loves St. Francis, but it is good and holy work and we can all get involved. God has greatly blessed us all in this work.

During this Lent let us all pray for guidance and the grace to know what God wants of us. Let us make an offering of our lives again to the Lord, who suffered so much for us. Perhaps seeing the movie on the passion that Mel Gibson directed should be on our list of things to do. In some way we all need to draw close to the sufferings of Jesus anew. In joy, and peace with all! This Association is a real call to personal holiness for those who want it. Most don’t want it. But, for those of us who do, it is our response to the Lord, who said: “How narrow the gate and constricted the road that leads to life. And those who find it are few.” (Mt. 7:14) The Rule of the BSP is that gate, and we enter it for the Love of God.

Bruce and Shelley Fahey BSP
The Administrators

Group Shot after the pledge ceremony
Left to right:
Back: Ron Ferguson, Fr. Valerius, Fr. Loomis, and Bruce Fahey.
Front: Winnie Ferguson and Shelley Fahey
The cake!
Ron’s beautiful Pledging Cake
With a wonderful message
Ron pledging to Fr. Loomis
Father Val oversees the “Pledge for life” of Ron Ferguson, which he is making to Fr. Loomis at St. Edwards Church in Austin, Mn.

Father Valerius Messerich O.F.M.

“RETURN TO ME WITH YOUR WHOLE HEART” (JOEL 2:12)

With these words of Scripture, the Church opens the season of Lent. Are not these words the most all-embracing meaning of Penance?

Penance is a return to Baptism. Baptism is conversion, the initial turning from self to the Gospel journey of Jesus Christ from “no place to lay his head” in this world, to Crucifixion and Resurrection. The path of the baptized Christian is the way of Jesus Christ. And for those baptized infants who never got off on the race that leads to the prize of Eternal Life or who have fallen by the wayside of self-indulgence, Jesus after His baptism entered the desert to be tempted by the devil as he fasted for forty days and forty nights. Read the Gospel of the First Sunday of Lent. That Gospel is a challenge to you to repent of your sins and negligence and be reconciled not only with God but with the teachings of the Catholic Church that leads you to make up with your brothers and sisters in Christ as well as living in peace with all people.

The season of Lent is a time to accept the full implication of the gift of Baptism. If your Baptism is not death to self, then Lent for you must be a time of fasting and self-denial. As a Brother or Sister of Penance, that means getting serious about a literal observance of the Rule of 1221. The Rule of the BSP. Is it then a time for you to put aside all the excuses you usually make that you may salve your conscience with an easier choice that permits you to live for the satisfaction of your earthly wants? “Return to me with your whole heart.”

This month as you are called upon to reflect on your observance of Article 22 of the Rule, please note the obligation to visit the sick. Visiting the sick is “ to remind him (the sick brother or sister) of penance.” Now the minister is to visit the patient once a week in person or through others. Most of the time the initiative to do so falls upon “you, the other”, if you are near the sick person or know them. And if your own call to be a brother and sister of penance means more than saving your soul and “rising on the last day”, then your mission is to any sick person you may know. Perhaps that visit may be the last chance for that person to pray, repent and make peace with God. By Baptism you are called to be a prophet proclaiming the Good News of salvation. By Baptism you are to actively participate in prayer and public worship and fitting priestly sacrifice. By such personal Christian witness you are contributing to bringing about a better world in a society that has lost personal integrity and accountability.

As a friend of mine so often says: “We need all the help we can get.” Hopefully that means for you not simply to be on the receiving end, but on the giving end, of care for others, as “It is in giving that we receive.” (Peace prayer of St. Francis)

Peace and Blessings,

Fr. Valerius Messerich, O.F.M.—Retired First Visitor and Spiritual Assistant to the BSP

Father Corey Belden

Father Corey Belden

Father Corey is our new Visitor, and is fully involved in parish work as the Parochial Vicar for St. Mary’s and St. Michael’s Parishes in Stillwater, Minnesota. He was born, raised, and ordained in the Twin Cities and is very excited to help us in the Association. We happily welcome Fr. Corey Belden! Questions may be directed to Father Corey through the Communication Center of the BSP.

THE ADMONITIONS OF ST. FRANCIS: II. The Evil of Self-will

        God told Adam: “From every tree of the garden you may eat; but from the tree of knowledge of good and evil you must not eat" (Gen. 2: 16-17). Adam, then, could eat his fill of all of the trees in the garden, and as long as he did not act against obedience, he did not sin. A man eats of the tree that brings knowledge of good, when he claims that his good will comes from himself alone and prides himself on the good that God says and does in him. And so, at the devil’s prompting and by transgressing God’s command, the fruit becomes for him the fruit that brings knowledge of evil, and it is only right that he should pay the penalty.

Dialogue with Christ: Ellen De Rosa

Jesus, I am sorry for poor way I live my belief in you. I am even more sorry that when I do live the way you taught me to live, my attitude is wrong. I don’t live your teachings out of love for you, but according to how it benefits me in my selfishness, concern for the approval of others or comfort. Help me to correct my attitude, living with more love each day and living more closely according to the way you taught me to live.

Jesus, I want the world to be a better place, and I know I need to be better myself. I have been attracted to so many plans that promise easy improvement. Perhaps I have neglected your plan because it seemed too difficult, because it meant too much sacrifice for me. Help me make your plan my plan. That is the birthday gift I want to offer you this year. I want to continue to live the love and optimism I experience at Christmas every day of my life -- to preserve Christmas in my heart. Others may say this is impossible, but of all the plans I know of to make the world a better place, your plan, which I catch a glimpse of each year at Christmas, is by far the most worthwhile.

Ellen De Rosa

Daily Prayer - Joy Pachowicz

What we need most for our spiritual growth is: prayer. For some prayer consists in kneeling quietly before the Blessed Sacrament. For others it is holding tight to our Blessed Mother's Rosary and repeating one after another.. "Hail Mary Full of Grace" Still others, believe prayer is a sputtering of unrecognizable sounds which they call "praying in tongues". For each person, prayer takes on a different meaning. Yet, the simplest, most accurate understanding of the word prayer is this: talking to God...

Talking to God doesn't require we hold a PhD or that others consider us Holy People. Prayer doesn't hinge upon external things; but rather it is the response of a individual to God's invitation to a meeting with Him. Sometimes it will be through audible sounds: words or song. Sometimes it will be through inaudible acts: the surrender of one's will; silent wonder and awe. And, sometimes it will be in union with others who are responding to a communal invitation to prayer. Whatever the form of prayer we choose.. If our prayer springs from deep within our hearts, then the results of time spent in prayer will be long lasting and not only affect us; but also, those who come in contact with us.

Take time, therefore, to hear God's invitation deep within your heart. He is calling you to some very beautiful and loving moments with Him.

God give you His Peace,

The Little Franciscan
Joy Pachowicz BSP

Anna Ferroni
LENT AND THE JOY OF HOUSE CLEANING
Anna Ferroni BSP - Italy

This week begins the season of Lent, which is commonly defined as the spring cleaning of the soul. Therefore, participate in this Lenten spring cleaning of the soul! Of course, house cleaning must be done on a continual basis, but now is as good a time as any to clean out the closets of your soul. Sometimes, if we haven't done it in a while, we are afraid to clean under and behind our pieces of furniture, for fear of what creepy things might be back there. So, what is the spiritual equivalent of spring cleaning? Lent must begin with an examination of conscience. This is an examen of conscience for advanced souls, not focusing on external acts but on what passes within our souls.

EXAMEN OF CONSCIENCE:

I . IN RELATION TO GOD:

  1. Have you omitted morning or evening prayer, or neglected to make your daily examination of conscience? Have you prayed negligently, and with willful distraction?
  2. Have you spent your time, especially on Sundays and holy days, in reading, praying, or other pious exercises; and taken care that those under your charge have done, or been instructed to do, the same?
  3. Have you spoken irreverently of God and holy things? Have you taken his name in vain, or told untruths?
  4. Have you omitted your duty out of concern for human respect, or self-interest, etc. ?
  5. Have you been zealous for God's honor, for justice, virtue and truth, and reproved those who act otherwise?
  6. Have you resigned your will to God in troubles, necessities, sickness, etc.?
  7. Have you faithfully resisted thoughts of infidelity, distrust, presumption, impurity, suicide, etc.?

II . IN RELATION TO YOUR NEIGHBOR

  1. Have you disobeyed your superiors, murmured against their commands, or spoken of them contemptuously?
  2. Have you been troubled, peevish, or impatient, when told of your faults, and not corrected them?
  3. Have you offended any one by injurious or threatening words or actions?
  4. Or lessened their reputation by any sort of detractions; or in any matter of importance?
  5. Or spread any report, true or false, that exposed your neighbor to contempt, or made him under-valued?
  6. Have you been carrying stories backward and forward, created discord and misunderstanding between neighbors?
  7. Have you been forward or peevish towards any one in your care or contact in speech, or action?
  8. Or taken pleasure in provoking them to swear, curse, or in any way offend God?
  9. Have you mocked or reproached others for their corporal or spiritual imperfections?
  10. Have you been excessive in repremending those under your care, or even in giving them just reproof?
  11. Have you borne patiently with the oversights and imperfections of others, and given them good counsel?
  12. Have you been solicitous for those under your care, and provided for their souls and bodies?

III . IN RELATION TO YOURSELF.

  1. Have you been obstinate in following your own will, or in defending your own opinion when you should not be?
  2. Have you taken pleasure in hearing yourself praised, or yielded to thoughts of vanity?
  3. Have you indulged yourself in over-much ease, or in any way yielded unduly to sensuality?
  4. Has your conversation been edifying and moderate; or have you been forward, proud, or troublesome to others?
  5. Have you spent too much time in play, and thereby omitted, or put off your devotions, or skipped them entirely?

St. Augustine said, "My Lord, grant me to know who you are and who I am." After we examine our soul, we must shift our focus from who we are to Who is God. Have faith in how much God loves you. Open your heart to Jesus, who said: "they that are whole need not a physician; but they that are sick. I came not to call the righteous but sinners to repentance (Luke 5:31,32).
For years we have been hearing about repentance during Lent. What do we do when something is repeated? We say, "I already heard that story". We might even get angry. But the very fact is that Jesus spoke to the crowds about repentance again and again. Jesus repeated the message to repentance because it is a message we need to hear over and over again. Suppose you are driving a nail into a wall. You have to hit the nail several times to drive it in. Similarly, Jesus calls each one of us to conversion. Jesus preached on repentance over and over to drive it in, ! to reach deep into our soul.

"Turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel," (Mark 1:15) the priest says as he places the ashes on the forehead of the faithful. These words in effect began the active ministry of Jesus. Repentance is the essential prerequisite of receiving God's mercy. If we say we are without sin then we reject God's healing mercy.

Repentance brings us home to the Father. Where is home? Bob Dylan in 1960 sang: "How does it feel; To be one your own; With no direction home; Like a complete unknown; Like a rolling stone?" He was speaking of isolation, loneliness and alienation from others. We, as Catholics, know that home is that core in man that is made for Communion with God. The Kingdom of God is within. To come home to the Father in our hearts is to throw out all of the distractions from our hearts, to purify our passions so that they correctly point to God. And then we shall find that the Father is there waiting for us already. Let us clean house this Lent!

Have a great and holy Lent!

Anna

FOR THE LOVE OF GOD[*]: OUR RULE AND STATUTES

Saint Francis
CHAPTER I: DAILY LIFE

2. They shall wear their outer garments and furred coats without open throat, sewed shut or uncut but certainly laced up, not open as secular people wear them; and they shall wear their sleeves closed.

  • For the Love of God - This calls us to dress modestly and avoid "macho" or “suggestive” fashions. The call to wear outer garments “...without open throat...” is an obvious recommendation to dress different than the world around us. Somehow we need to “button up” our collars or wear loose clothing and long sleeves, etc. to begin to recreate in the world what should be normal human modesty of dress. The "layered look" might be the easy modern parallel to this article. It is especially important not to wear anything that might call attention to our sexuality. If we aren't sure what not to wear we can just go to the nearest news stand and read the pictures and then not dress that way!

  • For the Love of God - It is most apparent that St. Francis had no love of clothes. It is recorded that “When Francis was approached by beggars, he was not content to give them merely what he had - he wanted to give his whole self to them. At times he took off his clothes and gave them away, or ripped or tore pieces from them, if he had nothing else in hand..."

  • For the Love of God - Remember always that we should not stand in any kind of judgment against others who dress differently than we do. There is absolutely no obligation to dress poorly, as if to do so put us under pain of sin. We should do it to emphasize that it is what is within that is important, not what we wear outside. Consider that the Lord himself judged no one, not even the obviously guilty, while himself on earth. Why did he do that since He is the Judge of all? The answer is that he must have wanted to teach us not to judge others, and so it is recorded in the Gospel, regarding a woman caught in adultery, that: "Jesus finally straightened up and said to her, ‘Woman, where did they all disappear to? Has no one condemned you?’ ‘No one, sir,’ she answered. Jesus said, ‘Nor do I condemn you. You may go. But from now on avoid this sin.’" (Jn 8:10-11)


[*] This is a meditation on the Rule of 1221 written by Bruce and Shelley Fahey prior to the creation of the BSP. Do not confuse this meditation with the official Rule and Statutes of the BSP as posted on the web page at www.bspenance.org which define how we live the Rule today. A copy of the Rule and Statutes of the BSP may be obtained by writing the BSP Communication Center.

FRANCISCAN SAINTS: Blessed Contardo Ferrini: a man of “ordinary holiness”

Blessed Contardo Ferrini
Blessed
Contardo Ferrini
Contardo Ferrini lived from 1859 to 1902. Born in Milan, he was the son of a teacher who went on to become a learned man himself, one acquainted with some dozen languages. Today he is known as the patron of universities.
First Communion at the age of 12 proved to be a turning point in his life. He developed an intense spiritual life, joining the Blessed Sacrament Confraternity, his whole life centred around the Blessed Sacrament.
After a short stay at Milan University, he proceeded to the University of Pavia at the age of 17. He attended daily Mass and became a lay Franciscan, faithfully observing the Third Order rule of life. He also served through membership in the Society of St. Vincent de Paul. He received a doctorate in law in Italy and then earned a scholarship that enabled him to study Roman-Byzantine law in Berlin. While studying in Berlin, Contardo was trying to decide whether he should become a priest or a monk, or whether he should marry. He kept asking himself just what he should do. As it turned out, he took a vow to give himself only to God. He lived that vow as a lay person; he never became a priest or brother.
Back to Italy, as a renowned legal expert, he taught in various schools of higher education until he joined the faculty of the University of Pavia, where he was considered an outstanding authority on Roman law. He published over 200 works, books, articles and reviews.
Contardo was learned about the faith he lived and loved. "Our life," he said, "must reach out toward the Infinite, and from that source we must draw whatever we can expect of merit and dignity." As a scholar he studied the ancient biblical languages and read the Scriptures in them. His speeches and papers show his understanding of the relationship of faith and science.
In spite of his brilliant attainments he bore no trace of affectation but remained to the end simple, humble and loveable. He spent little on himself and gave generously. He worked to spread the Gospel through friendship, concrete help to the poor, and correspondence.
He went on teaching and writing. He tried always to become a more perfect Christian. While enjoying his favorite sport of mountain-climbing, he would think of God, the Creator of all the beauty he saw. People noticed that there was something different about Professor Ferrini. Once when he had passed by with his usual warm smile, someone exclaimed, "That man is a saint!"
He was once invited by some noblemen to a party. The atmosphere was tedious. Well, he invited all the guests to pray the Rosary with him. His death in 1902 at the age of 43 occasioned letters from his fellow professors that praised him as a saint for his tremendous piety and humility; the people of Suna where he lived insisted that he be declared a saint. Pope Pius XII beatified Contardo in 1947.
Some people believe that to be holy, a person must wear a long face, hold his hands in a prayerful attitude, forget to smile or laugh, divorce himself from everyday problems and activities. This is the wrong concept of holiness. Contardo Ferrini was a man of action, busy with everyday activities; working, teaching, discussing, writing, thus giving us an example of what a truly Christian life should be like. We should follow his example to be holy men and women even as he was.

"If on any particular day we do nothing more than give a little joy to a neighbor, that day will not be wasted. For we have succeeded in giving comfort to an immortal soul."

Submitted by Anna Ferroni—Turin, Italy

Paul Beery
NO GREATER LOVE: by PAUL BEERY

       "I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this was your gracious will." And Jesus said to His disciples, "To you have been given the secrets of the Kingdom of God..." (Lk 8-10)

        God reveals Himself to those who accept His self-revelation with the trusting quality of innocent children. And Jesus puts us in that receptive frame of mind when we become His disciples. From His Fullness of Life He wishes to share everything with His most intimate disciples, even the dread that came upon Him during the agony in the garden. This dread is diffucult to understand, because we were born to live. Jesus was born to die. From all eternity Jesus was destined to die an ignominious death on the cross, perhaps the most cruel form of execution ever invented, abandoned by all but a handful of faithful disciples.

        Through the centuries Jesus has revealed the nature of His sufferings to His most intimate followers. While Paul the Apostle may have been the first to receive the stigmata, "I bear the brand-marks of Jesus on my body,"(Gal. 6) the "marks of Jesus" became most widely known when they were received by our holy father St. Francis. Brother Elias explained:
"Not long before his death our brother and father appeared as one crucified, bearing in his body five wounds which are the very Stigmata of Christ. For his hands and his feet had as it were the holes of nails, pierced through on both sides, remaining as wounds and having the blackness of nails. (The marks were round on the inside of the hands, on the outside elongated; and a small bit of flesh appeared like the head of a nail, bent and turned back, which lay on top of the other flesh. In the same way also in his feet were marks of nails raised up from the rest of the flesh. His right side was pierced as with a spear, the wound being closed up; and this used often to bleed so that his tunic and breeches were often stained with holy blood.)
While the spirit still lived in him his appearance was not respected but rather despised, and there was no part of him but had undergone great suffering. From the tightening of the nerves his limbs had become rigid, as are those of a dead man; but after his death his appearance became most beautiful, shining with a wonderful light and giving joy to all who saw it. And his limbs which had been stiff became perfectly loose..." (Br. Elias letter, pg. 1895, Omnibus)

        In our own day, Padre Pio suffered excruciating pain from the Marks of Jesus for almost 50 years. St. Paul, St. Francis, and Padre Pio are among a select few who have personally experienced the very wounds of Jesus, having been counted worthy to share intimately in His sufferings by bearing in their bodies the marks of Jesus. They are among the disciples chosen to be intimate companions of Jesus, given the secrets of the Kingdom. We honor them. We want to be like them. Are miracles still possible?

        The world is witnessing an incredible spiritual re-birth today. Even out of the soul-numbing perversity of Hollywood comes a genuine film on the Passion of Christ. Never before has there been the opportunity for so many to see and experience the actual suffering and death of Jesus on the Cross. This movie is not for the faint of heart. Holiness is not for the faint of heart. A profound opportunity is before us: do we really wish to share in His sufferings so as to share in His glory? Do we wish to see the marks on the body of Jesus, and make them our own? God willing, those marks will remain within us if our discipleship merits such a grace.

        The movie opens Ash Wednesday. Just think how powerful the Stations of the Cross will become after actually seeing the betrayal, the scourging, the marks of the whip, the crown of thorns put on the One who showed the world there is No Greater Love in the way He laid down His life. I know someone who intends to pray the Way of the Cross each day in Church during lent as a life changing practice. And the prayer of St. Alphonsus cannot be far away at such a time:

"I love You, Jesus my love, with all my heart.
I'm sorry for ever having offended You.
Never let me be separated from You.
Grant that I may love you always, and then do with me as You will."

Paul
Morning Star Chapter—BSP

- RETREAT 2004 -


The Chapel at Prior Lake Retreat Center

The 2004 retreat for the Brothers and Sisters of St. Francis will be held at the Franciscan Retreat Center at Prior Lake, Minnesota from Friday evening, July 30th to Sunday noon, August 1st.
The expected cost is $120 for everything. We are very happy to report that the Visitor of the BSP,
Father Corey Belden, and Father Valerius Messerich O.F.M., our first Visitor, both hope to be at the retreat, and that our primary retreat speaker will be Fr. Robert Altier, a very renowned speaker in the Twin Cities area. Fr. Altier’s talks and much more are recorded on his Web site at:
http://www.desertvoice.org/ . We will also be blessed to have Archbishop Harry J. Flynn celebrate Mass on Saturday night, and we are sure the Archbishop will have a powerful message of support for all present.
If you wish to book your attendance at the retreat please send a $25 deposit to the Brothers and Sisters of Penance of St. Francis; 20939 Quadrant Ave. N., Scandia, Minnesota 55073. Travel arrangements can be coordinated with the BSP Communication Center at the same address if you are planning on coming in by rail or air. The retreat schedule will be published as we get closer to the date. If you have any questions please call Bruce or Shelley at the BSP Communication Center at 651-433-2753.

Winnie Spencer-Dealy
ON LENT:
By Winnie Spencer-dealy BSP

        "Therefore Easter is not simply one feast among others, but the 'Feast of feasts,' the 'Solemnity of solemnities,'..." so says the Catechism of the Catholic Church (1169). We are given a beautiful season to prepare for this Feast of feasts, that season which we call Lent. The word "lent" is an old English word meaning "springtime", and how appropriate, as it is often called the "spring time of our souls." As signs of new life are beginning to manifest in the world of nature, so are the signs of new life growing in our souls. We must remember that our old selves are to die, and we are raised to new life with Christ.
       There are 3 traditional penitential practices associated with Lent: 1. fasting; 2. prayer; and 3. almsgiving. How can we incorporate these traditional practices into our lives this Lenten season?
       For most people, fasting is often associated with Lent. "What are you giving up this Lent?" people ask one another. There are a number of answers, including meat, soda and coffee, candy and other sweets. But fasting doesn't have to be limited to food. We can fast from criticism, anger and other negative emotions, as well as from TV and the computer. We must remember that Jesus commanded us to fast with joy in our hearts, and not to appear to be fasting so as to gain sympathy from others. It is the spirit of the fast that Jesus is concerned about, as opposed to the fast itself. If we fast from something that we really like, and do not want to fast from, all the better and greater will be the rewards.
       Prayer is built into our Rule, and we must strive to "pray always." What can we do this season to pray more? Many parishes offer the Stations of the Cross on Fridays, often with a meager meal afterwards. For those of us who are 1 Novice and above, we should already be praying the Liturgy of the Hours, but can we do more? Adding a daily Rosary is a good practice, and trying to fit in at least 15 minutes of mental or contemplative prayer is also good. As we go about our daily lives, our attitude should be a prayerful one. Prayer is more than just sitting down with a prayer book in hand. Visiting the Blessed Sacrament is prayer, and of course Mass is prayer.
       Almsgiving, the third traditional practice of Lent, is about loving others, and trying to take care of them. If we are fasting, using the money that would normally be spent on eating is an easy way to distribute alms. Perhaps saving just $1 a day and donating it would also be a way to give alms. Remember that it doesn't always have to be money. Many of us have clothes that we don't wear and that only take up space in our closets. Donating your time is also taking care of others. Many parishes have attached food banks, or the local Catholic Charities programs have need of help in their centers. Don't be afraid to give of yourself this season.
       And lastly, remember that all we do should be united with Jesus. If it hurts to fast, unite that hurt with the suffering of Jesus. When we pray, unite that prayer with the prayer of Mary and the Saints. When we distribute alms, do so in an unselfish and loving manner. Jesus taught us not to store up for ourselves treasures on earth, but to store up treasures in Heaven. We won't be able to take it with us when we leave, so we should work on building up that treasure which will last.
       If we practice these traditions with love in our hearts, joyfully awaiting the Solemnity of solemnities, the season of Lent can become much more than simply a liturgical season for us. It can really become for us the "springtime of our souls", and new life can begin to grow in us, so that at Easter, our joy with the risen Christ may be complete.

       I pray that all have a blessed Lent, in Christ,

Winnie

TO IMPROVE COMMUNICATIONS:

An idea to improve communications: To all BSP members, grace and peace to you! We have set up a Yahoo email discussion group, "BSPofStFrancis".
Using the discussion group is easy, and free! To join the group, you need a Yahoo email. Get one for free if you don't have one. Then simply go to
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/bspofstfrancis/ and enter your email address with yahoo.
You may subscribe to individual emails, a daily digest, or you may simply read the emails from the website. This group is for BSP members only, and your email address will be protected. We hope this email group will foster informal discussion within the BSP.

Winnie

WALKING WITH CHRIST By: Mike Brown, BSP - Fairfield, PA

       In these days of great temptation, it is important to remain focused on the life that we have been called to lead. As a new member of the Brothers and Sisters of Penance, I have found that the walk with Christ can be quite challenging and at the same time a wonderful blessing.

        Jesus said, “Take up your cross and follow me”. With this instruction he attempted to provide for us a way of life. The holy lives that we are called to lead as Christians and Catholics should be looked upon as a wonderful gift from God.

        I have had an opportunity that has become both a challenge and a gift. I have returned to college as a non-traditional student at a Catholic College and Seminary to pursue a degree in teacher education. I have always felt drawn to be a teacher and leader in my community and my own children and wife have been such a support for this new adventure.

        I have had the pleasure of meeting some wonderful college students and I have to say that there really is hope in our future leaders. Many of these individuals have strong convictions in their faith and you can see Christ in them by their words and actions. What a wonderful thing to see, as many of today’s youth are more interested in fulfilling the pleasures of the flesh. Jesus’ commandments are a guideline in how to live a Christian life. I am truly grateful to have the opportunity to work with these students and see that they will also be taking up their crosses, following His commands and focusing on the Lord in their careers.

        How has this helped me? When I see people, especially youth, who have a strong love for the Lord, it makes me glad that I can be a model for them to follow, just as Christ was ours. In my education classes we are taught that once a teacher, always a teacher. This analogy makes a very close tie into what it means to be Christian: once a Christian, always a Christian. Whether you are at church, at school, shopping, or out with friends, people judge you by your actions. Therefore, as with teachers, Christians have an obligation to be committed to their chosen lifestyle.

        One of the most intimate ways we are like Jesus is in our free will. Jesus chose to be a teacher of Christianity that would place him under great persecution. We have the freedom to make choices in our lives on a daily basis that either bring us closer to or further away from God. People grow in their faith in different ways. No one said it would be easy to follow and share your love of the Lord with others. But it is your obligation to take your commitment of a Christian lifestyle seriously and make an effort each and everyday to be leaders for the strength of one another and models for our youth to imitate.

Mike

(Mike Brown is the newest member of the BSP—Thanks for the great message Mike!)
 
 

Gaudenzio Ferrari, Annunciation
Annunciation
Author: Gaudenzio Ferrari, 1512
Now in Berlin (Germany), Gemäldegalerie


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 as contained in the First Rule of the Third Order of St. Francis of 1221 for lay people in our modern world. We have the approval of the Catholic Church to do this through several of its bishops. If you are bound by another Rule of life in another profession of the way of St. Francis that does not permit you to enter other religious families you are nonetheless invited to become an Honorary member of our Association and add the elements of this beautiful way of life that Saint Francis of Assisi gave us to the lifestyle of your profession.
All members, and Franciscans, are welcome to submit articles for consideration for inclusion in this newsletter if they are directed towards the spiritual formation of members or are the outgrowth of the lifestyle of the Association or a committed Franciscan life. Just send them to the BSP of St. Francis at the address on this newsletter.
Feel free to share this newsletter with your friends or neighbors. It is intended to be the primary monthly communication of the Association. And if you can find it in your heart and in your budget remember that donations to the BSP are used strictly to promote the lifestyle and are tax deductible. We remain, always, sincerely yours in the love of Jesus Christ!

Bruce and Shelley Fahey BSP


Welcome to all!
Visit our Web site at:
www.bspenance.org

“...I tell you, if you do not repent, you will all perish as they did!” (Luke 13:3)

Have a holy and happy Lent!

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


Communication Center:

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

bspenance@yahoo.com

postmaster@bspenance.org