'FOLLOW ME!'
Luke 9:23

Published for

The BROTHERS AND SISTERS OF PENANCE

Butterfly Symbol of the BSP of Saint Francis

of
          St. Francis

April 2004

FROM THE WRITINGS ON ST. FRANCIS:

The Stigmatization of St. Francis, Giotto, 1319-1328, Bardi Chapel, Church of Santa Croce, Florence, Italy
The Stigmatization of St. Francis
Giotto, 1319-1328
Bardi Chapel, Church of Santa Croce
Florence, Italy
One night, Blessed Francis was so weighed down with sickness and pain that it was almost impossible for him to lie down and sleep. In the morning, since the pains had lessened somewhat, he had all the brothers of the friary summoned. When they were assembled before him, he considered them as representing the brothers of the whole Order. Then, beginning with one brother, he blessed them all by putting his right hand on the head of each one. He also blessed all those who were living in the Order or who were to enter it until the end of the world. He seemed to have compassion for himself because he could not see his sons and brothers before dying.

Then he had breads brought in and he blessed them. Since he was too weak to break them himself, he had them broken by a brother, took the pieces and gave one to each of the brothers, recommending that they eat all of it and not keep any of it. Following the example of the Lord who on Holy Thursday wanted to eat with his apostles before dying, blessed Francis, it seems, not only wanted to bless all the brothers present and in their person the whole Order, but also to eat this blessed bread with them as if they were eating it in the company of all the brothers. We may well believe that such was his intention for, although it was not a Thursday, blessed Francis had said to the brothers that he thought it was Thursday.

One of the brothers kept one of the pieces of bread and after blessed Francis death all those who ate some if it were immediately cured of their sicknesses.

The Legend of Perugia - 1246

COMMENTARY:

Christ suffered His Sorrowful Passion for the salvation of mankind; that all mankind may have eternal life. He blessed mankind for all time, gifting us with the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, saying: "Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you.” (Jn.6:53)

Our dear St. Francis abandoned his life in this world to follow our Beloved Savior, Jesus Christ. He committed to live the gospel life without sparing himself, sharing the Passion of Christ our Savior by following so closely in His footsteps and unwavering in his own painful death that he became known as a “second Christ”. St. Francis offered his own “passion” to bring souls to our Savior. He wanted them to come close to God by living the gospel life. He broke bread with his brothers as a symbolic gesture of the Last Supper. After his death, those who ate of this bread were cured of all of their illness, symbolizing the Eucharist being the health of the soul and confirming the sanctity of the Saint.

Thank you Father Francis for extending your blessing to all who enter into the path that you fashioned for your brotherhood until the end of the world. May we, in the BSP, be among those who have been so blessed.

ADMINISTRATOR’S MESSAGE:
THE MERIT OF PAIN. THE GLORY OF THE RESURRECTION.

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

Easter is the Springtime of the Church year and the greatest holy day of the year. On Easter we see the pain of Christ’s Passion disappear, and life without pain or fear of death born anew never to be extinguished. The wonderful gift of salvation and what it means is made apparent to us. Life eternal, in the spirit and flesh, with God, on high. Praise God for this gift. Thank you Jesus, our Savior, for what you have given us. Hope. Life. Purpose to what we do. A path to build a future on. Unfortunately, if there is no cross for us, there is no crown. That is why the Lord said we should ‘take up our cross, and follow him’, and lose our lives, that is in this world, in his service to gain eternal salvation.

Last year we suffered the weight of a very heavy cross, and ultimately a painful crucifixion, in August when a group of people, whom we considered friends and family, rejected us without explanation or serious cause over what should have been a pretty simple matter to resolve. We all have things like this happen, and believe us, with seven children and fifteen grandchildren, we have known a lot of worry and pain. However, the pain inflicted on that day, which was both unnecessary and uncharitably exercised without warning, deeply afflicted us and many others.

The basic thing that is necessary to cope with these crises is total surrender to the will of God. We had a meeting with our retreat master, Fr. Robert Altier, a couple of weeks back. During the discussion with him we discussed surrender to the Lord. Father Altier said we often say that we surrender without letting go. We asked Father how we might arrive at the point where we mean it when we say we surrender and he said: “When you have been through enough beatings you will mean it when you surrender your life to God.” That made us laugh with all we have been through including the personal crisis mentioned above. But, think about what this says! It is profound! God accepts our surrender to him as fact, even when if we later whine, and he continues to lay the cross on our shoulders until we actually, factually, do begin to conform ourselves to His beloved Son, Jesus Christ, who did perfectly surrender His will to His Father’s will when he accepted death on the cross. God takes us at our word to make us like his Son.

That is not necessarily why these things happen. People do things to us that are not God’s will, even when they excuse themselves as if God did it. God does permit evil, from which He can bring good.

To find the answer we need to look at the cross. Consider the lashings Our Beloved took, which were so accurately depicted in the Mel Gibson movie “The Passion of the Christ”. No one believed Him or wanted to hear what He had to say. They tore Him to shreds, and he was silent. He chose the will of His Father. Yet, it was the price of our salvation.

We all have pain in our lives. Merit comes from bearing it like our Lord did; patiently. As Lent comes to an end may we all realize that God IS the master of history, and he DOES work the details of our lives, especially for those most dear to Him, always towards the end of our salvation. We all need to remember that when bad things are done to us we must move on in peace and love. May the Lord give us all the grace to do that. Blessed be the Lord, and have a holy and happy Easter, and remember, no fasting or abstinence during the Octave of Easter! It is a time of celebration and joy; a great Solemnity. Yours in Christ,

Bruce and Shelley Fahey BSP
The Administrators

BUSINESS UPDATE:
From the Minnesota Communication Center

We recently received a letter from Archbishop Flynn in response to our annual report. He said, among other things: “ Thank you for your recent correspondence, in which you provided me a summary and update on the activities of the Brothers and Sisters of Penance of St. Francis. I am happy to know that your efforts to reconstitute your Association seem to be going so well. I look forward to joining you for the celebration of the Most Holy Eucharist on Saturday evening, July 31st, in Prior Lake. (The Retreat Center)...The important thing, always, is the work of God, and the love of God, in all of our lives. I am confident that if you keep focused on those goals everything else will take care of itself.”

Our membership continues to grow, under God’s continual blessing. We now have over 80 members in the Association. All of these are at some stage in formation with many new postulants. Several of our more advanced members are assisting the Communication Center in doing formation and helping members as Formation Advocates, which is deeply appreciated and a lively and holy ministry.

On formation, every member is free to move at their own pace, and should remember that it is important that they need to “make it work” in their own lives. We are all busy, and change takes time.

Anyone in the United States that contributes to the BSP is covered under our tax-free status the same as for any Catholic Church if any questions come up. Some BSP members have been contacted by an outside person suggesting that we may not have tax free status. We are a bona-fide tax-free non-profit Association under the umbrella of the Church.

Rebecca Maness of Isanti, Minnesota has completed her four years of formation and will be pledging to live the Rule of the BSP at our coming retreat. All members present at the retreat will have the opportunity to be formally inducted, or renew, their levels of formation or membership.

Third Order members in the BSP need not pledge to live the Rule of the BSP if they don’t wish to, in honor of their profession to the Rule of their Third Orders. Our priest advisors, including Father Corey Belden, Father Valerius Messerich and Fr. Robert Altier, have all told us that our Honorary membership status for Third Order members was both good and respectful of our member’s Third Order professions. It makes it possible for anyone in any Third Order to study the Rule of the BSP and make it part of their spiritual life without affecting their profession, if they so chose. For instance, a recent letter we received from the National Fraternity of the Secular Franciscan Order, a major Third Order in America, indicates that they “strongly encourage” SFO members in the BSP “to recommit yourselves to the full charism of the SFO Rule that you have professed...” Our priest advisors have confirmed that no one should pledge or profess to two different Rules of life in the Church. This is why the BSP honors the professions of members to Third Orders. Only 10 % of our members are in Third Orders.

The acronym of the Brothers and Sisters of Penance of St. Francis is ’BSP’, not BSP of SF, if questions come up. Anyone in formation in the Association may put BSP behind their name if they wish.

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:
III. Perfect and Imperfect Obedience

      Our Lord tells us in the Gospel, “Everyone of you who does not renounce all that he possesses cannot be my disciple” (Lk. 14:33), and “He who would save his life will lose it.” (Mt. 16:25). A man takes leave of all he possesses and loses both his body and his life when he gives himself up completely to obedience in the hands of his superior. Any good that he says or does which he knows is not against the will of his superior is true obedience. A subject may realize that there are many courses of action that would be better and more profitable to his soul than what his superior commands. In that case he should make an offering of his own will to God, and do his best to carry out what his superior commands. This is true and loving obedience which is pleasing to God and one’s neighbor.

       If a superior commands his subject anything that is against his conscience, the subject should not spurn his authority, even though he cannot obey him. If anyone persecutes him. a religious would prefer to suffer persecution rather than be separated from his confreres certainly preservers in true obedience, because he lays down his life for his brethren (cf. Jn 15:13). There are many religious who under the pretext of doing something more perfect than what their superior commands look behind and go to their own will that they have given up (cf. Prov. 26:11). People like that are murderers, and by their bad example they cause the loss of many souls.

Winnie Spencer-Dealy
Easter: Our Hope in Christ
By Winnie Spencer-dealy BSP

        The holy liturgical season of Easter is upon us, after the long-lasting Lenten season. We have fasted, we have prayed, we have sacrificed, and now our hopes are to be realized. Let us take a closer look at this feast of Easter, and the holy resurrection of our Lord.

        The Catechism has much to say about the Resurrection: "The Resurrection of Jesus is the crowning truth of our faith in Christ..." (CCC 638). Our crowning truth! Also, "Christ's resurrection is the fulfillment of the promises both of the Old Testament and of Jesus Himself during his earthly life..." (CCC 652). And, "The truth of Jesus' divinity is confirmed by His resurrection..." (CCC 653). So we learn that Jesus' resurrection is the fulfillment of promises, and it confirms His divinity...O Lord, how great Thou art! God confirms and shows forth His omnipotence: "It is in Christ's resurrection and exaltation that the Father has shown forth 'the immeasurable greatness of His power in us who believe...' " (CCC 272). What an awesome God we have, those of us who are proud to be called "believers"!

        So our hope is in Christ, Who was raised from death after three days. "The Paschal mystery has two aspects: by His death, Christ liberates us from sin; by His resurrection, He opens for us the way to a new life." (CCC 654). If it weren't for His death, and then His great resurrection, we would not have been delivered from our sinfulness, but He makes all things new! We may put our faith in Christ alone, as the Scriptures say, "And if Christ has not been raised, then empty (too) is our preaching; empty, too, your faith." (1 Cor. 15:14) If Christ did not rise from the dead, then where would our faith be? Where would our religion be? Where would our hope be? All would be dead, all would be folly, all would be worthless. But we can rejoice that yes, indeed He did die on the Cross for our sins, and then, in glory, He was raised on the third day, opening the way to a new life for us! There is so much that the resurrection has to teach us. It is in and through the resurrection that we place our hope, in Christ. Scriptures also teach us that because Christ was raised from the dead, we too may put our faith in a bodily resurrection. (See 1 Cor. 15)

        When we think of this mystery of mysteries, we are awed and overcome with reverence for our Lord. How great and mighty are You, O Lord! What a holy thing you have done! Your Word has been fulfilled in Christ, Who died for our sins and then rose again! It is surely right for us to commemorate this wondrous feast and festival. We shall rejoice with our families and friends, and all who are believers in the resurrection.

        Therefore, Easter is rightly called "the Feast of feasts", and "the Solemnity of solemnities" (CCC 1169). Easter is a time of celebration, and not a time of penance. Let us lay aside our restrictions and rejoice! A time of feasting and celebration that Christ has risen indeed, alleluia!

Winnie

- RETREAT 2004 -

Prior Lake Retreat Center Chapel
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.

Fr. Robert Altier
Father Robert Altier

To be crucified:

According to the deceased A. W. Tozer, a recently converted individual approached an older Christian and asked the following question: What does it mean to be crucified?

The Christian replied: “ To be crucified implies three things. First, the crucified individual always has their eyes fixed in a single direction; secondly, he cannot turn back; thirdly, he doesn't have any more plans of his own.”

The point is: 1 focus on Christ; 2 accept where you are; and 3 surrender to God’s will.

"Fé para Hoje", Nº 13, 2001

THE WHY OF LIFE - By Anna Ferroni BSP - Italy

The following sentences would have little meaning if they were not accompanied by my own experience of suffering.

For more than 20 years now I have suffered with the effects of clinical depression. I have lived with the tiredness one feels when getting up each morning wearing "dark glasses" which color the present, past and future, as also my human relationships. Due to my depression I suffer also from a lack of self-esteem and worth. Due to my disease, I know the temptation to commit suicide, which arises when I hear within myself a voice that says: "I have no longer the courage to carry on living". I have had to fight it off constantly, and I have learned that I am impotent and radically poor on my own. I have been brought face to face with my inability to find meaning in my life. My daily temptation is to say: "Everything is finished for me, all that is left is for me to die".

What have I learned in this life, during which I have felt so many times the desire to die? I have learned 'Jesus crucified'. The death of Christ, Son of God, accepting fully the human condition, explains to me, and to all of us, the profound meaning of life. The glorious Resurrection is the last word. In the light of the Resurrection, human weakness, including the drama of suffering and death, including my problems, takes on a new meaning.

And, I have learned the value of friends, especially Bruce and Shelley Fahey, and prayers. I find solace now in my friends and work in the BSP, and I ask for the prayers of all so I can continue to slay my dragon, clinical depression. I thank you all for your friendship and prayers for me, and I ask for prayers for my husband, Piercarlo, as well, as he is very ill. I feel stretched, but I will endure, for the love of God.

Thanks! God bless you!

Anna

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

Saint Francis
CHAPTER I: DAILY LIFE

3. The sisters in turn shall wear an outer garment and tunic made of cloth of the same price and humble quality; or at least they are to have with the outer garment a white or black under wrap or petticoat, or an ample linen gown without gathers, the price of an ell of which is not to exceed twelve Pisa denars. As to this price, however, and the fur cloaks they wear a dispensation may be given according to the estate of the woman and the custom of the place. They are not to wear silken or dyed veils and ribbons.

  • For the Love of God - This is most certainly a call to women to decide how to dress! It does seem that long skirts, and/or loose, comfortable, clothes would fit what is stated here. Nothing here says a woman should not try to be beautiful and the physical beauty of human form is one of God's gifts to us. While we ought not flaunt it, we can nonetheless appreciate it for what it is, remembering that it is only one of many such gifts, the greatest gifts of which he has given us are spiritual, the human intellect, will, and memory, i.e. the human soul.

    Other points made in this article don’t necessarily fit as drafted but do by intent on closer consideration. For instance, while practically everything is dyed these days (“They are not to wear silken or dyed veils or ribbons.”), not everything is gaudy. So one can avoid “idle or unnecessary” show in their clothes, and instead observe a strong measure of simplicity of both style and color.

    Another testimony being made here is that whatever an "ell" or a "Pisa denars" were we can be confident they were modest sums, again calling us to avoid expensive clothes. Ribbons, veils, lace and silk have their place when they do, today's dress being considerably different than in the time of St. Francis. Of course, it is also true that one could embrace these aspects of the First Rule as an act of penance and salutary reminder, to oneself, of the need for simplicity.

  • For the Love of God - It is recorded that St. Francis warned his brothers never to judge or criticize those who live in luxury, eat fastidiously, and indulge in superfluous and splendid clothes: God, he said, is their Lord and ours; he has the power to call them to himself and to justify them. Let us sincerely ponder this lesson from Father Francis. God can justify anyone for “all things are possible with God” (Mk 10:27). If He chooses he can use our “riches” to save us. So, criticize no one and do not be covetous of your neighbors goods.

  • For the Love of God - We should all love Mary, both Mother of God and our mother, as did St. Francis and all the Saints. We in this modern age have been uniquely and especially blessed by her through her regular appearances over the last two centuries, even to her appearances of today. As Catholics we cannot deny approved appearances. And, although we need not believe in them personally they are a source of spiritual treasure for many of Christ’s Faithful.

    Whatever value you feel her appearances have, whether you believe in them or not, recognize that you cannot deny approved apparitions of Our Lady, and do not criticize those who do believe in them. Scripture explicitly states, “Do not despise prophetic utterances” (1 Thes 5:20) and her appearances are usually very prophetic in nature.

    If we criticize others for believing in an alleged apparition, what are we trying to prove? That they are wrong? What if Our Lord sends His Mother to one of us and to only one? Who do we think we are to say that He cannot do that when the entire matter is neither up to us nor necessary to salvation. It might just be that they are worthy and we are not! So let’s not condemn those who find meaning in the appearances of Our Lady in our modern world unless the Church has itself condemned the alleged appearance. Then and only then can we, too, condemn the alleged appearance, as what is not condemned by the Church might still be approved. What will we do if we have condemned a particular appearance of Our Lady and the Church then approves it? Let us all be wise here!

    However, what we can do is consider how Mary has dressed in her modern appearances to the world. Just considering the approved appearances of Our Lady to the modern world we know more of our Mother than we can even learn from the Scriptures. Review and consider how she looked at LaSalette, Lourdes, Fatima, and elsewhere. She has never appeared to us dressed lavishly except on her feast days. She is Our Queen Mother and the Mother of God. She who is always a model of human and spiritual virtues for us speaks gently, condemns no one, and admonishes us carefully, always respecting our free will. She has always appeared to us dressed very nicely, but simply. What does that say? Ask yourself how she would dress were she on earth today. And then ponder the words of the magnificat wherein Our Lady expresses her joy in her “lowliness”.


[*] 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.

Paul Beery
NO GREATER LOVE: by PAUL BEERY

        Reflections on “The Passion of the Christ,” which did not disappoint.

        The second time around was almost as powerful as the first. If this movie does not bring one to tears, then one has a heart of stone. “Even the stones will cry out.” If only there had been complete silence in the theatre for at least an hour after the movie ended. Time was needed to deal with raw emotion, as though one had been turned inside out.
After catching a glimpse of the supreme sacrifice of the Son of God, how can one express a feeling of wonder and awe? We read the words, we hear the story, but we remain aloof. Sight, sound, scourging, blood everywhere, Jesus suffering; the drama burns into our consciousness.
What can I do for you, Jesus, how can I relieve your suffering?

        If I were a confessor, I would require those who committed a serious sin, especially a sin of the flesh, to watch the entire movie for their penance – with the express intention of asking: “Jesus, how can I relieve your suffering?”

        If I were a spiritual director, I would counsel those who have serious temptations to immediately think of, or watch if possible, the scourging of Jesus with the intention of asking: “Jesus, do I want to do that to you?”

        If I were a penitent, I would cry out with David; “A crushed and broken heart, O Lord, you will not spurn.” You have said, Lord, that we must forgive our brother seventy times seven. How many times have You forgiven me? Will the time ever come when I never offend You again? Can I be like Simon of Cyrene who came to your rescue: “STOP, STOP! If you don’t stop (beating Him) I won’t carry this cross another step. I don’t care what you do to me.” Give me the same look, Lord, and pierce me through. Give me that kind of courage. Make me stop scourging You. Make me lighten your load, Lord, and help You carry my cross.

        “All you who pass by the way, look and see if there be any sorrow like my sorrow.” Mary our Mother, you followed Jesus faithfully in your fiat, even to the greatest sorrow of all, the scourging of your Son: “It has begun, Lord. So be it.” He could always count on you. As a little child falls, “I’m here.” In the temple, at Cana, during His ministry, wiping His precious Blood, Jesus fallen under the weight of the cross, in the dust, forsaken, “I’m here.” And Jesus said: “See Mother, I make all things new.”

        Peter: “Wherever you go, Lord, I will follow, even to my death.” Wrong. But Jesus gave Peter a look of forgiveness. He went to Mary: “I have denied Him, Mother,” and he wept bitterly. To Jesus through Mary; to Mary through Jesus: true repentance. “Who is your father? Who are you?” asks Satan. The mystery portrayed beautifully in the garden, throughout the Passion. The answer? A mighty foot upon the head of the serpent! And when Jesus gave up His Spirit to the Father, a disconsolate demon in the pit of hell wailing for all eternity – a fatal case of mistaken identity.

        “Flesh of my flesh, heart of my heart, let me die with you.” Mary kisses the feet of Jesus on the cross, His blood mingles with her tears. Mother of sorrows, turn our sorrow into joy, mingle your love with our tears. Let us hear the good thief: “Listen, He prays for you.” Listen and understand, see and hear for yourself: there is no greater love!

Paul
Morning Star Chapter—BSP

A NATIVE AMERICAN STORY

An elder Cherokee Native American was teaching his grandchildren about life.

He said to them, "A fight is going on inside me, it is a terrible fight and it is between two great wolves!”

One wolf is evil --
he is fear,
anger,
envy,
sorrow,
greed,
control,
arrogance,
self-pity,
self-righteousness,
resentment,
inferiority,
lies,
false pride,
hate,
superiority,
and ego.

The other wolf is good --
he is love,
peace,
joy,
generosity,
hope,
humility,
serenity,
kindness,
friendship,
freedom,
empathy,
truth,
sharing,
compassion,
simplicity,
and faith.

This same fight is going on inside you, and inside every other person, too."

They thought about it for a minute and then one child asked his grandfather, "Which wolf will win?"
The old Cherokee simply replied,

"The one you feed."

FRANCISCAN SAINTS: Saint Catherine of Genoa
"Since I began to love, love has never forsaken me. It has ever grown to its own fullness within my innermost heart."

Saint Catherine of Genoa
St. Catherine of Genoa (1447-1510) was born to an aristocratic family. From early on she was attracted to the spiritual life. Her sister was already a canoness regular and her confessor was the chaplain of that convent. When she asked to be received, they decided that she was too young. Then her father died and, for dynastic reasons, her widowed mother insisted that the 16-year-old marry a wealthy man, Giuliano Adorno, and although this step was contrary to her wishes, yet her great simplicity, submission, and reverence for her parents gave her patience to endure it.

Her husband was unfaithful, violent, and a spendthrift. The first five years of their marriage, Catherine suffered in silence. Then she determined to win her husband's affection by adopting worldly airs. She sought to divert herself from the great vexations which her husband caused her, by associating with other ladies, and occupying herself with the affairs of the world as they did. As it turns out, this only made her unhappy because she lost the only consolation that had previously sustained her: her religious life. Ten years into her marriage, Catherine was a very unhappy woman; her husband had reduced them to poverty by his extravagance.

In 1473, life changed for Catherine after she experienced a profound spiritual conversion. She experienced a sort of ecstasy. She was overwhelmed by her sins and, at the very same time, by the infinite love of God for her. Very plainly too did she see all the offences she had committed against him, and cried out continually: "Oh Love, no more sin, no more sin!"

This experience was the foundation for an enduring awareness of the presence of God and a fixed attitude of soul. She was drawn back to the path of devotion of her childhood. Within a few days she had a vision of our Lord carrying His cross, which caused her to cry out, "O Love, if it be necessary I am ready to confess my sins in public!" On the Solemnity of the Annunciation she received the Eucharist, the first time with fervor for ten years.

She began going out into the streets of Genoa, caring for the poor. Giuliano then experienced a conversion too. They joined the Franciscan Third Order.

To live a simple and charitable life according to the 1221 Rule, life, Catherine and Giuliano moved into a small house near the Pammatone Hospital in Genoa, and began working there for free.

Catherine also performed many penances. For four years she made extraordinarily long fasts without abating her charitable activities. She was sometimes asked, when practising mortifications: "Why are you doing this?" And she answered: "I do not know, but I feel myself interiorly and irresistibly drawn to do so, and I believe that this is the will of God; but it is not his will that I should have any object in it." And it seemed indeed to be the truth, for, at the end of four years, all these mortifications ended, so that if she still wished to practice them, she could no longer have done so.

In 1479 Catherine and Giuliano moved into the hospital, and in 1490 Catherine was appointed Director, a post she held until 1496. During her Directorship the disastrous plague of 1493 hit the city. Four-fifths of the citizens who had remained in Genoa perished. Later that year Giuliano died.

After relinquishing the Directorship Catherine continued working at the hospital. Catherine died in 1510 after several years of declining health. Her bodily frame was shattered by sufferings from head to foot, so that there was not a limb or nerve that was not tormented. She appeared as transfixed to the cross, abandoned to her sufferings, with no desire but for the Blessed Sacrament.

Saint Catherine of Genoa
During her final years she spoke to friends about her spiritual experiences. These teachings were later written down and transmitted in two treatises, On Purgation and Purgatory and The Spiritual Dialogue.

We know Catherine's mystical life from these works, which were examined by the Holy Office and pronounced to contain doctrine that would be enough, in itself, to prove her sanctity. She experienced a deep conflict between her humanity and the spirit. She was attracted by divine love, suspended in the air, drawn up by intense desire to reach heaven, yet attached to earth by her human part. Sometimes she could hardly breathe so great was the vehemence of her inward fire.

Sometimes she uttered expressions like these: "I see without eyes, hear without understanding, feel without feeling, and taste without tasting. I know neither form nor measure; for without seeing I yet behold an operation so divine that the words I first used, perfection, purity, and the like seem to me now mere lies in the presence of the truth. The sun which once looked so bright is now dark; what was sweet is now bitter, because sweetness and beauty are spoiled by contact with creatures. Nor can I any longer say: `My God, my All.' Everything is mine, for all that is God's seems to be wholly mine. Neither in heaven nor on earth shall I ever again use such words, for I am mute and lost in God."

Catherine is an outstanding example of the religious contemplative who combines the spiritual life with competence in practical affairs. Her example encourages us to seek the integration of action and prayer. The time of contemplative prayer is the place of encounter between the creative vision of union with Christ and its incarnation in daily life. Without this daily confrontation, the contemplative vision can stagnate into a privatized game of perfectionism or succumb to the subtle poison of seeking one's own satisfaction in prayer. On the other hand, without the contemplative vision, daily renewed in contemplative prayer, action can become self-centered and forgetful of God.

Union with God might be likened to the transformation of a worm into a butterfly. The life of a butterfly totally transcends that of a worm, but the worm contributes to the process by weaving its own cocoon. By living the Rule, we too weave our cocoon, die to self, and await the moment of resurrection.

Yet she was always fearful of "the contagion of the world's slow stain" that had separated her from God in the early years of her marriage. She converted, and lived a penitential life. She underwent the purification of the soul that we find in many saints' lives. At first, the soul enters in the depth of repentance to be strippen, being illuminated by the purging light of the gift of understanding. The soul experiences the infinite purity of God, and by contrast becomes conscious of his own sinfulness. The fruits of conversion are true humility, and a living faith that begins to savor the mysteries of the supernatural things. But the most perfect fruit of conversion is a very great love of God, a pure and strong love, that hesitates before no difficulties or persecutions. This love, which is hunger and thirst after the justice of God, may be given to us.

Submitted by Anna Ferroni—Turin, Italy

Perugino, the Crucifixion with the Virgin, St. John, St. Jerome, and St. Mary Magdalene
The Crucifixion with the Virgin and St. John, St. Jerome (left side panel), and St. Mary Magdalene (right side panel)
Author: Peter Vannucchi, named Perugino, 1485
The National Gallery of Art, Washington DC


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



Visit our Web site at:
www.bspenance.org
A lot of new pages (prayers and meditations) in the Reading Room.

“One goes more quickly to heaven from a hut than from a palace”.- St. Francis of Assisi

Welcome to the Brothers and Sisters of Penance!

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


Communication Center:

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

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