'FOLLOW ME!'
Luke 9:23

Published for the Lay Association of

The BROTHERS AND SISTERS OF PENANCE

Butterfly Symbol of the BSP of Saint Francis

of
          St. Francis

July 2005

St. Francis holy card

FROM THE WRITINGS ON ST. FRANCIS:

During one Lent at Mount La Verna, it so happened that one day at mealtime his companion lit a fire in the cell where he ate. After starting the fire, he went and found the saint in the cell where he was praying and resting in order to read to him, as usual, the gospel of that day's Mass.
When blessed Francis could not hear Mass, he wanted the gospel of the day read to him before eating. When he arrived to eat in the cell where the fire had been lit, the flames had already reached the roof and it was beginning to burn.
His companion tried to put it out as best he could but, being all alone, he was unsuccessful. Blessed Francis did not want to help him; but he carried away a pelt with which he covered himself when he went into the forest at night. The brothers of the friary, which was situated at some distance from the cell built apart from it, hurried as soon as they saw the fire and extinguished it.
Blessed Francis returned to eat. After the meal he said to his companion; "I will never use that pelt again to cover myself, for I sinned through avarice by not wanting my Brother Fire to consume it."

Legend of Perugia 1246

COMMENTARY: by Bruce and Shelley Fahey BSP

     There are many lessons in this simple writing on St. Francis which we can ponder in developing our own lifestyles of faith. Surprisingly, the Saint did not get to Mass everyday. However, when he did not go he had the gospel of that day read to him to participate in the Holy Sacrifice at least on some basis. He was concerned to attend even when he could not make it and so compensated for it by listening to the gospel.

     Just so can we in our day, if we cannot attend Mass, compensate for it by reading the gospel of that day in our homes, or offering some prayer out of respect for the Mass, even though our Rule does not require us to attend daily Mass. We can make it a meditation to reflect on the Mass every day, and part of our prayer.

     Also, it is a surprise that St. Francis did not want to help the brother put out the fire. At least until we read the last line in which he addresses "brother fire". St. Francis accepted everything God created in nature, animate and inanimate, as co-creatures with him of the same good God. Hence he called the sun and moon; fire and water, and everything in creation his brothers and sisters. In this story, his immediate acceptance of the right for his brother fire to exist and burn things kept him from putting the fire out, except to grab from brother fire what he instinctively felt he might need later, the pelt he used to cover himself with when he slept in the forest. Because he took the pelt from brother fire, he felt he was guilty of avarice because he did not surrender it to his brother, fire. His feelings of avarice for wanting to keep the pelt safe from brother fire bothered him so much that he said he would never enjoy the pelt again in his life.

     One can only wonder how deeply the Saint pondered his relationship with God so as to feel that God would be offended because he tried to save a pelt to cover himself with. St. Francis tried in all of his life to maintain this incredible spirit of detachment from all created things. The issue wasn't that he did not need the pelt to cover himself with when he had to sleep outdoors. He knew he did need something. That real issue was the fact that he wanted the pelt so much that he saved it from the fire rather than accept God's will regarding its imminent consummation. He did not trust God to give him one should he need one again. So he faulted himself. In just such a way we should all learn to trust God in all things.

Bruce Fahey and Shelley, his wife, BSP Administrators Bruce Fahey and Shelley, his wife, BSP Administrators
ADMINISTRATORS MESSAGE:
About Mission...
by Bruce and Shelley Fahey BSP

Dear Members and Friends,

Everyone who comes to the BSP has a mission. In fact, every human being has some kind of a mission from God, and many of us spend our lives striving to discover what it is. Unfortunately, many people have no interest in serving God. For them we must pray. Our mission though is not always so apparent. The Word of God, the Gospel contains many statements that can guide us.

      We are all to let our light shine before men: "You are the light of the world. A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket; it is set on a lamp stand, where it gives light to all in the house." (Matt. 5:15), and that isn't even possible unless we have the light of Christ within us. We cannot hide this light. We need to put it on the lamp-stand of our lives and daily contacts with others, for as long as we are able to do that. If we have it within us we can give it to others. If we do not, we cannot. The BSP is all about helping people to find that light in themselves and their lives, and to make it brighter. The light of faith, prayer; and of self- discipline.

      No one would enter the life of penance without the light of faith. That faith is the driving force within us that begins as an inspiration in most of us; grows to an interest; and hopefully becomes a passion. Faith is a gift, and is conviction about things unseen. Most every one of our members has a story of their own faith conversion. They usually see it in hindsight. It came into existence by decisions that they made to find God. To pray more, read more, work more, for God and often in adoration of the Blessed Sacrament or in some other way, to come to know God on an ever more personal basis.

      The passion of these evolving commitments to the things of God calls us ever closer to Christ, who Himself is the Way the Truth and the Light of the call we feel. It takes this passion to bring us to ultimately make a decision to pursue holiness as a possible reality defined in the Gospel. Our Lord said, "Be holy as your Father is holy." Ultimately this desire for a permanent closeness to the Lord can lead to us making a pledge to live a life of penance, the elements of the Rule of 1221, the Rule of the BSP, as an ongoing, unselfish act of faith to the living God, who Himself called us to this penance to begin with. He said "I tell you, if you do not repent, you will all perish…" (Lk. 13:3). Hell is big enough to swallow us all. Beware!

      As we enter the life of penance we realize we must pray more. In doing that our life of prayer brings us to the desire for being more closely connected to God in some way. Even those who do only a little in their life of faith hope ultimately for the final connection to God in heaven. We hope to develop that connection here, through the life of penance we live. We hope to have one foot in heaven even as we walk on the earth. To be on the earth., that is, "In the world, but not of it", for Christ. Christ is to be all things in us, and in Him we find our mission. The doors open to it in the discipline of the Rule we live.

      We have been given the mission to 'create an Association of people who live according to the Rule of 1221.' We can tell you unequivocally that the call to do this came from Christ. Beyond that we hold the story for the history files. With that call came, the passion and energy to do it. The Lord never told us how to do it, but His Providence has guided us from day one. The Lord did not tell us how big the Association would become. He showed us it would be closely wound on the rod of Franciscan discipline. The Association is not about membership. It is about commitment of those who come to lead this life of penance for Christ. Everything else is secondary.

      The people called to this Rule have a mission also. To live it for Christ in their own homes and in friendship with one another. They enter a marathon where everyone finishes in heaven. They need not be troubled with the direction the Association is going. We are in the hands of Christ and He is with us. Be confident and joyful that when St. Francis gave us this Rule he gave us a path to heaven. That is what the people asked him for and the Rule is his gift to us drawn from the Heart of Christ. All of the Rules of St. Francis came from Jesus Himself.

Blessed be the Lord!

Bruce and Shelley Fahey BSP

Janet Klasson
A meditation by Janet Klasson BSP

     He proposed another parable to them. "The kingdom of heaven may be likened to a man who sowed good seed in his field. While everyone was asleep his enemy came and sowed weeds all through the wheat, and then went off. When the crop grew and bore fruit, the weeds appeared as well. […] His slaves said to him, 'Do you want us to go and pull (the weeds) up?' He replied, 'No, if you pull up the weeds you might uproot the wheat along with them. Let them grow together until harvest; then at harvest time I will say to the harvesters, "First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles for burning; but gather the wheat into my barn." (Matthew 13:24-26, 29-30 )

     This passage is taken from the Gospel reading for the 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time. In the above parable, Jesus tells us that the wheat and the weeds will grow side-by-side until the harvest. He also implies that at times it may be difficult to tell wheat from weeds. In his care for those he has planted, the master of the harvest waits until he is absolutely certain which is which. He does not want to risk losing even one of those he has planted.

      This parable fills me with great joy, because in the past, I have not always behaved in a way that would readily identify me as one God has planted in his field. Even now, as I learn to embrace the penitential lifestyle, I sometimes find the old habits are harder to break than I would like. As St. Paul says in Romans 7: "For I do not do the good I want, but I do the evil I do not want." So the assurance that God is patient is good news for me indeed!

      It is also good news for those whose souls I am concerned about. They, like me, are not always identifiable as ones God has planted. But the Lord of the harvest is merciful. He waits and watches. He will not make hasty judgments. And by implication, he asks me not to make them either.

      I have an elderly friend who was married late in life to a man she did not really know that well. She left home and family, and came to a new country to be with him. She soon began to think that perhaps she had made a mistake. He new husband was demanding, controlling and manipulative. She was devoted to the Lord; he was agnostic. She suffered greatly. Even the man's own relatives encouraged her to leave him. But, by some mysterious intuition, she knew she needed to stay. Her faith sustained her as she turned to God for comfort.

      By the time I met her she had been married for 20 years and her husband was in the early stages of Parkinson's disease. This did not improve his disposition. Nor did it help when she could no longer care for him at home and had to place him in a care home. Even then, she went every day to visit him and to help him. She bought him a crucifix for his room and talked to him as frequently as was prudent about the love of God. And she prayed for him.

      As his illness progressed, he gradually began to change towards her. Then, one day as she tried once again to tell him that God loved him, he said, "I know that God loves me, because he sent me you." It was not many months later that he died, reconciled to his wife and to God.

      My friend is convinced that God sent her to this man for the very reason to bring him home. The Lord of the harvest did not see the weed that the rest of the world, including his own family, saw. He saw the wheat he had planted, the grain he wanted to harvest. All he needed was a willing worker. He found one in my friend, someone who imitated Jesus in laying down her life for another.

      This story humbles me, because so often I am tempted to write people off as weeds. I pray for the grace to see each soul as God sees him or her. I pray that by embracing a life of penance I will imitate the Lord in laying down my life each day for others. In this way, by His grace, may we all become willing workers in the harvest of souls.

      (Important note: Please do not infer by this story that I believe that those in abusive situations should remain in them. This, I believe was a special case. It is always advisable to discuss any such situations with a spiritual director or pastor.)

Janet Klasson BSP

Paul Beery
NO GREATER LOVE:
by PAUL BEERY BSP

"Work for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. It is My Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world. I am the bread of life, the living bread that comes down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread he will live forever. This bread is my flesh. Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood REMAINS IN ME AND I IN HIM" Jn. Ch. 6

"And when they have confessed their sins with due contrition, they should receive the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ with great humility and reverence, remembering the words of our Lord Himself: ‘He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has life everlasting,' and ‘Do this in remembrance of Me.'" Jn 6, 55, and Lk 22, 19." Rule of St. Francis, Ch. 20

      To love is to wish to be NEAR THE BELOVED. Not just for a minute, a day, or a week. Near them ALWAYS. If love is not eternal, for all time, it's not true love. Paul compares the love of Christ for His Church to spousal love, calling the Church the Bride of Christ. What's special about married love? In God's plan it is to last a lifetime. Human beings, mere creatures, seek union as the fulfillment of their love, as the two become one. How much more does God, who is called LOVE, seek the ultimate fulfillment of His love for us? Jesus wishes to become ONE with us, wishes that the two become one - and not just for a lifetime, but for all eternity. He can't get any closer to us than to be WITHIN us! And not only to abide with us, but form the very substance of our being into His own IMAGE! "Give us this day our daily bread: the bread of God who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world."

      Who could ask for anything more than to be nourished by this divine Bread of Life? The Creator courting the creature. God is giving us a part of Himself! It seems so impossible people can't believe it. They didn't at the time of Christ, and they don't today. How many inheritors of the Judeo/Christian tradition actually believe these wordsof Jesus, and have acted upon them? Many of the disciples who heard the Savior Himself didn't; they walked away. From a distance we make our choice. "Blessed are they who have not seen, yet have believed." We hear the same Word: what's our response? How sad that many miss the Fullness of Life Jesus offers, even some of those who most ardently seek Him.

      Most of the Jews failed to even recognize Jesus as the Messiah. God had been preparing the Chosen People for that very day ever since the time of Abraham, who was asked to offer the supreme sacrifice: his only son. Thus the very concept of sacrifice was introduced: complete submission to the will of God by offering to Him what is MOST DEAR to us.

      Abraham and his descendents substituted animal sacrifice as a sign of their personal offering. This symbolic sacrifice was carried out through the levitical priesthood in preparation for the day the true Lamb of God would be sacrificed for the life of the world. After the chief priests failed to recognize the Fulfillment of their worship, their world disintegrated. For all practical purposes, the Jewish religion almost disappeared with the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple by the Romans in 70 AD (as Jesus predicted. This punishment makes sense in light of Matthew, Chapter 23. Early in the third century some of the Jews of the diaspora gathered in council to reconstitute their religion in its current form. Having lost the temple, the priesthood, and the sacrifice, all that remained of their glorious inheritance was the Torah and the Talmud).

      The One Church kept the Covenant made with Abraham, and inherited the traditions of the Chosen People, which became the Judeo/Christian tradition. The Apostolic Church codified the New Covenant of the Savior in light of the Old, defined and preserved Sacred Scripture in its entirety. The Catholic Church became the new Temple, preserving the priesthood for the ultimate sacrifice of the Lamb of God, Jesus who came down from heaven to be our Bread of Life. The Holy Church understood the necessity of the priesthood for this ultimate sacrifice. God doesn't produce a key element of His Plan and then abandon it because some of His followers do. "I have come not to abandon the law, but to fulfill it." Animal sacrifice is done, but the Divine Sacrifice continues – the Lamb of God re-presented on the altar of the new Temple: "As OFTEN as you do this, do it in remembrance of Me."

      We know the reverence our holy father Francis held for priests, even those living less than holy lives, because only they had the power to bring him the Bread of Life. Mother Teresa said time and again the renewal of the Church depended on holy priests. She said: "If we wish to know the love of Jesus THEN, look at the Cross (‘There is NO GREATER LOVE, than that one lay down his life for his friends'). If we wish to know His love NOW, look at the HOST." And we can only see that Host when the Bread of Life is made flesh sacramentally, by a priest (‘another Christ') on the altar of the new Temple. "You are a priest forever, according to the order of Melchisedek." There, and only there, do we receive Jesus, the Bread of Life, and fulfill the greatest desire of our Savior. God who is Love is now able to express His ultimate love for us: not only to be ALWAYS NEAR US, but WITHIN US. With this daily sacrifice upon the altars of the Church, every person born into the world has the same opportunity as the disciples to meet and say to Jesus: "Yes, Lord, I believe. I trust You in Your desire to give us Your very Body and Blood. I will not walk away because it surpasses my understanding. I accept Your Holy Will by which You wish to love me fully and completely, not only being NEAR me always, but WITHIN me as food for an eternal journey, the fulfillment of the GREATEST LOVE STORY of all time."

      Many converts enter the Church because they hunger for the Bread of Life. They realize that Jesus really meant what He said! He was serious enough to say to those who didn't: "Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His Blood, you have no life in you." I have a great deal of compassion for our separated brethren, who must get along without this spiritual sustenance: "the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you." We in the Catholic Church have been given free access to the completeness of God's grace. As members of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, we have inherited the tradition of the Chosen People: the Word of God, the Church (temple), the priesthood, and the sacrifice - the Lamb of God who nourishes us DAILY – the Fullness of Life. Our separated brethren must endure with only some fraction of the fullness of this treasure. Yet many disdain the WHOLE for a PART: preaching and fellowship without the Bread of Life? Do those who sincerely seek Jesus REALLY BELIEVE what He says so clearly and explicitly? It's shocking that Fundamentalists, who are supposed to take the Word of God literally, miss the most fundamental element of Sacred Scripture where Jesus, from beginning to end, proclaims Himself to be the Bread of Life! "They recognized Him in the breaking of the Bread." Missing that point is like missing the forest because there are too many trees, or like believing the earth is still flat! Who could be satisfied eating the crumbs off the floor instead of participating in the Banquet? Perhaps listening for a lifetime to a protest – and its accompanying prejudice - is too much to overcome. As if the Holy Spirit overslept one day after 1500 years and things got away from Him. Is it a negative legacy - being against something so strongly it's not possible to think straight (applies politically as well)? To think critically, objectively? "No, we won't cooperate, we won't get along, we won't unite for the common good: our protest continues in spite of reality." And we listen to Jesus, praying for UNITY: "I have given them the glory that You gave Me, that THEY may be ONE as WE are ONE."(Jn 17,22) Wow. A certain humility and prayerfulness is needed here, and many are being led to it. "The Journey Home" on EWTN chronicles the struggle of those who can no longer live without the Fullness of Life Jesus has given us in our daily Bread: His Body and Blood in the Eucharist, a true Holy Communion. And Jesus remains with us afterwards as love dictates through His Real Presence in the Blessed Sacrament. Dear God of LOVE, we believe in You, hope in You, love You, trust You, and are most grateful that You desire to freely pour out the Fullness of Your Love upon us through the Church, Your Bride.

      Dear Brothers and Sisters of Penance, we have an unparalleled opportunity to share not only our lives, but our Sacred Fortune at the BSP retreat the end of July. I wouldn't miss it for anything; please make the extra effort to be there. If there's anything comparable to receiving God's Love, it's sharing it!

Paul

IT IS A BEAUTIFUL THING: By Mary Ann Schwing BSP

With all that I have been through in the past seven years and all of the things that are going on in the world (ie, abortion, euthenasia etc...) I have come to the understanding that I (not just my body) belong to God. He makes the decision when we are conceived and He makes the decision as to when we die.

All we have to do is love Him and trust Him and ask for His help through His son Jesus and Our Blessed Mother Mary. It's a beautiful thing!

Love & Joy!

Mary Ann Schwing BSP

FRANCISCAN SAINTS: Saint Bridget of Sweden (1303-1373)

Saint Bridget
An exceptional woman, a strong witness for ecumenism.

St. Bridget of Sweden is a powerful representative of Catholic laywomen. She is venerated by the Catholic Church and by Protestant, Anglican and Othodox Churches too. This great Scandinavian Saint worked staunchly for the peace in Europe in times marked from religious divisions, wars and political unbalances. "She had a profound sense of the mystery of Christ and the Church, which led her to take part in building up the ecclesial community at a quite critical period in the Church's history", said Pope John Paul II.

Bridget Birgersdotter was born north of Stockholm around 1303 into a wealthy, powerful family. Shortly after her birth, Bridget lost her saintly mother. Her father then undertook to raise her with the aid of an aunt.

At age seven, Bridget reported a vision of an altar with a lady sitting above it, holding a crown and inviting Bridget to wear it. At the age of ten God favored her with a vision of the Crucified. The thought of the torments which our Lord endured on Calvary affected her so deeply that she shed copious tears, and from that moment the Sacred Passion was the subject of her meditation. Throughout her life, she continued to speak of divine revelations, which usually focused on the sufferings of Jesus. These revelations made Bridget something of a celebrity to some and a controversial figure to others. In them, Bridget recognized the voice of Christ entrusting her with a special mission and guiding her step by step by a series of extraordinary mystical graces. She compiled her revelations into a nine-volumes book, which was later translated into Latin as well as into Middle English and other languages. This book was very popular in the Middle Ages and encouraged the formation of her following.

She wished to consecrate her virginity to her Lord; but, obedient to the wish of her father, she married Prince Ulf Gudmarsson, a young man of solid virtue and in every way deserving of her. Both joined the Third Order of St. Francis in order to strengthen themselves in the works of piety and the practice of penance. God blessed their marriage with eight children, and Bridget made it her sacred duty to raise them in the fear of God. After her children were born, St. Bridget and her husband made a vow of chastity.

Following the death of their youngest son, Birgitta and her husband made a pilgrimage on foot to Santiago de Compostela, Spain, and visited the grave of the Apostle St. James. They witnessed for themselves the 100 years war between France and England which threatened European unity together with the banishment of the pope to Avignon which threatened the unity of the Church. This pilgrimage was a life changing experience for the couple. On the return from Compostela Ulf fell ill and received the last sacraments at Arras. While he lay ill she had a vision of St Dionysius, the Patron Saint of France, telling her to stop the Hundred Years' War between the Kings of France and England. She wrote letters to Edward III of England and Philippe VI of Valois, but they remained deaf to her words. Ulf finally recovered as Bridget had foreseen in the vision of Saint Denis, and the couple vowed to devote their lives to God in religious houses. Ulf entered the Cistercian monastery at Alvastra, where he died in 1344.

After the death of her husband, in 1344 she embraced a life of poverty and prayer. Bridget now divided her estate among her children and the poor, clothed herself in a grey habit with a cord for a girdle, and began to lead a very austere life.

When her visions and revelations became frequent, she grew afraid that she might be imagining them all. After experiencing the same vision three times, she submitted them to Master Matthias, canon of Linkoeping. He pronounced her visions to be originated from God. From that point until her death, she submitted them to Peter, the prior of Alvastra.

A vision commanded her to go to court and warn Magnus of the judgment of God on his sins. She did so, denouncing the whole royal court in her warning. Magnus briefly changed his ways, and endowed a monastery, which Bridget, in response to a vision in 1344, planned to found at Vadstena on Lake Vattern. In 1347, guided by her ongoing revelations, she established a "double community" of women and men—nuns, priests and brothers. The monastery provided for 60 nuns. There was a separate enclosure for monks, including 13 priests (in honor of the twelve apostles and Saint Paul), four deacons (representing the four great Latin Doctors of the Church), and eight choir brothers not in orders, totalling the number of the Lord's apostles and disciples (12 plus 72 or 84 in all).

Bridget prescribed a constitution, which was said to have been dictated to her by the Savior in a vision. The men were subject to the abbess of nuns in temporal matters, but the women were subject to the men in spiritual ones, the reason for which men were asked to join. The convents were separate, and while they used the same church, it was designed so that the men and women could not see one another. The community was named the Order of the Most Holy Savior, or the Brigittines, as they came to be called. Members, including Bridget and her daughter Catherine (St. Catherine of Sweden), lived austere lives. Any unneeded money went to the poor. Brigittines were permitted, however, to own books, and the monastery became the literary center of Scandinavia.

In 1349, just as the Black Plague was sweeping through Europe, Bridget travelled to Rome with her confessor, Peter of Skeninge, and others for the 1350 Jubilee even though there was no Pope in residence there. Her purpose was dual: to obtain papal approval for her new religious foundation and to gain the Jubilee indulgence that would be granted during the Holy Year in 1350. Her patience and perseverance were put to the test: she waited 20 years before receiving official Church approval for her new order.

In Rome, Bridget stayed in Piazza Farnese in the house which is now the House of St. Bridget still occupied by a congregation of Brigittine Sisters. In the Church of San Francesco a Ripa, she was visited by a vision of Saint Francis of Assisi. She took this to be an invitation to visit Assisi, which she did. Bridget toured the shrines of Italy for two years.

Back to Rome, she settled down to devote herself to the poor, reform monasteries, and to lobby for the return of the pope to the city. Rome was hardly hospitable. Parts of the city lay in ruins while other parts were divided into armed camps headed by rival factions. Bridget was a great mystic but also a very practical woman, therefore as soon as she settled to Rome, she adapted her house for the pilgrims that arrived there from the Scandinavian countries, to whom she offered hospitality. His life instead was very austere. She often begged the daily bread together with other poor men and women on the stairs of the churches in Rome.

For decades, the papacy had been headquartered in Avignon in southern France. The tumultuous period was later described as the "Babylonian Captivity of the Church." The papacy was at its lowest point in prestige and holiness. Bishops and other clergy were corrupted. Nepotism was common. Indulgences were for sale. Spurred by revelations, Bridget worked much for the return of the papacy to Rome, and was charged by God to deliver several messages to Popes Innocent VI, Urban V, and Gregory XI. Despite her pleading and working, the change she sought didn't come. St. Catherine of Siena took up Bridget's mission, and only in 1378, five years after Bridget's death, did the Pope go back to Rome.

In 1371, in response to another vision, Bridget travelled on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land with her daughter Karin, sons Karl and Birger, and others. Her journey to holy places was enriched by a series of comforting visions of things that occurred there. God bestowed on her extraordinary graces and imparted to her a knowledge of His sacred mysteries. Her son Charles became involved with Queen Joanna I, who despite the fact that both were already married, wanted to marry him. Horrified, Bridget prayed ceaselessly for a resolution. It came when Charles was sickened by a fever and died in her arms a few weeks later. He had been one of her favorite children. After the funeral, she went to Cyprus, grieving terribly. She nearly drowned in a shipwreck off Jaffa.

Upon her return to Italy in 1373, she was stricken with a serious illness, which afflicted her for an entire year. Having foretold the day of her death, she passed into the joys of eternity on July 23, 1373, at the age of seventy-one, after receiving the viaticum from her friend Peter of Alvastra. She was laid to rest in the Poor Clare convent of St. Lawrence in Panisperna. The following year her body was taken to the convent at Vadstena in Sweden. She is still buried there, in the Blue Church, the original church of her double monastery. In this now Lutheran Church there is also a medieval wooden statue showing Birgitta as a benign housewife.

Bridget was canonized in 1391 by Pope Boniface IX. She is now honored as patroness of Sweden and co-patroness of Europe (along with Saints Catherine of Siena and Edith Stein).

At the very center of the spirituality of S. Bridget we find the mysteries of the Passion of Christ and of the glories and pains of Mary. Bridget's simple Marian Prayer was: "O Lady, by the love which you bear Jesus, help me to love him." Bridget underlined the central role of Mary in the history of the salvation, close to Christ and joined to Christ, according to God's plain. The Mary-centered character of the Brigittine Order is evident if you open the book of the Rules, and read: "I want to found this Order for the glory of my beloved Mother." The Revelations speak also of the true and false devotion to Mary. The true devotion, tells S. Bridget, makes you love Our Lady especially with the imitation of her favourite virtues: humility, charity, purity, obedience and poverty.

Another famous prayer of Saint Bridget is: "Lord, show me thy way, and make me willing to follow it."

Also, a traditional devotion is "the 15 prayers of Saint Bridget", also called "The Magnificent Prayers". Popular tradition affirms that those prayers must be prayed daily, with a total of 5480 prayers in the year, to equal the number of wounds Jesus received, to get the realization of some holy promises. Bridget wrote that Jesus had received that large number of wounds during His trial, scourging, and crucifixion, and that she was given this information directly by Jesus. Of course, no one is required to believe these revelations or to pray these prayers. It was for her virtues rather than her visions that Bridget was canonized.

But Bridget's most meaningful motto is "Est Amor meus Crucifixus." (My Love is Crucified). This motto resembles Saint Paul's motto: the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world. The world must cease to have any value or attraction for us. The hope of human society being Christianized does not lie with the Christians who conform to the world around them; it lies with those who have been so transformed by the change which the Cross of Christ has effected in them, that they are indeed crucified with Christ. Such nonconformity means sacrifice. It may be outward. It certainly is inward.

Ambitions must be subordinated to aspirations. Human companionships must be given up for the closer communion with Christ. Hardship must take the place of comfort, and toil of ease, if the Cross is taken up, and Christ is followed. It was the love of Christ, as displayed in His Cross, which inspired Bridget's life and choices; and it is only as the Cross of Christ means to us and does for us what it meant and did for her that we, even as she was, will be crucified unto the world, and the world unto us.

Let's read a quote from the Revelations:

ON THE FREQUENT REMEMBRANCE OF CHRIST'S SUFFERINGS

Consider how useful it is to think of the sufferings of Christ. There is no better consolation amid the sufferings of life.
Are you being ridiculed and persecuted, have you been laid low by painful illness, is your soul worried and sorrowful, then look at your suffering Savior. Contemplate Him from the time He suffered the agony in the garden until He drew His last breath on the cross. What you are suffering, He endured in far greater measure; and, what is most consoling, His suffering has obtained for you the necessary strength to bear your sufferings patiently and with merit. His death has effected our redemption, so that in time of direct need, when our soul is oppressed because of the sins we have committed, we may look up with confidence to our suffering Savior. "If any man sins, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the just. He is the propitiation for our sins (1 Jn. 2, 1-2)."

Submitted by Anna Ferroni—Turin, Italy

Anna Ferroni
Thanks!
by Anna Ferroni

My thanks to everyone for their prayers for me. They have consoled me greatly in my cancer surgery and chemotherapy. God bless you and reward you for your kindness.
Anna

BSP RETREAT 2005

"ON PRAYER"

A retreat for All of the Faithful to be celebrated at:

Franciscan Retreats
16385 St. Francis Lane - Prior Lake, Minnesota
942-447-2182

From 4 PM Friday, July 29th to Noon, Sunday, July 31st

To be in attendance:
Archbishop Harry J. Flynn of St. Paul-Minneapolis
Celebrant at the Saturday Evening Mass

Fr. Robert Altier, – from St. Agnes of St. Paul
To present three talks on the subject of Prayer

Fr. Valerius Messerich O.F.M.
First Visitor of the Brothers and Sisters of Penance


Father Robert Altier


Archbishop Harry Flynn


Father Valerius Messerich



Cost: $140 Room; meals; program, (and this includes $25 stipend for retreat masters)

DETAILED RETREAT INFORMATION IS ON THE MEMBER'S PAGE FOR YOU TO SHARE and if you are online,
click here to read them now.

Send $25 to the address below to reserve a place at the retreat.
Bruce and Shelley Fahey BSP
Co - Administrators
20939 Quadrant Ave. N.
Scandia, Minnesota 55073
(651)433-2753


Come as early as 3 PM on Friday, July 29th and stay as late as you like on Sunday, July 31st.


If you have any questions feel free to contact the BSP Communication Center. Please email bspenance@yahoo.com

click here to view the pictures of 2004 Retreat on the BSP website

THE ADMONITIONS OF ST. FRANCIS:
XVI. Purity of heart

"Blessed are the clean of heart, for they shall see God" (Mt. 5:8). A man is really clean of heart when he has no time for the things of this world but is always searching for the things of heaven, never failing to keep God before his eyes and always adoring him with a pure heart and soul.


The Virgin of the Roses
The Virgin of the Roses
Stefan Lochner, 1448
Wallraff - Richartz - Museum, Cologne (Germany)


The
BROTHERS AND SISTERS OF PENANCE OF ST. FRANCIS

a.k.a. the BSP, is a non-profit 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 blessing 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. Just send them to the BSP at minncc@aol.com. 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 the Brothers and Sisters of Penance!

Website: www.bspenance.org

"Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered" (Heb :8).

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