St. Ignatius' Method of Mental Prayer
From Fr. Altier
- practice of self denial
- try to shed all personal inclinations
- obedience to one's state in life
Selection of Material
- make acts of faith and reverence in the presence of God
- ask for the grace to make a good meditation
- choose the topic of prayer from a book, picture, vocal prayer, virtues,
- composition of place (exercise of the imagination)
- ask for the special grace to be sought in the meditation
A. Exercise of the memory
- remain with the composition of place
B. Exercise of the Intellect
- make yourself a part of the scene (can be a person (even Jesus), an inanimate
- focus on traditional things (10 Commandments, 7 deadly sins, etc.)
- consider how you are living in relation to the topic considered
- reflect on the material of the prayer, e.g., a single work of a vocal prayer; a
particular act of Christ
C. Exercise of the will
- draw particular applications or conclusions for your own life
- try to arouse feeling and affections of devotion
- make practical and particular resolutions
- ask for a particular grace from the prayer
- say a vocal prayer (Our Father is suggested, but any will do )
- make a petition which may lead to intimate prayer.
FROM: BSP RETREAT TALKS - 2005
NO GREATER LOVE: by PAUL BEERY BSP
"And now this admonition is for you, O priests. If you do not listen, and do not set your heart to honor my name," says the Lord Almighty. "I will send a curse upon you, because you have not set your heart to honor me" (Malachi 2)
The following was written to be sent to our local diocesan newspaper: A recent letter writer complained: "The current attempt by the church to root out homosexuality in the seminaries reminds me of the witch-hunts of the 18th century in this country, and it demonstrates the same degree of enlightenment." (Catholic Spirit, Oct. 20) Archbishop Edwin O'Brien, the coordinator of the visitations, said they are an assessment of institutions and not of individuals. "It is an extremely serious error for the media or any segment of the public to reduce the visitation to only one issue. The visitation is meant to look at the life of each institution as a whole to see whether it is helping to form men who will be faithful to their commitments as Catholic priests…"
Fr. Joseph Fessio, chancellor of Ave Maria University, said he is happy to see that the working instrument for the visitations emphasizes doctrinal integrity rather than homosexuality, for he believes the clergy sex-abuse crisis has its roots in dissent from Church teaching, specifically Pope Paul VI's encyclical on human life, "Humane Vitae."
Archbishop Burke (St. Louis Review, Oct. 14) gives the result of sexual promiscuity in the priesthood: "The majority of the cases of sexual abuse of minors by the clergy do not involve true pedophilia, the sexual abuse of pre-adolescent children (less than 4%), but homosexual acts perpetrated upon adolescents (89%). The highest incidence of these acts occurred during the 1970's and 1980's, a period marked by a general decline in seminary discipline and the strong emergence of an erroneous moral theology, known as consequentialism or proportionalism."
Archbishop Burke defines this error by quoting from the 1993 encyclical letter of Pope John Paul II: "The Splendor of Truth." He continues, "Moral precepts concerning grave matter are no longer seen as always and everywhere binding but rather relative to the intentions of the person acting and the expected consequences of the action. 'In this view, deliberate consent to certain kinds of behavior declared illicit by traditional moral theology would not imply an objective moral evil (Veritatis Splendor, #75).'
The error of consequentialism or proportionalism easily led to self-deception regarding the rightness or wrongness of acts which the Church has always considered to be grave violations of the Sixth Commandment, including homosexual acts. When this error was taught in seminaries, it was harmful in two ways: it risked the compromise of the moral life of the future priest, and it prepared the future priest to propagate the error in his teaching and counsel of others.
The leadership of the bishops in our nation and the officials of the Holy See, therefore, rightly saw the need to conduct an apostolic visitation to insure that every seminary in our nation is following sound guidelines for seminary formation. Clearly, particular attention needs to be given to the teaching of Veritatis Splendor in the seminaries, and the correct moral conduct of the seminarians, particularly in what pertains to the demands of purity and chastity."
There is a direct connection between the fidelity of priests in leading a pure and chaste life, and inspiring the laity to do the same. Jesus makes clear in Mark 7, 21, what He expects of all His disciples in the conduct of their moral life. By failing to live up to the clear demands of the Gospel, unchaste priests have compromised their moral life, led many astray, and ruined the lives of thousands of innocent victims, while causing a horrific scandal in the Church and the world. Worst of all, they have given great offense to God, and all His followers who attempt to be faithful images of their Savior.
Archbishop Burke assured the people of his archdiocese that at their seminary the teaching of moral theology was thoroughly sound, and they could wholeheartedly support it. Thanks be to God and Archbishop Flynn, the same can be said of ours. (end) I had a completely different article ready for this month, on righteousness (good) and self-righteousness (bad), but was so incensed when I saw this "witch-hunt" letter I had to respond. To add insult to injury, the writer finished by saying: "What an embarrassment, and how humiliating for all involved, especially for those in the religious life who will be subjected to this scrutiny. My heart goes out to them all." Was anyone embarrassed by this letter besides me? It was published in a Catholic newspaper, with no rebuttal either that week or the next. After wandering in the wilderness of dissent for 40 years, it's past time that defending the indefensible, and attacking the integrity and unity of the Body of Christ is no longer acceptable. In the Secular world much time and energy are given to defending evil. It shouldn't be that way in the Church. To be a faithful servant of Jesus in His Church you'd think one should at least know the difference between good and evil.
There is a huge pink elephant in our living room. Do we: ignore it, argue over what color it is, or get rid of it? How could anyone go through the horrendous homosexual sex scandal in the Church the past three years and still pretend gay priests are not a problem? Two percent of the population perpetrating over 90% of the sexual abuse of our children, and there's no cause and effect relationship? It strains credibility to the limit. Ignorance is the only possible charitable explanation for failing to see an obvious connection, but the bishop's own Review Board came up with the figure of 89%, and would anyone like to guess how many of the true priest pedophiles were also gay?
" 'For the lips of a priest ought to preserve knowledge, and from his mouth men should seek instruction – because he is the messenger of the Lord Almighty. But you have turned from the way and by your teaching have caused many to stumble; you have violated the covenant. So I have caused you to be despised and humiliated before all the people, because you have not followed my ways…' says the Lord Almighty." Malachi 2
Priests play such an important role in the Church in the Plan of God. That's why the widespread homosexual network in the Church has shaken it to its very foundations. For Fr. Altier and many others, thereis no doubt many are working from within to destroy the priesthood and the Church. The only question that remains is whether any prospective candidate for the priesthood with a homosexual orientation can be safely admitted. There is so much pressure on them by society, and other gay individuals to force them out of the closet, it's almost not fair to them to put them into such a serious occasion of sin. God knows there have been great Saints who have overcome this type of temptation by His grace, when society and the Church openly condemned such behavior. But it's a very different situation when being gay is openly favored and flaunted — even in the Church.
If God is publicly dishonored by His own messengers, what are we to do? If someday the Lord asks: "What did you do to defend Me when I was dishonored?" I will have an answer. All of us, dear brothers and sisters in the Lord, can get down on our knees, repent of our own sins, pray for others to repent of theirs, be faithful in seeking holiness in the spirit and Rule of St. Francis, and beg the Lord to show us all His Merciful
CONGRATULATIONS AND FAREWELL!
Susianna Lucchesi, of Springfield, Illinois, who has been in the BSP for over a year now, has discerned a call to enter the Community of Hermits of St. Bruno, which is a new Carthusian Order for those wishing to follow the eremitical life. She had completed the Postulancy period there and will soon enter the Novitiate, making her first year vows and receiving her habit. Her new name will be Sister Mary Elizabeth of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. Susianna is asking for our prayers as she enters this new phase of her life in Christ, and expressed her gratitude for all of the wonderful people she has met in the BSP.
In her last letter to BSP headquarters she pointed out she has been living as a hermit for 20 years now and found the Rule of the BSP and its fellowship met her needs nicely. She is very excited to be making this new commitment to Christ. Let us all keep Susianna in prayer.
From the First Reading – Feast of Christ the King
by Janet Klasson BSP
Thus says the Lord God: "I myself will search for my sheep, and will seek them out. As shepherds seek out their flocks when they are among their scattered sheep, so I will seek out my sheep. I will rescue them from all the places to which they have been scattered on a day of clouds and thick darkness.
The Good Shepherd longs for souls, as Scripture tells us again and again. Our Lady echoes this longing as she asks us to "pray for the conversion of a great many sinners". St. Faustina recorded in her diary that our Lord told her, "The prayer most pleasing to me is the prayer for conversion." This theme has been a recurring one in my life recently, and I am forced to admit that my prayers are woefully deficient in this area. Like most people, there are many things in my life and in the lives of those I love, and in my concern for the world that consume my prayer time. I try to pray daily for souls, but given the emphasis our Lord has placed on this type of prayer, I have to ask myself, "Am I doing enough?" As I pondered this question, the Lord reminded me of Sister "A".
Sister A was a holy little nun who served our parish for many years. She had a medical condition that caused her to be dizzy most of the time and she had trouble keeping her balance without support. In spite of that, this holy bride of Christ had an apostolate to the dying; countless souls were ushered into heaven by her prayers and her presence in their final hour. She was an instrument of Divine Mercy to the dying for many years.
Not many months before she retired from ministry and moved away, I had the opportunity to get to know her a little better. We shared faith and the occasional cup of tea. Once when we were speaking about her illness, it came out that she never prayed for her own healing. She said she accepted everything that came her way as the will of God. Her prayers were all for others. To be honest, I thought that was a little odd. After all, didn't Jesus say that God is a Father who "knows how to give good things to his children"? "Ask and you shall receive." Right? I didn't understand why anyone would choose not to pray to God for his or her own needs.
Only recently have I begun to understand the true depth of Sr. A's faith and the power of her sacrifice. She may not have been Franciscan, but like most holy souls, she had the heart of a true penitent. Knowing the physical limits of daily prayer, she chose not to spend any on herself, but lavished them all on others. She gave up something good for a greater good, trusting God to take care of her every need.
But the story does not end there. There is a miracle to tell of in the story of Sr. A, about a beautiful gift from a Father who knows how to give good things to his children. This holy woman who refused to pray for her own needs, whose prayers were the incense accompanying souls into heaven, this bride of Christ experienced a miraculous healing at a retreat for her order. During mass, right after receiving communion, she got back to her pew and felt power surging through her. As she stood there, she knew she had been healed, and wanted to shout and jump around, but being a good and holy nun, she restrained herself until mass was over.
She positively glowed when she told me what happened, and that she was now able to stand without support, to bend, and to climb stairs without using the handrail. She laughed when she told me what her brother had said when she told him about the stairs: "You may be healed, but you're still 70 years old! For goodness sake, use the handrail!"
Although this story happened a few years ago, viewing it through the lens of penitence reveals new and deeper levels that challenge me. Perhaps I am being called to follow the example of this holy little nun and "fast" from praying for my own needs? Whenever one of my obsessive worries comes to mind, I might gently lay it at the foot of the cross and pray one Our Father "for the conversion of a great many sinners". There are some things I have been praying about for years. Could I fast from those prayers in order to pray for souls? Could I, like Sr. A, give up something good for a greater good? I think that might help me to shift my focus from what I desire, to what God desires.
And we know what He desires: the Good Shepherd desires souls. God is thirsty for souls. Jesus said, "I was thirsty and you gave me to drink." Let me not hesitate to give him to drink, by offering more prayers "for the conversion of a great many sinners". Thank you, Sister A!
Janet Klasson BSP
by Robert Michael Francis Hall BSP
"St. Francis knows the way, shows the way, then goes away. " (20th Century saying)
When one reads about the life of St. Francis of Assisi one cannot help but notice that the smaller, more humbly, he saw himself to be the more he grew in the eyes of the Lord. Seemingly, the smaller Francis became the more attention the Lord lavished on the Poor Little Man. This is the exact opposite of the way the world works today.
How exciting to see God stoop down to St. Francis with such love and concern. God leaves heaven and the language of heaven to speak the language of His child Francis. God leaves His place in Heaven to play the games of love with His creature. How outstanding a display of His infinite power for Him to leave Heaven and touch with great care the life of His friend Francis. To watch Francis as he became excited and lively about God's presence and then to realize that God was going to be with Him and to live with him day by day as his constant companion was one of the great spiritual insights for Francis.
The One who plays and loves Francis is none less than the Lord God Himself...He is not a child...He is God even as He plays and loves the Little Poor Man. Precisely because He is truly God he can allow himself to be a child at heart with Francis and yet remain God.
Our God, the God of St. Francis, feels our pain and joy. He lives intimately with us in our modern world. Yet, He is infinite, beyond all things...even as He lives in our world as its Creator.
Francis' gave great thought to sources of light. In his writings we see him mention Brother Sun, Sister Moon, Brother Fire and so forth. Francis equated created light to its source, the Creator. He understood a humble relationship in that equation.
To grasp as modern day Franciscans a similar understanding of our relationship to God and light consider the following:
Yes, we are here. Here as Franciscans. But, as St. Francis knew, there is nothing else but Him.
The ray of light that pierces through a window on a sunny day. Imagine how that ray exists within its source, the sun. So too, are the cosmos a nothingness absorbed within their source, the Infinite Light.
Imagine the entire universe as a stream of conscious thought, and imagine how a single thought exists in its place of birth, within the depths of a Supernatural Subconscious. A place before words; before things, where there is only the one God.
As creatures we cannot perceive the Source with our flesh eyes, and so we see a world. But to the Source there is no being, no entity, only the Infinite Light.
Peace and prayers,
Robert Michael Francis Hall BSP
CONGRATULATIONS TO ROBERT!
On October 2nd, 2005, Robert Michael Francis Hall made his profession to live the Rule of 1221 for the rest of his life to his home parish priest. With that act he became the 26th person to profess to live the Rule of 1221 within the Association. He is the author of "The Sparrow", a Franciscan newsletter he does for his home community. We are happy to put articles from The Sparrow in this newsletter from time to time as a rich source of inspiration on the way of St. Francis. Let us hold Robert in prayer.
FRANCISCAN SAINTS: Saint Elizabeth of Hungary (1207-1231)
Elizabeth was born in 1207 at Pressburg (now Bratislava, Slovakia). She died November 17, 1231 in Marburg, Germany at age 24. So, she was almost a contemporary of Saint Francis of Assisi (1182-1226). She is now known as St. Elizabeth of Hungary, and also as Elizabeth of Thuringia.
Her mother Gertrude was the first who imparted faith to her daughter; but she was murdered when Elizabeth was 7. Elizabeth's father, Andrew II, king of Hungary, fought in the crusades, but was not a good king. Anyway Elizabeth grew pious and devoted herself to prayer.
She was often taken to ceremonies and instructed on how to dress, and how to behave to be a future queen, but she was not attracted by worldly glory and riches. On one memorable feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Mother, Elizabeth was taken to the great church of Mary in Eisenach and was to parade into the church in her regal costume and crown of jewels. As the child entered the church her eyes immediately located the Cross, and she stepped forward, removed the crown, and laid it before the image of the crucified King, saying she would wear no crown as long as Jesus wore only thorns. Her relatives were angry and resented her. Others thought she was simply showing off.
Elizabeth was betrothed to Ludwig, a German prince, who was to succeed his father as ruler of Thuringia. In 1221, at age 14, Elizabeth married Ludwig. They bound themselves to rule justly and to open their home in hospitality. Ludwig took as his motto "Piety, Chastity, Justice."
Elizabeth brought great wealth to the marriage. After her wedding, she had the choice of five castles to live in and so she was called "Elizabeth of many castles."
Elizabeth loved Ludwig. They had three children. When her first child was born, she carried him in her arms and walked barefoot to St. Katherine's chapel where she recited psalm 127: "Children are a heritage of the Lord, and the fruit of the womb is his reward." After the birth of their first child, Elizabeth and Ludwig established their home in Wartburg, Thuringia.
Elizabeth was a friend of the poor. She opened eastern Europe's first orphanage and tended lepers with her own hands. When flood and famine struck Thuringia in 1226, Elizabeth provided alms and clothing to the poor and built a hospital. Legend tells that once Louis did get tired of the nagging and complaints of his court about his "impractical and fanatical wife," and he succumbed to the pressure by forbidding Elizabeth to give out food to the poor. But one day a widow asked for food, and Elizabeth was moved. She dashed off to the kitchen for some bread and was carrying it through the door to the woman outside just as Louis was coming up the pathway. He was exasperated and sad as he looked at his wife and then into the covered basket. But he was surprised. The hidden bread had been transformed miraculously into roses.
In 1221, the same year Francis gave a rule to his Third Order, Elizabeth opened a convent for the Franciscans in Eisenach. Elizabeth received spiritual direction by one of them, Brother Rodger, who taught her the ideals of St Francis. She embraced these teachings. Everything she heard about Francis thrilled her; she felt an immediate kinship and could not get enough news about him from the Franciscan missionaries.
Francis, for his part, had heard about the Hungarian princess from Cardinal Hugolino, who encouraged him to send Elizabeth some gift of love which would foster her vocation because he knew that at times she was quite alone. He suggested that Francis send his own poor mantle, and Francis spontaneously agreed. One could say Elizabeth received it, cherished it, and was comforted by the presence of Francis in a way one could imagine, but which doesn't need description. Whenever she had something very important to ask of God, she wrapped herself in the poor man's mantle and received whatever she asked for.
Elizabeth wanted to observe all the Franciscan vows, including chastity, humility, patience, prayer, and charity. Most of all, she was fond of poverty. Although she was a princess, she longed to live the kind of poverty she heard about through the Franciscans. The Rule of life given by Saint Francis to lay people, that is the Rule written in 1221 for the Third Order of Saint Francis, was in her dreams. However, she did not become a member of the Third Order of Saint Francis so early. She was forbidden from embracing such a life because of her social status.
Ludwig died young, in 1227, when Elizabeth was only 20. He was killed on a mission to Palestine, just before Elizabeth gave birth to their third child. It is difficult to describe Elizabeth's grief. She literally went through the halls and rooms of the castle sobbing in disbelief. She refused to accept the death, and it was absolutely the most difficult trial of faith in her life. She loved her husband so much that there seemed to be no hope for comfort.
After Ludwig's death, the opposition of the court to Elizabeth compelled her to leave Wartburg with her children. Finally, arrangements with her family gave her a subsistence, and she also recovered her dowery. But in some ways this death of her husband had freed her to follow her inner call to poverty and penance. Elizabeth received the robes of the Tertiary Order of St. Francis, renounced all claim to the wealth and privilege to which she had been born, and chose instead to serve the poor and the sick. She spent her remaining years in Marburg, living in self-denial, caring for the sick and needy.
She died before her twenty-fourth birthday. As she lay dying, she was heard singing in response to a bird upon the wall. At dawn of her last day, she said, "It is now the time when Christ rose from the grave and broke the doors of hell, and He will release me."
Elizabeth was canonized May 28, 1235 by Pope Gregory IX, the same pope who just three years earlier had declared Francis of Assisi a saint. With Saint Louis of France she shares the title of patron of the Third Order of St. Francis. She is also the patroness of widows.
From a letter by Conrad of Marburg, spiritual director of Saint Elizabeth of Hungary:
"On Good Friday of that year (the year of Ludwig's death), when the altars had been stripped, she laid her hands on the altar in a chapel in her own town, where she had established the Friars Minor, and before witnesses she voluntarily renounced all worldly display and everything that our Savior in the gospel advises us to abandon. Even then she saw that she could still be distracted by the cares and worldly glory which had surrounded her while her husband was alive. Against my will she followed me to Marburg. Here in the town she built a hospice where she gathered together the weak and the feeble. There she attended the most wretched and contemptible at her own table.
Before her death I heard her confession. When I asked what should be done about her goods and possessions, she replied that anything which seemed to be hers belonged to the poor. She asked me to distribute everything except one worn-out dress in which she wished to be buried. When all this had been decided, she received the body of our Lord. Afterward, until vespers, she spoke often of the holiest things she had heard in sermons. Then, she devoutly commended to God all who were sitting near her, and as if falling into a gentle sleep, she died."
Submitted by Anna Ferroni—Turin, Italy
THE ADMONITIONS OF ST. FRANCIS:
XIX. The happy and the unhappy religious
Blessed the religious who refers all the good he has to
Lord and God. He who attributes anything to himself hides "his master's
money" (Mt. 25:18) in himself, and "even what he thinks he has shall be
taken away" (Lk. 8:18).
Christ in the tempest on the lake of Galilee,
painted in 1633 by Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn
Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston, MA
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
firstname.lastname@example.org. 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!
'If anyone wishes to be my disciple let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.'