'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

May 2006

St Francis receiving the stigmata in his body

PSALM 142

A Prayer In Time of Trouble
A maskil of David, when he was in the cave. A prayer.

With full voice I cry to the LORD;
with full voice I beseech the LORD.

Before God I pour out my complaint,
lay bare my distress.

My spirit is faint within me,
but you know my path.
Along the way I walk
they have hidden a trap for me.

I look to my right hand,
but no friend is there.
There is no escape for me;
no one cares for me.

I cry out to you, LORD,
I say, You are my refuge,
my portion in the land of the living.

Listen to my cry for help,
for I am brought very low.
Rescue me from my pursuers,
for they are too strong for me.

Lead me out of my prison,
that I may give thanks to your name.
Then the just shall gather around me
because you have been good to me.

Psalm 142 is the prayer St. Francis said on his deathbed, surrounded by his brothers, just before he died.

Father Robert Altier
Motherhood, an Awesome Gift from God:
by Fr. Robert Altier…Visitor to the BSP
May 11, 2003 Fourth Sunday of Easter
Reading I (Acts 4:8-12)
Reading II (1 John 3:1-2)
Gospel (St. John 10:11-18)

Today our country takes out a day to honor moms, a most fitting thing to be able to do as these are the incredible women that God has chosen for each one of us to give us life. A mother's task, as we all know, is to conceive, to bear, to nourish, and to educate her children. It is the single most important and dignified task on the natural level in this world. What God has entrusted to a mother is nothing less than the souls of the children that He has given to her. With a mother's care and with a mother's heart she carries her children with her, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. It does not matter how old she is, it does not matter how old they are, she never ceases being a mother. Even when you see mothers who are in their nineties and their children are in their seventies, it is pretty clear that this is still mother and child. And that mother continues to be a mother not only in this life but in the next as well. Which is why, of course, we pray for our mothers who are deceased, but also to know that if our mothers have gone the right direction after death, they continue to pray for us. Rather than stopping their maternal care, in fact it increases when they get to Heaven because their love increases as they look at God and they know perfectly even as they are known, as we heard in the second reading today. Consequently, our mothers who are in Heaven know us even better now than they did when they were in this world. They love us more perfectly, which is an astounding thought when we consider the love of a mother.

This concept of Mother's Day actually began many, many centuries ago. It began when the Christian people would recognize that they wanted to go back and celebrate the place where they were baptized. At the Easter Vigil, the new converts would be brought into the church and they would be baptized. They would come into the church at night dressed in white robes after having been baptized by the bishop, and all the people would stand and sing as the new converts would come forth. As this would naturally stir one's sentiments, the people would think about the place where they themselves were baptized. So the tradition grew up that on one particular Sunday out of the year people would go back to the place where they themselves were baptized, to their mother church. There, with all of the others who were received into the faith and baptized at that particular parish church, they would all gather together, children of the same mother, children born at the same baptismal font.

And it did not take long before people would recognize that if they would gather to honor the same mother on the spiritual level, the same place where they were reborn, that it also made perfect sense to continue on to honor the woman who bore them in the natural and physical order as well. Soon it became a matter of not only visiting their mother church, but on that same day they would honor their own mothers. That continues in this day. We do not recognize, generally, the religious element of this, but thankfully, at least even in our pagan country, we continue to recognize the dignity of mothers.

This is something that each and every one of us does recognize in our relationship with our own mother, and yet it is something which we need to protect because motherhood is under severe attack. When we have determined in our society that the most important task is relegated to the act of having at the most two children because it would be a violation somehow for a woman to bear more than that, we have destroyed the nature of what motherhood is really about. A woman is designed for life, abundance of life, and that is what Our Lord desires. Every single woman shares in the task of being a mother. Even if she does not conceive and bear in the physical order, the love that God places into the heart of a woman bears fruit in the spiritual order through prayer, through sacrifice, through the love which is demonstrated most perfectly in the heart of every single woman, especially we all recognize it in the hearts of our own mothers. It is that love, the love of a mother, which brings more children to the Lord.

Saint Paul tells us that all fatherhood has its origin in God. We saw in the second reading today from the First Letter of Saint John the love that the Father has bestowed upon us in letting us be called His children. All of us recognize, of course, that there is no fatherhood unless there is first a motherhood. Men, in and of themselves, would be completely barren unless it was for the generosity and the life-giving nature of a woman. So if God is going to be Father for each one of us, there needs to be a mother. And just as each one of us has a mother on the natural and physical order, each one of us also has a mother on the spiritual and supernatural order – it is this beautiful Lady who is right here [Father Altier is pointing to a statue of Our Blessed Mother Mary]. And if all fatherhood has its origin in God, then all motherhood has its origin in Our Blessed Lady, the one who conceived us in her heart on the day the angel asked if she would be the Mother of God, because in conceiving Christ she conceived all who would be members of Christ. It was at the foot of the Cross, where her heart was pierced by the sword spoken of and prophesied by Simeon, that she gave birth to each one of us in a spiritual way. It is for this reason that Our Lord on the Cross would be able to look at His own Mother and give each one of us to her as He said, "Behold your son." Then He looked at His beloved disciple – that is, you and me, those beloved of Christ – and said to each one of us, "Behold your mother."

Each one of us has learned from our own mothers what it is to be loved, to be taught, to be nourished and cherished. Saint Peter in the first reading tells us that there is no other name other than Jesus Christ given to humanity by which we are to be saved. And I suspect, for the vast majority of us, the first place we heard of that beautiful name of Jesus was on the knee of our mother as she taught us how to pray. She taught us about Jesus; she taught us how to love Jesus. As every child knows, the safest place to be is in the arms of his mother, the place where he is going to be able to be completely relaxed, the place where he can place his head upon the heart where for the first nine months of his life he lived immediately beneath, to be able to hear the heart of his mother, to know the comfort and the love of the mother while being upon her shoulder. So too do we recognize the same thing in our Blessed Mother.

Children know that when things are frightening, when times become difficult, they run immediately to their mother. In the picture of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Jesus is shown with his sandal dangling by the strap to be able to demonstrate that as the two angels, Michael and Gabriel, presented to Jesus the implements of His torture, He ran to His mother and jumped into her arms to be protected. He is our Shepherd; He is the One Who leads the sheep. He leads us to the place where the sheep can be at peace, where they are going to be fed and nourished, where they are going to have life. He leads His sheep to the same place that He Himself went – right to His mother – so that she can lead us, as a mother does, right to our heavenly Father. This is critically important because these lessons that each one of us learned early on in our lives in the love of our mothers for each one of us needs now to be put into practice in a very particular way because over these next months things are going to get very frightening. But Jesus has given this time to His mother, and He has entrusted each one of us to His mother. Like Him, we must run to her and we must jump into her maternal arms, find our comfort on her Immaculate Heart – indeed, in her Immaculate Heart – and there know that we are safe, that we have nothing to fear as long as we are with our Mother.

Each one of us, every single day (not just today), must be so grateful to our mothers for the heroic act, the heroic love that they have demonstrated in bearing us. Indeed, I suspect for most of us, if we look back to our early years of childhood and being teenagers, our mothers had to practice truly heroic love just to tolerate most of us. So how grateful we need to be to our moms for everything they have done and everything they continue to do. And how grateful we also need to be then to Our Lord, to our heavenly Father, for giving us a heavenly Mother to love us in an heroic manner, to love us so much that in order to give us life she would unite herself to the death of her Son so that each one of us could have life. All motherhood comes from her because she is the new Eve, the mother of all the living, of all of those who are alive in Christ.

And so on this day we give special thanks to each and every mother, to our own mothers on the natural order who brought us into this world and who taught us the most important lessons of life. We are grateful to our Mother, the Church, where we were born at the baptismal font. We are grateful to all of those astounding women who exercise their spiritual maternity in union with Our Lady in prayer, in sacrifice and suffering, to bring many more children to Christ. And we are grateful to our heavenly Mother who leads us to Jesus, who teaches us about Our Lord, who protects us, who guides us, who nourishes us, who prays for us, the one who will bring us to eternal life and teaches to us the only Name given to us by which we are to be saved, the Name of her Son, Jesus Christ. Thanks be to God for moms, and thanks to every mom who has co-operated with God in the work of creation and created the most incredible thing: a human person with a soul which is eternal to give glory to God.

Happy Mother's Day to all moms!

* This text was transcribed from the audio recording with minimal editing

Bruce Fahey and Shelley, his wife, BSP Administrators
ADMINISTRATORS MESSAGE:
Retreat 2006 "THE TRINITY"
by Bruce and Shelley Fahey BSP

The Brothers and Sisters of Penance of St. Francis (BSP) is a new Association in the Church established for lay people in 1996 with the blessing of Archbishop Harry J. Flynn. The mission of the Association is to promote the lifestyle of the First Rule of the Third Order of St. Francis, the Rule of Penance that St. Francis himself gave us in 1221, in our modern world.

Toward this end we hold an annual retreat at the Franciscan Retreat Center in Prior lake, Minnesota, and you are invited to attend. The retreat will run from Friday evening, July 28th to Sunday noon, July 30th. Fr. Robert Altier, our Visitor, will be our retreat master. The subject of the retreat this year is THE TRINITY: FATHER, SON, AND HOLY SPIRIT. Archbishop Flynn will celebrate a Mass for all present on Saturday, July 29th, at 4 PM. There will be ample opportunity for silent meditation, spiritual direction, adoration and reconciliation during the retreat. The total fee for the retreat is $160 and includes room, board, meals and stipends. All members and friends are encouraged to attend if they can.

If you are interested in attending the retreat notify us of your intention to attend as the retreat is open to outside attendance and the intention is that members and friends get first choice to attend. Just send $25 down-payment to Bruce or Shelley Fahey, at 20939 Quadrant Ave. N, Scandia, MN 55073, PH: 651-433-2753 to reserve a place at the retreat.

This year Ray Metzger, who will have completed his formation, will make his profession to the Rule of 1221 of the Brothers and Sisters of Peanance as part of a formal ceremony, at Mass, on Friday night.

May God bless you and guide you in your journey home!

Bruce and Shelley

Kelly Neff
ON CONVERSION:
by Kelly Neff BSP

Today I did not 'rise up in the morning giving praise to God for the day.' Being tired from getting ready to move house, I mumbled blearily through the morning prayers, hoping that a cup of tea would do its office, while not wholly doing my office, as it were. Not with full attention anyway. Some days are like that, you say. But we keep on.

Then I was reading today at lunchtime, one of my favourite Franciscan commentators, Murray Bodo, and my eye fell upon the topic of conversion in the essay I was perusing. This is a much-misunderstood term, even by Catholics. It does not mean the change from one religion (or no religion) to another, but a change of mind and heart - as in the novena prayers for the conversion of sinners. One thinks immediately of St. Paul of course, on the road to Damascus, but equally of Francis; Francis listening to God and turning back to Assisi from Spoletto; Francis running after the beggar who came into his father's shop, Francis embracing the leper whom he feared above all things, Francis, hearing the voice of Jesus saying 'rebuild my church. You can see it is falling to ruin'. Francis, going with Bernard to the priest and opening the Gospel to find their way of life...on and on and on through his life, to the great conversion of receiving the stigmata, and of throwing open his arms to Sister Death. On and on through his life, Francis was continually in a state of conversion, which is how it should be, and which was the point of Fr. Bodo's discourse.

He said 'conversions which are sudden and dramatic do not last... How many changes of mind and heart have we had which we pursue with enthusiasm for a little while and then drop, the magic gone from them?' I took that to heart! having been pondering of late in this Lenten season how many times I have failed in my spiritual endeavours. Conversion, according to Fr. Bodo, is an everyday matter, going from moment to moment, giving everything up to God - all our joy as well as suffering, all our boredom and our engagement; everything, all the time. 'Seek ye first the Kingdom of God' How hard is that to do! (seemingly). We must train ourselves to it (or at least, I must) - rather than first going to friends seeking counsel, or complaining aloud or whatever we do that is not 'giving it up to God' first. This does not mean, I think, that we should cease to ask our friends' advice and opinion (reality checks being a good thing) but simply first give it all up to God.

Fr. Bodo said, of Francis and conversion, that his work consisted in patiently gathering stones, not collecting vast sums of money for cathedrals, and are we willing to do that, to change our hearts and minds in daily things rather than showing off in big splashy gestures to impress others with how holy we are? Wow. It was a thought-provoking question. It brought to mind all the Lenten prayers about 'proving ourselves through patient endurance' (which can be as simple as sitting in traffic on the way to work or with a slow elderly woman in the grocery line ahead of us.) A change of heart, a change of mind. We show what we really are in such circumstances. I was very happy to be reminded of this.

What you hold, may you always hold
What you do, may you always do and never abandon
- Clare of Assisi

A NOTE from Sr. Anne: BSP INQUIRER – APRIL 2006

Blessings to you both (Bruce and Shelley),

I want to let you know that I am going to be meeting with my director this week and that to also let you know that I've had BSP in prayers everyday. I also go to BSP's web page and read all the beautiful stories, letters, and poems from the members. There are very up-lifting. Wow …its wonderful reading and hearing about how our Blessed Mother has inspired so many and continues to. Neither She nor her Son Jesus has ever given up on us when we might have given up on ourselves. This has been proven with the many miracles that continue everyday. Let's not ever forget nor take one day for granted, this is why I live a life as the St. Francis rule.

A thought just came to mind just now...... I was already living under these rules for the past 5 or 6 years now and didn't know they were were called the 1221 rules until I saw it on the BSP web page. The truth is that they were always god's rules .....given to St. Francis ... St francis didn't make these rules up. They were given to him by the grace of God in the year 1221 and given to me by grace 5 years ago to live my life in today world under the same principles. And I'm sure many others too "these rules are gods rules for humanity " god plan was for St. Francis to take his gift and share it with others... So it would spread and reach others everywhere. ... It would spread, but along came evil and got in the way, with other rules making changes to the rules. But not for long because now BSP is here to continue with the gift that god gave St. Francis in 1221.

Any way this was suppose to be a quick note (smile)

I'll be in touch soon.
Sincere blessings

Sr. Anne

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Paul Beery
NO GREATER LOVE:
by PAUL BEERY BSP
May 2006

"Among those born of women, there is none greater than John the Baptist…"

Fr. Michael Keating, one of the outstanding young priests of this Archdiocese and a Church historian, gave a talk entitled: "St. John the Baptist as a Pattern for Lent." The life of John the Baptist follows a familiar pattern going back to the very beginning.

The Pattern of life for all those who sincerely seek God is fairly simple:
1. A Call and a Promise.
2. Working out the Call, usually with great success.
3. Opposition, and the Cause seemingly fails.
4. Death, often an ignominious death, yet the Cause Prospers.

There are numerous examples of those who fit the Pattern from the Old Testament: Abraham, Moses, Samuel, David, Solomon, Elijah, Isaiah, and Jeremiah. Fr. Keating then went on to compare the lives of John the Baptist and his cousin Jesus Christ. Both had a miraculous birth, preached repentance and baptism, gathered disciples, taught them, and their preaching had a terrific effect on their listeners. But soon both encountered opposition, were taken by their enemies and put to an ignominious death, at which time their Cause seemingly fails, destroyed by their enemies, who rejoice rather prematurely.

John the Baptist was more famous in the first century than Jesus. The Jewish historian Josephus, e.g., wrote a lot about him, while only briefly mentioning Jesus. But it was of Jesus the Messiah the disciples discussed on the road to Emmaus: "We had hoped that He would restore the Kingdom to Israel." Jesus set them straight: "Did you not know that the Son of Man had to be put to death, and on the third day rise again?" His Resurrection took place nearly in secret, and Jesus appeared only to His disciples. Can you imagine the sensation had He appeared in public to Pontius Pilate, or the chief priests in a manner befitting a Hollywood production? But that's not the style, the pattern Jesus sets before us. He wants us to live by faith, often without certainty, for then it would not be faith.

The example of the life and death of the Savior and His precursor John the Baptist is a pattern that is almost unfailingly followed by every true disciple of Jesus Christ. See how it fits our personal life. We receive the Call, and begin the journey with great fervor in light of the Promise of the Gospel. We are on the Way! But the wear and tear of daily living begins to slow us down, our bodies degenerate, and we die an ignominious death.

No death is noble. Perhaps that's why euthanasia is so appealing to people who wish to control their own lives instead of humbly submitting to the path the Savior trod. Some either don't understand the Pattern, or rebel against God's plan. Our time of suffering, of old age is a time to be configured to Christ, to grow in wisdom with the mind of Christ.

We work for the Kingdom, even when our personal lives begin to disintegrate: "I must decrease, and He must increase." We have to get out of the way, part of the painful process of dying to self. But we must not be dismayed, for that is the will of God. We are called to greatness: "Yet the LEAST in the Kingdom of God is GREATER than he."

Some expect to live the "Victorious" Christian life going from glory to glory, a life of endless prosperity, moving ever onwards and upwards with a smile. But is that the life Jesus Christ led? "Unless you take up your cross daily and follow Me, you are not worthy of Me." Yes, there are seasons of promise, but also times of opposition, darkness and failure, of crisis where God is not found. It is usually in these times of darkness that Jesus does the most work, Good Friday when all we can do is sit and stare at the Cross.

But then comes the season of Resurrection: "If we die with Christ, we shall surely live with Him." In the midst of this process great joy will come from the presence of the Holy Spirit in the midst of suffering, giving peace that surpasses all understanding. From Romans, Chapter 5: "We rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, knowing suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character, and character, hope." Joy is not an emotional state; it doesn't mean smiling all day. Suffering means "we don't feel good." Suffering increases when we can't find God in prayer. Jesus suffered this abandonment as well, yet He still "set His face like flint" to go to Jerusalem to suffer and die for us. We too need such determination. Jesus spoke and lived Truth. If we live by the Truth, we too will encounter the malice of the Enemy. No need to look for trouble. Anyone known as a GENUINE FRIEND of Jesus merely has to await the consequences: the Enemy will find him. "Let's put the just man to the test." We can get confused if we don't understand what is happening to us.

The Pattern fits the Church as well. We might have the idea that something begun by the Son of God would grow and prosper until the entire world would be taken over, captivated by the love of God and the beauty of the Christian faith. Not really. That's not the case for the Church, the MIGHTIEST MOVEMENT IN HISTORY, anymore than it is the case for individual Christians. The Church began as a mustard seed in the hands of the twelve Apostles, and grew to encompass every nation on earth, with one billion members, and another billion "touched by the Church." Yet it seems as though the Church is always in crisis. Jesus Himself said: "When the Son of Man comes, do you think He will find faith on the earth?" The book of Revelation tells of "the Great Apostasy" in the last times. Through failures the Lord works humility into the world. Hidden faithfulness on the part of so many humble souls is a source of great fruitfulness, the mystery of faith. We work for Jesus and the Kingdom of God, not personal gain.

Fr. Keating reminded us that the Church today, after Vatican II, is going through the Passion as Jesus predicted: "If they hated Me, they will hate you." Many years hence, historians will look back to the last half of the twentieth century and say it was AN EXTRAORDINARILY CREATIVE AND FERTILE MOMENT FOR THE CHURCH! The seeds have been planted, and John Paul II predicted a NEW SPRINGTIME IS COMING for the Church. Pope Benedict XVI stated: "If not for Vatican II, the Church would have a worse crisis" dealing with Secularization, technology and massive change. People in the future will be wont to say: "Wow, what would it have been like to live then?" Most people today say: "Well, it isn't so great." Yet some will say, "It IS great!"

We live in an era of great Saints, many of whom are well known, unlike earlier Saints who we think enlightened their contemporaries with their brilliance. In truth, most were relatively unknown, struggled all their lives, and only later became famous: the Holy Spirit completed their work, showing ultimately just WHO was responsible. Some founded religious orders that thrived under their guidance before going into decline at some point after their death. What is truly exceptional about the Franciscan Order is that Francis's followers have fought so strenuously going on 800 years to keep his spirit alive. The BSP fits squarely into that noble tradition. It's a GREAT TIME to fight for the birth of the New Springtime by bringing about the rebirth of the true charism of St. Francis, as exemplified by the Rule of life handed on to us by which he became a great Saint. Live the Gospel: the Pattern for the Christian life. But also embrace Jesus Christ Crucified, His Cross of shame and humiliation, if we would experience His Glorious Resurrection.

Paul

FRANCISCAN SAINTS: SAINT ANGELA MERICI (1474-1540)

Saint Angela Merici

Angela was born in Desenzano, Italy, around year 1470. Angela had a sister and four brothers; she and her sister, who was three years older, loved each other very much. An ancient biography of her, written by John Nazari, gives information about her family. Her father gave her a religious education, mostly through reading saints' lives. Unfortunately, Angela was orphaned of both parents at ten. She and her sister then went to live with their mother's brother and his family in the town of Salo. Still suffering from the loss of her parents, Angela was struck again when her sister also passed away. Her sister died before a priest could arrive to administer the last sacraments. Angela was worried about her sister's soul, but she had a vision, and Jesus revealed to her that the girl had been saved. Angela felt peace return to her own soul. She thanked the Lord in prayer. Wanting to show her gratitude to the Lord, she promised to spend the rest of her life serving Jesus totally. Many young men wanted to marry her, but she refused, wanting to live a consecrated life.

On the death of her uncle, the 20-year-old Angela returned to Desenzano, her hometown and began giving catechism lessons to the poor children. However, Angela was not sure what God expected of her. There was a convent of Franciscan friars near her house, so she joined the Third Order of Saint Francis and turned to a life of strict penance. She lived austerely, sometimes eating only bread, water, and vegetables once a week. From this time onward, she wished to follow Christ in poverty, and possess nothing. Angelas religious spirit would always be marked by the spirit of saint Francis of Assisi. She always was firm in obedience to the Church, love of peace, and commitment to a life of penance, poverty, and charity.

A friend invited her to make a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. As she set out on the pilgrimage she was struck with an unexplainable blindness. She continued her trip with devotion, and on the return trip, regained her sight at the very spot where she'd lost it. Of this experience Angela said it taught her to see with the eyes of her soul.

Time passed. A prayerful woman, Angela had a reputation as a prudent, wise and holy person. She continued to be of service to anyone who called upon her. In the meantime her true vocation was slowly maturing.

One day she had a powerful vision. while she was in the fields, collected in prayer, it seemed to her that the skies opened and she saw angels and Virgins ascending to heaven on a ladder of light, accompanied up and down the ladder by glorious angels who played sweet music on golden harps. During that vision, she heard Jesus' voice asking her to found a religious community.

She did not act immediately on her vision. But it was significant to her. It stayed with her and continued to prick her consciousness throughout life. It was not until much later that she began to understand what the vision meant.

In 1516, on invitation, she moved to Brescia, for a consolatory mission in the house of Caterina Patengola, who had lost her husband and two children. Soon in Brescia a group of people formed around her. Angela became the center of a circle of devout men and women whom she inspired with her great ideals and united by the same desire for holiness.

In 1524 Angela embarked on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land and a year later she went to Rome to the Pope for the Jubilee of the Holy Year 1525. Pope Clement VII asked her to take charge of a group of nursing sisters in Rome, but she declined. She told him of the vision she had experienced, and asked for permission to create a society of lay women. The Holy Father gave her permission to form a community.

Back to Brescia, Angela gathered her friends, who were mostly Franciscan tertiaries, and helped them see the ignorance so many children had of their religion. On the 25th November 1535, on Saint Catherine's day, in Saint Afra's Church at Brescia she established the "Saint Ursula Society": the first 28 members consecrated themselves to God with her. These women lived a holy life in their own homes. They met for classes and spiritual exercises, and carried out the duties given to them. Angela was chosen as their superior.

A new state of life was born; that of the Virgins consecrated to God in the world. Angela established a Rule for them and dictated her spiritual Testament, which has a collection of her spiritual thoughts. All of Angela's Rule reveals her great wisdom, humility, charity. The Rule was approved in 1536 at diocesan level and then by the Pope in 1544.

Angela had not founded a religious order, but rather, a group of companions, known more as 'the company of Angela'. The members of Angela's Company lived in their own homes and dressed simply. From their homes, they exercised an active apostolate, giving religious and secular instruction to children, and involved themselves in other charitable works. Although it was never a religious order in her lifetime, Angela's Company of Saint Ursula, or the Ursulines, was the first group of women religious to work outside the cloister and the first teaching order of women. Theirs was an authentic testimony to Christian life: they had to give a good example in their environment and try and bring peace and harmony. Angela's idea of a religious society without distinctive garb and without solemn vows and enclosure was truly in advance of her time.

Angela died on January 27, 1540. On her deathbed, she reassured her Sisters who were afraid to lose her. "I shall continue to be more alive than I was in this life. I shall see you better and shall love more the good deeds which I shall see you doing continually, and I shall be able to help you more."

Angela wanted to be buried wearing her Franciscan habit, having remained faithful to the Primitive Rule of Saint Francis for lay people - the 1221 Rule that the BSP members follow - for all of her life. She was buried in the church of Saint Afra (now Saint Angela's sanctuary) in Brescia. She was beatified in 1768 and proclaimed Saint in 1807.

Angela has three lessons for us, and especially for women among us. The first lesson, we must pray and await God to show us His Holy will. We may not know God's Will about us for a long time. But the voice of God is a gentle one, and we shall never hear it unless we learn to listen. We must give away all expectations, all concerns for the past and future, we have to listen in different ways and in different places: in silence and in noise. So did Angela. She became a saint because she prayed and contemplated. We too need to pray contemplation prayer, and this is also an option of our Statutes for our daily prayer of the Rule. In contemplative prayer we just practice being in the "here and now" with God. Then we open our hearts to do God's will, to follow God's plans. It is an experience of infinity, a sweetness and a peace. As the divine connection is made through our hearts, we then can recognize contemplation as the highest form of love. We are, as human beings, by nature contemplative, but how much effort is required to find the time and place to listen to God in silence.

The second lesson is to stay in some community. We need communal relatedness and the structures of community to sustain our spiritual lives in the world. The BSP is the community God has called us to belong to; here we find our spiritual food.

The third lesson, finally, is to be positive. Angela was always joyful. The foremost virtues that she possessed were a simple and unflagging faith, patience, and perseverance. Every energy of her soul was centered upon doing God's will. To her work was worship. Even before her vocation was revealed to her, she had not stood aside in uncertainty; but had moved on, and had done the good given her to do.

Submitted by Anna Ferroni—Turin, Italy

THE ADMONITIONS OF ST. FRANCIS:
XXV. On true love

Blessed the servant, who would love his own brother as much, when he is infirm to the point that he cannot repay him, as when he is a healthy brother, who can repay him.

Blessed the servant, who would so love and fear his own brother, when he is far from him, as when for example he is with him, and would not say anything behind him, which he cannot, with charity, say before him.


Vergine Annunziata, painted in 1476 by Antonello da Messina
"Vergine Annunziata"
painted in 1476 by Antonello da Messina,
now located in Palermo, Galleria Nazionale, Palazzo Abatellis, Italy

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

"Honor your father and your mother, that you may have a long life in the land which the LORD, your God, is giving you."
EX 20:12

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