On the Holy Spirit:
by Saint Basil the Great, bishop
(Tuesday Office of Readings: Seventh Week of Easter)
THE WORK OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
The titles given to the Holy Spirit must surely stir the soul of anyone who hears them, and make him realize that they speak of nothing less than the Supreme Being. Is he not called the Spirit of God, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, the steadfast Spirit, the guiding Spirit? But his principal and most personal title is the Holy Spirit.
The Spirit is the Source of holiness, a spiritual light, and he offers his own light to every mind to help it in its search for truth. By nature the Spirit is beyond the reach of our mind, but we can know him by his goodness. The power of the Spirit fills the whole universe, but he gives himself only to those who are worthy, acting in each according to the measure of his faith.
Simple in himself, the Spirit is manifest in his mighty works. The whole of his being is present to each individual: the whole of his being is present everywhere. Though shared in by many, he remains unchanged; his self-giving is no loss to himself. Like the sunshine, which permeates all the atmosphere, spreading over land sea, and yet is enjoyed by each person as though it were for him alone, so the Spirit pours forth his grace in full measure, sufficient for all, and yet is present as thought exclusively to everyone who can receive him. To all creatures that share in him he gives a delight limited only by their own nature, not by his ability to give.
The spirit raises our hearts to heaven, guides the steps of the weak, and brings to perfection those who are making progress. He enlightens those who have been cleansed from every stain of sin and makes them spiritual by communion with himself.
As clear, transparent substances become very bright when sunlight falls on them and shine with a new radiance, so also souls in whom the Spirit dwells, and who are enlightened by the Spirit, become spiritual themselves and a source of grace for others.
From the Spirit comes foreknowledge of the future, understanding of mysteries of faith, insight into the hidden meaning of Scripture, and other special gifts. Through the Spirit we become citizens of heaven, we are admitted to the company of angels, we enter into eternal happiness, and abide in God. Through the Spirit we acquire a likeness to God; indeed, we attain what is beyond our most sublime aspirations—we become God!
VISITOR'S MESSAGE: Fr. Altier:
(Excerpts from the Internet)
In the Gospel, Our Lord tells us that His sheep hear His voice and they follow Him. Now when we stop to think about hearing the Lord's voice, it is difficult for most of us because there are so many other voices vying for our ear; what is even worse, there are so many other voices that are trying to be our shepherd. If you just think about the typical day of the average American, many people wake up to the radio, they have the radio on in the bathroom, they have the TV on near the breakfast table, they have the radio on in their car, the radio is on at work, the radio is on again in the car on the way home, the TV is on when they get home, and many people go to sleep with the TV on. Not one minute of silence in the entire day. And the voices that are speaking to so many people are voices that are telling them to do things that are wrong, leading them astray, leading them either more deeply into themselves or more deeply into the profligate way of life that America has now become famous for. What is happening to so many people is they are being led astray, so we need to look seriously at this question of hearing the Lord's voice.
He tells us that His sheep know Him and they follow Him. So we can ask ourselves, "Are we following Christ?" It is not a question of whether we come to church, the question is – Do we follow the Lord? Do we follow Him in our day-to-day lives? Do we seek His voice to know and to discern what it is that we are supposed to do? How much silence is there in our lives today? If you think back just a hundred years ago and for all human history prior to that, it was almost entirely silent. The only thing that was not silent in a person's day was when they would actually have a conversation with another human being; otherwise, they had time for silence. The average American today wants to do everything possible to make sure there is no silence in their day. We are dealing with generations of sensory overload. People today, if they even have a few moments of silence, begin to get fidgety because they are so unaccustomed to being silent and to listening to God in the silence of their hearts that as soon as there is a little bit of silence they immediately try to find something to erase it. Each one of us needs to have silence in order to hear the Lord's voice because He speaks in the silence of our hearts.
When it came to things that were wrong, Jesus Christ did not remain silent. He taught the truth; He did not wimp out. He did not water it down; He told people exactly what was going to happen to them if they did not change their lives.
Ask yourself, "How many athletic teams have ever won any kind of tournament or any kind of championship because they had a coach who did not discipline them, who did not require any kind of work?" We have to make sure that we are following the right shepherd. We have a Good Shepherd… In the second reading today, we heard that the Lamb Who was seated in the middle of the throne is going to be the Shepherd and is going to lead them to life-giving waters. We need to follow that Lamb Who is also the Shepherd. We need to seek His voice, we need to hear Him, and we need to follow Him. It is not an option for us, but rather it is our salvation. We need to be serious about this whole matter. There are many voices out there that tell us, "You can do whatever you want because you're going to heaven anyway. All you have to do is believe in Jesus and you're set for life." Jesus did not say that. Scripture never says that. The Church has never taught it in 2,000 years. It is not true, but it sure makes it a whole lot easier – until we wind up in hell. The Good Shepherd is the One who is going to preach the truth, because the Good Shepherd is the Truth. And He has given us the Holy Spirit to lead us into all truth, which means to lead us into the fullness of Jesus Christ. Therefore, it is not beyond any one of us, but in fact it is incumbent upon each and every one of us. We need to spend time in silence. We need to hear His voice speaking in our hearts. And we need to embrace Him Who is the Truth because He has made very clear in the Gospel reading that His sheep hear His voice, they recognize it, and they follow Him.
The power of service!
by Bruce and Shelley Fahey BSP
At Mass on the Ascension while visiting our son and daughter-in-law in Maryland for the past month the local priest closed Mass by commenting on some Spanish music that had been sung during the Mass. He said, if we understood Spanish, the words of this song were very beautiful. They commented on the 'power of service' as needed to follow Christ. He particularly said that this power of service is the 'key' to the priesthood. That leads to the thoughts for this months message.
As followers of Jesus Christ we are called to service. How often we have all mentioned that, or considered that, in one way or the other. There are so many ways to serve. It is worth considering some of them.
Of course, the first thing we can all easily consider, if we are married, is how we serve others in our marriage and families. In our marriages we vow to love, honor and cherish our spouse and all that demands of us spiritually, emotionally and physically. There is no room for selfishness, or self for that matter. Our spouse must always come first. We heard once the secret of a successful marriage is not that the couple each gives 50 % of themselves to the marriage. Both people must give 100%, or more, of themselves to the other to make a happy marriage. This is living our marriage vows. To serve them as we would like to be served by them.
It is easy to see how demanding are the responsibilities of raising children can be. They feed on the love and care of others. They require great devotion and service. Committed attention. If you have children you can be sure that if you raise them well you will have to give constantly of yourself. It can be no other way. Just the food, shelter, and clothing requirements will keep you busy. Add the need to educate them emotionally and spiritually about the world, and prepare them for their adult working lives, and the list of service requirements grows.
The call to service for adult Christians only begins in the training grounds of family and marriage. There we learn to serve. To serve others we must first love them. We need to ponder what the Lord said to us in the Gospels. Consider well, and at great length, these words. To follow Christ we must also love and serve others as Christ did, keeping His commandments in doing so.
"I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another." (JN 13:34)
"If you love me, you will keep my commandments." (JN 14:15)
"Whoever has my commandments and observes them is the one who loves me. And whoever loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and reveal myself to him." (14:21)
"If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and remain in his love." (JN 15:10)
"No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends." (JN 15:13)
"You are my friends if you do what I command you." (JN 15:14)
"Do to others whatever you would have them do to you. This is the law and the prophets." (MT 7:12)
It is a holy and good meditation to consider these words. Not just as they relate to our families and spouses. That is a good and necessary start. We need to consider them, all the time, every day, as they relate to all of our relationships to others. We enter the priesthood of the laity, and the power of service, the 'key' also to our priesthood, helps us to build the Church and save souls, like St. Francis. We, too, become "fishers of men" (MK 1:17). By example, and in our prayer and sacrifices.
May God bless us all!
Bruce and Shelley
by Janet Klasson BSP
"I say, then: live by the Spirit and you will certainly not gratify the desire of the flesh. For the flesh has desires against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; these are opposed to each other, so that you may not do what you want." (Galatians 5: 16-17)
My, oh my! How I need to hear these words right now! Are there not times of great temptation, when the world is pushing in on you, pursuing you relentlessly with its bangles and charms? There are times when it seems all I can manage just to keep to my prayer schedule, while every day the pure desires of my spirit are betrayed by the words of my mouth and the actions of my flesh. Like St. Paul, I can only cry out, "What I do, I do not understand. For I do not do what I want, but I do what I hate…I do not do the good I want, but I do the evil I do not want." (Rom 7: 15, 19) But is not this tension part of God's design for us?
The following paragraph is taken from a letter to Diognetus and explains the conflict of being a Christian in the world and the divine purpose behind it.
"Christians love those who hate them just as the soul loves the body and all its members despite the body's hatred. It is by the soul, enclosed within the body, that the body is held together, and similarly, it is by the Christians, detained in the world as in a prison, that the world is held together. The soul, though immortal, has a mortal dwelling place; and Christians also live for a time amidst perishable things, while awaiting the freedom from change and decay that will be theirs in heaven. As the soul benefits from the deprivation of food and drink, so Christians flourish under persecution. Such is the Christian's lofty and divinely appointed function, from which he is not permitted to excuse himself."
The church has shown its most tremendous growth in times of struggle and persecution. What the enemy means for destruction, the Lord uses to build up the kingdom. Like a beautiful garden grown on manure, eventually the manure is transformed and no longer resembles the putrid mass it once was. The garden is victorious, and always will be. In the same way, the world is transformed by the sufferings of members of the Body of Christ. The soul shows the most growth when it denies the body its desires for the sake of Christ. "Anyone who loses his life for my sake will find it." What seems to the body to be meant for its destruction, is the foundation for growth in the spirit, which will result in its total glorification at the end of time.
But the body fights this! Like a little child that wants to play with matches, it does not know that it will be burned up by its desires. We can see this very clearly in the world today. Many, many people in worshiping the desires of the flesh, cause death not just to their spirits, but to their bodies as well. This is evident in the increasing incidence of such afflictions as STD's, addictions, obesity and abortion to name just a few.
But there is hope for the world. We read: It is by the Christians…that the world is held together. This statement echoes Colossians 1:17 which tells us that "in (Christ) all things hold together." Since we are the Body of Christ on earth this becomes our divinely appointed function. As Christians we endure persecution knowing that God is using it to transform, not just us, not just the church, but the entire world.
Let us remember this as we take up our cross daily, most especially the cross of persecution by today's popular culture. God will transform the world through our pain as we turn the other cheek, as we do good to those who hurt us, as we bless those who curse us, all for the sake of Jesus Christ whose Body we are. These are the beautiful seeds God wants us to plant in the manure of the world.
The excerpt goes on to say that we are not permitted to excuse ourselves from this function. No fence-sitting please. You are either with me or against me. To accomplish this task, we need extraordinary strength of spirit, which the exercise of bodily discipline gives us. The soul benefits from the deprivation of food and drink. Bodily discipline frees us of the weakness of our flesh that we might live in the strength of the spirit.
To find discipline, we need look no further than the Rule of 1221. It gives us the tools we need to strengthen our spirits to accomplish our divinely appointed function in the midst of suffering and persecution. Let us praise God for leading us to this Rule, for the sake of our souls, of the church, and of the whole world.
Janet Klasson BSP
NO GREATER LOVE, by Paul Beery BSP will be continued next month. Paul and Donna were unable to write an article for this month. Thanks for your understanding!
My thoughts on the teaching of Divine Will:
By Adelle Fandetti BSP
Because mankind is so ego-centric…it has taken 6 thousand years for us to completely
understand the message of our Lord's salvation of the human race by His Death and
Resurrection. The first 2 thousand years of creation took place with the sin of Adam and Eve
and the rejection of His Divine nature…Adam and Eve were both created in His likeness; a
Divine Will…a human will, and a Divine nature. Sin prevailed and God sent us the Great Chastisement; the Flood. He promised never to use water to sanctify and purify man ever again. In that promise we see His sign the beautiful and awesome rainbow which never fails to instill a sense of God's Infinite Nature…His Infinite Majesty! The next two thousand years came along with the chosen tribes of Judah; King David; Solomon; slavery in Egypt for His people the Israelites; their flight to the promised land; their history of sin and ego-centrism; the Ten Commandments; and the person of God's Fiat in the "Word made Flesh" Jesus… His birth and epiphany, death and resurrection…a new doctrine for the world to learn and understand; to love and to practice; to believe and become like Him in all ways… the new knowledge of the Trinity. This was and still is being challenged by all who do not believe in the existence of a Creator. I believe that another purification is eminent, once again. I believe that our Brothers and Sisters in Christ are being given a chance to be His chosen in this new millennium, the third millennium, to become holy…His apostles.
"What is this new doctrine that I am referring to?"… The Doctrine of His Divine Will. I have heard that the Vatican is preparing teachers and teaching materials to be made available through Holy Mother Church. The Doctrine of His Divine Will. The Divine Will of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. It has taken some 100 years to clarify the writings of a new victim soul in Italy. It is coming. He said if it took a thousand upon thousands of years for His Word to be made know…it would prevail…"for it has been decreed in Heaven".
Many have become extremely doctrinaire in their acceptance of new and holy inspiration…where would this world have been if Francis, our brother, didn't have a revolutionary change and bury his ego-centrism. As Father Dubay said just this morning … Francis was a party guy. He loved the things of this earth … the lusts of youth; money and position. However, when He was spoken to by God; Francis listened and took heed. He spread God's way across the whole of Europe with his disciples of the new doctrine… poverty, sacrifice, the cross, suffering … the knowledge of why it was necessary for God to become man and die in this egregious land…called earth. The message was the doctrine of Salvation and Redemption.
The world knows this message and is rejecting it with fiendish verbosity. We are now having the Sanctity of Jesus challenged and denied in the works of Dan Brown; and His very existence is being denied and the Church is being sued for the alleged improvisation of the personage of Jesus. This new doctrine that will be coming out into a very sinful world will be rejected by many and accepted by very few…this was predicted by Jesus Himself. This is the Doctrine of Sanctification anew…of putting on the Will of God first. I admit I am a student of the new doctrine. This means the rejection of our own human will; the return to a metaphysical Eden… to His friendship; to live for Him and Him alone…in Him.
We all must seek to do His Will at all times, especially in the BSP. You all know what my efforts have been to present knowledge of the existence of this teaching to you, my Brothers and Sisters in Christ, and others. It does not matter to me if I am considered odd, strange, or even old! God forbid that we women in this day and age worry about looking old! But, just as in the days of Peter and Paul; we must and should prevail to be open and to have discernment. Francis gave his will and life over to God; this is why he was a great saint…he spread the message that in his time the Father wanted to make known…the Plan of Redemption for his people on planet earth; the suffering and reparation for sin made by the Creator. An imitation of Christ was made available in that time and this for all to embrace. Repentance!
But, I will say that as of the coming months of July, August and September, I will pray and ask my Lord for His guidance and will on whether I should keep writing and presenting His work on the Member's Blog site…or if I should let His Will be Done in another Way. His ways are not our ways. He may have a better plan for me to do HIS work. He may have a plan for each of us.
When Francis first preached His sermons on poverty, repentance and holy sacrifice…he was proclaimed a mad man and many fled his presence. I pray that the world in this present moment not proclaim Jesus a madman; nor do they desecrate His presence among us today! Some of us are even rejecting the Eucharist! Silence for me…is the sound of the earthquake of ego-centrism…the clamor of atheism… the shriek of Satan in fury at acceptance. Amen. Fiat!
Visit the Divine Will Blog on the Web at www.bspenance.org/divinewill . It is a very inspirational reading.
FRANCISCAN SAINTS: Blessed Ignatius (Nazju) Falzon (1813-1865)
Ignatius Falzon was born in Valletta, the capital of the Island of Malta on the 1st July 1813 to the lawyer Joseph Francis Falzon and Mrs. Mary Theresa, daughter of the Judge, Calcedon Debno. He belonged to a rich family. Two of his brothers, law graduates, became Franciscan priests.
From an early age, Nazju used to show a special devotion towards Our Lady and as a child he loved to linger in front of the statue of the Queen of Heavens while he recited the Hail Mary. Fr. Francesco Falzon, Nazju's brother, said that "Nazju never went to bed before reciting the fifteen decades of the rosary." As soon as he learned to read, he started to recite the Little Office of Our Lady, which he always carried with him.
Nazju's father wanted him to become a doctor of laws, because other members on both sides of the family had already practiced this profession. On his part, Nazju did not feel himself very much inclined to follow such a career. When Nazju was 15 years old, on the 21st December 1828, he was instituted a cleric in a ceremony conducted by the Bishop of Malta. Three years later, Nazju received the Minor orders.
Many persons thought that Nazju Falzon would continue on the road leading to the priesthood. The Bishop of Malta and Nazju's friends exhorted him to think seriously about it. However, Nazju insisted that he did not consider himself worthy of such an honor. He continued to study as a lawyer and on the 7th of September 1833, when he was twenty years old, he obtained a Laureate in Canon and Civil Law at the University of Malta.
After finishing his studies, Nazju started to face the problems of daily life. He chose for himself a program of holiness which was based on the virtues of humility and love of neighbor. He became a member of the Secular Franciscan Order and regulated his life according to the Rule of 1221 of Saint Francis.
Following the custom of the day, like other clerics, he did not go to work or even practice his profession as a lawyer, but dedicated himself to living a truly devotional life in his home. He used to spend the morning hours and quite some time in the afternoon and evening in the private chapel which his family had at home. He always led a rather secluded life and went out-of-doors only to fulfil his duties and to carry out apostolic activities.
Nazju was devoted to the Passion of Our Lord. He used to pray the Way of the Cross everyday and also spent some time praying before the Crucifix. He was also very devoted to the Eucharist, adoration and meditation being his spiritual nourishment. He lived a silent existence. At home, where the family had a chapel, and in church, during the morning and in the evening, before and after the meetings, he always found time to kneel in meditation in front of the Blessed Sacrament. His trust in the union with Jesus at communion knew no bounds.
He was faithful to penances imposed by the Rule of 1221. Visitors to his family noticed that Nazju used to perform acts of mortification and that he was very sparing in his food and drink. He often fasted on other days besides the days of fasting established by the Church and by the Rule.
Although coming from a family of a high social standing, Nazju used to shun the vanities of the world. He manifested poverty in his dress. Nazju used his money to help financially those who were in need, even before being asked to do so. At that time, poverty was quite common, because no form of social assistance or social benefits existed. When Malta was plagued by cholera, Nazju's love for the poor knew no bounds. He collected the rents of the many fields his family had in different parts of Malta to be able to help the poor. He was told by his family that he was going to ruin them because of his prodigality, he answered humbly that he never gave away any money that did not belong to him. When he was short of money he begged for money to be able to help those who needed his help. His generosity knew no limits.
Nazju will always be remembered for his apostolate among the English soldiers and sailors. In this period, Malta was often host to as many as 20,000 British servicemen at a time. Many of them wanted to alienate themselves from life and reality, and fill the emptiness of their heart through sex and alcohol. Other sailors were British soldiers on their way to the Crimean war engaged by the British empire and the French. Nazju's saw and pained, so he started an apostolate among British servicemen, which was twofold: he used to strengthen Catholics in the Catholic faith and also help Protestants who desired to become Catholics. He began to organize prayers and catechism lessons for the Catholic military before departure for war and later built up friendship with their Protestant and non-Christian companions. He gave good advice and in this way drew hundreds of men to the faith. The documents preserved in the churches in Valletta speak of more than 650 people prepared for baptism by him.
In the beginning, his own home was the meeting place where he used to gather the soldiers and sailors. However, as the numbers grew, he moved to the Jesuits' Church in Valletta. For these people he founded as well the Congregation of the Rosary that came to be known simply as 'The Congregation.' He also wrote a book titled "The Comfort of the Christian Soul". To make it easier for the servicemen to understand their Faith, he saw to it to bring religious books from abroad in their vernacular. A pioneer and champion of ecumenism, he carried out this mission with the help of the laity and some of his collaborators became priests and military or naval chaplains and one of these, who remained in Malta, continued the mission. Besides the pastoral work he became a source of trust and a contact between the sailors and their families. Many a time before leaving for war the sailors would entrust him with their belongings and instructions of what to do in case they die during the war.
We don't know really much about ecstasies and other special gifts, such as levitation, that Nazju is reported to have had. A particular account tells of how during such practices someone saw a flame of fire over Ignatius head in prayer and how a Franciscan Friar saw Ignatius in ecstasy and elevated above grounds after communion. On the 29th of June 1865, two days before his death, in the evening whilst Nazju was reciting the hymn to the Holy Spirit and arrived in the words "Tu Septiformis Munere" there appeared on Nazju's head a globe of fire with seven tongues of fire, symbolising the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit.
He died on the 1st July 1865, the very day of his 52nd birthday, as he had predicted. Before his death, he suffered a lot from heart spasms. However, he always showed acceptance of God's will. He never grumbled but said he was a sinner and was in need of purification.
Being a member of the Secular Franciscan Order, after his death he was buried in the Franciscan church of St. Mary of Jesus in Valletta, where his body is still kept and venerated.
Submitted by Anna Ferroni—Turin, Italy
Food for Reflection:
I am thankful...
FOR THE WIFE
WHO SAYS IT'S HOT DOGS TONIGHT,
BECAUSE SHE IS HOME WITH ME,
AND NOT OUT WITH SOMEONE ELSE.
FOR THE HUSBAND
WHO IS ON THE SOFA
BEING A COUCH POTATO,
BECAUSE HE IS HOME WITH ME
AND NOT OUT AT THE BARS.
FOR THE TEENAGER
WHO IS COMPLAINING ABOUT DOING DISHES
BECAUSE IT MEANS SHE IS AT HOME,
NOT ON THE STREETS.
FOR THE TAXES I PAY
BECAUSE IT MEANS
I AM EMPLOYED.
FOR THE MESS TO CLEAN AFTER A PARTY
BECAUSE IT MEANS I HAVE
BEEN SURROUNDED BY FRIENDS.
FOR THE CLOTHES THAT FIT A LITTLE TOO SNUG
BECAUSE IT MEANS
I HAVE ENOUGH TO EAT.
FOR MY SHADOW THAT WATCHES ME WORK
BECAUSE IT MEANS
I AM OUT IN THE SUNSHINE
FOR A LAWN THAT NEEDS MOWING,
WINDOWS THAT NEED CLEANING,
AND GUTTERS THAT NEED FIXING
BECAUSE IT MEANS I HAVE A HOME.
FOR ALL THE COMPLAINING
I HEAR ABOUT THE GOVERNMENT
BECAUSE IT MEANS
WE HAVE FREEDOM OF SPEECH.
FOR THE PARKING SPOT
I FIND AT THE FAR END OF THE PARKING LOT
BECAUSE IT MEANS I AM CAPABLE OF WALKING
AND I HAVE BEEN BLESSED WITH TRANSPORTATION.
FOR MY HUGE HEATING BILL
BECAUSE IT MEANS
I AM WARM.
FOR THE LADY BEHIND ME IN CHURCH
WHO SINGS OFF KEY BECAUSE IT MEANS
I CAN HEAR.
FOR THE PILE OF LAUNDRY AND IRONING
BECAUSE IT MEANS
I HAVE CLOTHES TO WEAR.
FOR WEARINESS AND ACHING MUSCLES
AT THE END OF THE DAY
BECAUSE IT MEANS I HAVE BEEN
CAPABLE OF WORKING HARD.
FOR THE ALARM THAT GOES OFF
IN THE EARLY MORNING HOURS
BECAUSE IT MEANS I AM ALIVE.
By Kelly Joyce 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 Spoleto; 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
Quoted From The Writings of Saint Padre' Pio
If it is not possible for you to remain in prayer for a long time, or to read, etc., you must not be perturbed . As long as you receive Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament each morning, you should consider yourself fortunate. In the course of the day, when it is impossible for you to do otherwise, call Jesus , even in the middle of all your occupation, with a cry of resignation from the soul, and He will come and remain always united with your soul, by means of His grace and His holy love.
Go to the tabernacle in spirit when you are unable to do so physically, and there pour out your ardent desires; talk, pray and embrace the Beloved of our souls, even more than if you had been permitted to receive Him sacramentally.
THE ADMONITIONS OF ST. FRANCIS:
XXVI. Religious should be respectful towards the clergy
Blessed is that servant of God who has confidence in priests who live according to the laws of the holy Roman Church. Woe to those who despise them. Even if they fall into sin, no one should pass judgement on them, for God has reserved judgement on them to himself. They are in a privileged position because they have charge of the Body and Blood of our Lord to others, and so anyone who sins against them commits a greater crime than if he sinned against anyone else in the whole world.
Pentecost, from an illuminated manuscript
In the Library of Verona, Italy
The letter O surrounds Mary and the 11 Apostles
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!
"And suddenly there came from the sky a noise like a strong driving wind, * and it filled the entire house in which they were. Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire, * which parted and came to rest on each one of them. And they were all filled with the holy Spirit…"