'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

March 2007

St Francis
A STORY ABOUT ST. FRANCIS

     During one Lent at Mount La Verna, it so happened that one day at mealtime his companion lit a fire in the cell where he ate. After starting the fire, he went and found the saint in the cell where he was praying and resting in order to read to him, as usual, the gospel of that day's Mass.

     When blessed Francis could not hear Mass, he wanted the gospel of the day read to him before eating. When he arrived to eat in the cell where the fire had been lit, the flames had already reached the roof and it was beginning to burn. His companion tried to put it out as best he could but, being all alone, he was unsuccessful.

     Blessed Francis did not want to help him; but he carried away a pelt with which he covered himself when he went into the forest at night. The brothers of the friary, which was situated at some distance from the cell built apart from it, hurried as soon as they saw the fire and extinguished it.

     Blessed Francis returned to eat. After the meal he said to his companion: "I will never us that pelt again to cover myself, for I sinned through avarice by not wanting my Brother Fire to consume it."

Legend of Perugia 1246

COMMENTARY BY BRUCE FAHEY:

    There are always lessons in these writings. Some obvious; some not so obvious. We always find St. Francis observing Lent well, and so should we. He was always bent on setting a good example for his followers in how he fasted and observed Lent. He fasted much, throughout the year actually, but the observed fasts of the Church were always a priority for him. In this way he showed his support of the Church. So do we.

     Note some details here. He had a fire in his cell, meaning he routinely enjoyed the comforts of warmth, and it was a cell where "he ate", so we can confirm that he ate despite the fact that he fasted a great deal. He was praying and resting in his cell, so we see he had a place of prayer and rest. We need that too. If we are going to have a serious lifestyle we need a place of prayer, and we need to rest there too. That place of prayer is not just for active prayer, like saying the Hours, or reading, or meditating, but also a prayer of rest. The great rest we can enjoy, of course, is the rest in the spirit of contemplative prayer. So, a cell would be a good thing for us to have too, somewhere, somehow.

     Now the next line is particularly noteworthy as the practice of daily Mass is a good one, but we cannot always make it. Neither could St. Francis, who was a deacon and could not celebrate Mass himself.

"When blessed Francis could not hear Mass, he wanted the gospel of the day read to him before eating. "
    Obviously, St. Francis did not get to Mass each day. Like him, many of us cannot either, for various reasons. However, we can take his example, buy a Lectionary, and if we cannot go to Mass read the gospel at home. In this way also we begin to read Scripture at home, and especially the Gospels. Even before eating if we wish.

     It is amazing in this reading that St. Francis did not help put the fire out in the cell, but took off running with a pelt to cover himself with! What was he thinking? He later accuses himself of avarice, which in fact he may have felt. In accusing himself, shaming himself, before his brothers he humbles himself, and that is also a good example to us. We should always seek to humble ourselves before others, especially when we cause problems. So, there are many good lessons for us to consider in this little reading on St. Francis.

Retreat 2007

THEME

The Universal Call
to Deep Contemplative Intimacy with the Holy Trinity

By Father Thomas Dubay S.M. – Retreat Master

Archbishop Harry J. Flynn will celebrate Mass for us on Saturday.

Fr. James Reidy will be with us for reconciliation and fellowship.

Friday July 27th to Sunday July 29th

Franciscan Retreat Center—Prior Lake, Minnesota

Put it on your calendar!

THE ADMONITIONS OF ST. FRANCIS
VI. The imitation of Christ

Look at the Good Shepherd, my brothers. To save his sheep he endured the agony of the cross. They followed him in trials and persecutions, in ignominy, hunger, and thirst, in humiliations and temptations, and so on. And for this God rewarded them with eternal life. We ought to be ashamed of ourselves; the saints endured all that, but we who are servants of God try to win honor and glory by recounting and making known what they have done.

Father Robert Altier
VISITOR'S LENTEN MESSAGE:
Fr. Robert Altier:

Saturday - First Week of Lent

Reading (Deuteronomy 26:16-19) Gospel (St. Matthew 5:43-48)

     In the first reading today from the Book of Deuteronomy, Moses tells us that we have been made a people peculiarly the Lord's own. And because we are His own people, His chosen people, Moses tells us that we must follow His commandments and statutes. By following the commandments and the statutes of the Lord, we are going to find life. By following His commandments and statutes, we are going to be like God - we are going to act as God acts. The whole point of the law is that the people would become more like God. Already made in His image and likeness, now they had to act in His image and likeness. God gave them all the laws so that they would know how to live their lives.

     But, of course, it is not an easy thing for us. We do not like being obedient: we have to die to ourselves, we have to be willing to say: "I will put my own self aside in order to do what someone else wants." But the wonderful thing for us is when we know that it is what God is asking, we know that it is the best, we know that it is perfect, that it will not violate us in any way. But still we do not like to be obedient.

     But if we are going to be obedient to the commandments of God, if we are going to do what God has asked us to do, then we look, now, into the New Testament. [It is] not just a series of laws that we have to follow, but rather, it is something of the heart: Jesus tells us that we must love. We must love our enemies. We must pray for our persecutors. And He says that we must be perfected as our heavenly Father is perfect.

     If you talk to any psychologist today, they would tell you that that is just crazy. "There is no way you are going to be perfect. That is perfectionism; that is a psychological problem; and you should not have to think about that." What Jesus is telling us is not something which is perfectionism. Perfectionism tends to lead to scrupulosity and it is a psychological problem. Jesus is not telling us to be a perfectionist; He is telling us to be perfect, to be holy, to be like God.

     And the only way that is going to happen is when we learn to love. Scripture tells us "God is love." If we are made in the image and likeness of God, redeemed by Christ, and now we are members of Christ, children of God, we are to be like God in all things. We are to love. And it is easy to love those who love us - the Lord tells us that. He says, "What merit is there in that? Pagans do the same. Sinners do the same. Tax collectors do the same." So He says, "Love your enemies. Pray for your persecutors. That is how you are going to demonstrate that you are truly children of your heavenly Father."

     Once again, that is not easy for us to do. It means going way beyond ourselves to actually love the people who hate us. That is not a simple thing for us to do. We naturally think of retaliation and vengeance. We are normally filled with anger and we want bad things, oftentimes, for the people who hate us. But God says that we need to desire the very best, even for the people who desire for us things that might be the worst. We need to pray for the people who make our lives difficult.

     But part of what we must remember is that, in the spiritual life, things are very different from the way they are on the natural level. Spiritually speaking, it is the people whom, on the natural level, we would consider our enemies that are our best friends because they are the ones who help us more than any to grow in virtue. They are the ones who require us to practice patience and charity. They are the ones who help to direct us to God because they help strip us of the self. On the natural level, those are the people we want to run away from. But if we are going to take up the spiritual life and grow in holiness, God will put those difficult people right in our path because that is the only way we are going to grow. The people whom we would call our friends are not really going to help us grow that much because they do not challenge us the same way. They like the things that we like and we get along with them so it is not nearly so difficult, and it does not require the same kind of virtue.

     And so, if we are going to be able to practice holiness, if we are going to love as God loves, he is going to put difficult people in our paths and then say to us, "Do not run away from them. Love them. Pray for them. Be kind to them. Treat them with charity." Then we will be perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect.

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

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

"Too little does one love You who loves some other thing together with You, loving it not because of You."

St. Augustine

     This was the opening line we received from Father Thomas Dubay, S.M. It is a most worthy Lenten meditation. In Lent we are working to set aside at least a part of our world through fasting and prayer and good works. We are looking at how we live. We are examining our priorities and trying to make some good decision on what to retain for our future. At least that is what we felt the point of Lent was. Not a mere exercise in self denial.

     We need to set things aside and keep them aside. Tobacco is a good example. It takes at least 30 days to overcome a tobacco addition the doctors say. Well, there are 40 days in Lent. If you want to give up tobacco for life why not give it up during Lent and then don't pick it up at the end of Lent? If you don't love the tobacco because it is God's gift to you then you are guilty of not loving God enough according to St. Augustine. What a test that is.

     If we don't love God for giving us something, but love that something, or someone, then we are not loving God enough. Now, we have no doubt that God is not loved enough. Period. In this age there are so many who cannot even spell his Holy Name! They know of Him in their hearts though. He has put Himself in everyone's hearts so that no one can escape judgment when they face Him. No one can say "I could not know God." Or "I knew nothing of God." Jesus will confront them ‘square on' with what they knew or did not know and failed to act on nonetheless. But, we cannot love something, anything, other than God unless we love it because He gave it to us. So, we should, therefore, either feel love, or gratitude. Gratitude is a form of love.

     Consider the negative. Someone gives you a nice gift and you do not like it. So, you tell them that. Maybe you even give the gift back. The value of the gift is lost. The love with which the gift was purchased for you is unrealized. The giver could be offended, but even if they are not their love is. It takes a good person to bear such affronts peacefully. The Lord even said: "Love your enemies; do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you." So, being grateful to someone for a nice gift leads to you expressing love to them and this is exactly why we must be grateful to God.

     Grateful for life. Grateful for our family, its close and wonderful kinship, and our friends. Grateful for salvation! For the sacrifice of Jesus. For the salvation He offers. For every good thing we enjoy which comes to us primarily because God first foresaw our need for those things and that we would enjoy them. He did not build only crosses into the world. He built wonderful, sweet experiences and things and gave us a real appetite for such things. When we enjoy them do we love them more than we love the Giver? Often we do. Do we always?

     These are the questions we need to ask ourselves to mold ourselves into lives of poverty in the midst of plenty? Do we keep and do things without having gratitude to God for them? We need to always remember that nothing is more important than God. Created things are a gift from God, that is it? God must come first, and Lent is a wonderful time to reflect on this.

     Anyway, little is the love of someone who loves the things he has received more than the Giver! Let's keep this thought in mind as we go through Lent. As we drive our cars. Watch TV. Read. Pray. Eat. Fast. Have an evening out with friends. Do we love the thing or experiences more than God? We shouldn't.

     Have a holy, happy Lent!

Bruce and Shelley BSP

PS: Please continue to pray for Shelley as she now has an infection in her kidneys as a result of her recent surgery. Thank you, and God bless you!

Janet Klasson
A meditation
From the Second Reading, Fourth Sunday of Lent
by Janet Klasson BSP

"So whoever is in Christ is a new creation: the old things have passed away; behold, new things have come." (2 Corinthians 5:17)

     I had been taught as a child that diamonds came from coal that had been exposed to immense pressure for many thousands of years. I always liked the idea that diamonds, the most sought-after, valuable and hardest substance in the world came from something common, cheap and brittle, a substance that was mostly fit just to throw on the fire.

     There is a beautiful spiritual metaphor in that. What do we have to offer God that is not common, cheap and brittle? Our imperfect prayers, our half-hearted sacrifices, time begrudgingly spent on spiritual things—why would God not choose to throw our poor offerings on the fire?

     The above scripture passage shows us that the way to please God with our offerings is to offer them in Christ and through Christ. He is the catalyst that makes all things new. It is the pressure of the cross that we carry for his sake and the persistent march up the hill of Calvary that works its science on our offerings. Linking our sufferings to those of Christ gives us hope that what we offer will bear fruit for the kingdom.

     This is great news for penitents. We feel called to increased prayer and fasting, to abandon ourselves to Christ and accept whatever he chooses to send our way, to offer all our joys and sorrows to God through Christ. Unfortunately the reality of our offerings often falls far short of our aspirations. But in Christ, we hope and believe that our impure offerings will be turned into spiritual diamonds. Joined to the sufferings of Christ, we trust that our sacrifices win souls for the kingdom and hasten the coming of Jesus in glory. Is there any earthly comfort or treasure that can compare to such spiritual diamonds?

     You are probably familiar with the movie Schindler's List that came out a few years ago. It is a story of a man, Oskar Schindler who had a contract with the Nazis during the Second World War to manufacture arms for them in Poland. He started out as a hardened capitalist trying to get rich by using Jews as slave labor in his factory. He soon realized the horror that the Nazis were perpetrating on the Jews and set out to save as many of them as he could through bribery, trickery and any other means he could dream up.

     The movie contains numerous heart-wrenching scenes, but the one that affected me most occurred near the end of the movie. Schindler had saved many hundreds of Jews and escaped to Switzerland with a good number of them. Once he was safe he had time to reflect. In this poignant scene he lamented bitterly that he had not saved more of them. He could have sold this trinket or that bauble—each item counting as a life he could have and should have saved. That scene, above all, moved me to tears. I realized that I did not want to come to the end of my life lamenting that I could have done so much more for souls.

     The bad news is that all I have to offer for souls are cheap bits of brittle coal. Geologists now say that diamonds probably do not come from coal. But in this case, the science doesn't really matter. The good news is that God can and does turn coal into diamonds.

     Have a blessed Lent.

Janet Klasson BSP
Canada

Paul Beery
NO GREATER LOVE:
by PAUL BEERY BSP
March 07

"They shall look on Him whom they have pierced." (Jn 19, 27)

     That's the theme Pope Benedict chose to reflect on this Lenten season. I would like to present Jesus as not only our Savior, but as a "Father" to His children by reflecting on His seven last words on the Cross.

We think of Jesus as Lord and Master, Savior, Friend, the only-begotten Son of God. But not Father. When Philip asked Jesus: "Show us the Father," He replied, "He who sees Me sees My Father. I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me." Not the same, but One in Unity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Yet how do we know about God our Father? How do we know the nature of fatherhood? From Jesus, of course. "This is My Beloved Son in whom I am well pleased. Listen to Him!"

     This reflection is not meant to take anything away from God our Father, or as I have heard Him called: "Father God." It is rather to emphasize the lost notion of the necessity of FATHERHOOD in the world today, and how the Son can not only lead us to the Father, but to authentic fatherhood. Some of the following thoughts are courtesy of Fr. Michael Keating from his talk: "Food for the Masculine Soul." All of us, male or female, can benefit from learning about the nature of God our Father. The world desperately needs men who understand the Fatherhood of God, who stand in His place here on earth. "Father forgive them, for they know not what they do."

     Jesus will unerringly lead us into a relationship with His Father. Fathers create an environment in which others can grow. Jesus teaches us the most basic lesson of forgiveness. In asking forgiveness for those who put Him to death, Jesus reveals a profound mystery in which we share as His disciples: a proof of divinity. In the Benedictus, we read that John the Baptist would prepare the way for the Lord: "To give His people knowledge of salvation BY THE FORGIVENESS OF THEIR SINS." That's why Jesus said, "What is easier to say: ‘Your sins are forgiven,' or ‘Arise and walk?'" As though the two were equivalent: for only God can forgive sins.

     We witness a divine action: "To err is human; to forgive is divine." What is the main reason we go to confession: to have our sins forgiven, or desire to witness the divine action of Jesus coming into the purest of hearts where we can give Him our undivided attention? This distinction is crucial. The Pharisees rejected Jesus because they didn't need Him. Only sinners need apply. Do we want Jesus just to forgive our sins so we can feel good about ourselves? Or do we need forgiveness to restore intimacy that was lost because our sins placed an obstacle between us and God?

     Especially during Lent we understand it‘s more important to desire intimacy with Jesus than forgiveness, though both should work hand in hand. Love is a decision; feelings can sometimes get in the way. "Son, this day you will be with Me in Paradise." A father is someone who participates in our Heavenly Father's Life. He is other-oriented, and his selfless gift of love enables others to grow in the love of God. With Jesus we strive to say: "I have not lost one of those You gave Me." Jn 18, 9. Sometimes the Father waits until the last minute. "Woman, behold thy son, Son, behold thy mother." After the Fall, mankind became orphans. For the second straight time, Jesus uses the term: "Son," as in "Son of God." Throughout Sacred Scripture, anyone who is not a SON (of God) is a SLAVE. Father Keating put it very bluntly: "Orphans always become slaves." If orphans do not become sons and daughters of God, they WILL BE ENSLAVED: by the devil, by those who do not love them and wish to exploit them. Jesus gave us His Mother to protect us from slavery to sin.

     If one is determined to be a slave, do it in True Devotion to Mary. "My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me?" Jesus teaches us to pray, especially in the most desperate situations. A father does not manipulate, but brings out the best in each person entrusted to his care. Sometimes that takes tough love. "Sentimentality is the enemy of being a good father." When discipline is needed, self-indulgence is not the answer. Children are not for our benefit; they have been entrusted to our care for a short time. God the Father knew His Son had a Mission to fulfill, and it was His Will that it be accomplished for our eternal salvation. True love encourages children to do the will of God, even though you'd rather take their place than see them suffer.

     "I thirst." The Missionaries of Charity have that saying in their chapel for they know it means: "I thirst for souls." Jesus comes to free orphans from the degradation of slavery to sin. God gives fathers SPIRITUAL AUTHORITY to confront the works of darkness and protect their children. As fathers have abdicated that authority, their children have become sitting ducks. As a true father, Jesus thirsts for the souls of those children. He is a God of Lost Causes, bringing Life to a Dead and LOST WORLD by the Gospel. God as Father heals that which is broken. He works in the midst of our betrayal, for we are all sinners and will betray each other - and God as well. But He walks us through those failures, as He did Peter after his devastating betrayal: "Peter, do you love Me more than these?". He is the Good Shepherd who will leave ninety-nine to save one that is lost.

     "All is completed. The debt is paid in full." We learn to become Sons of the Father by gazing at Jesus as He perseveres to the end and completes His Mission of our redemption. We cannot grow discouraged as we run the race. Jesus trains His disciples well. Through His fatherly care He teaches them with infinite patience, admonishes and corrects them, gives them good example, even though they are profoundly disappointing to Him at times. For me, one of the most salient points throughout Sacred Scripture is to see how God learns to deal with human frailty. At last, He is no longer surprised by our incompetence; but we are, all the time. And we are especially surprised by the incompetence of others, thinking ourselves exempt. A father knows the failings of his children and loves them still, but also expects better of them. Jesus has paid our debt: He expects us to respond in like manner. And perhaps most of all show that WE ARE GRATEFUL!

     "Father, into Thy hands I commend My Spirit." During the Passion of Jesus we get a glimpse into His relationship with the Father, and here the Holy Spirit. It is a scandal to non-believers that God the Father willed to sacrifice His Son Jesus on the Cross to redeem mankind. Rather it should be a testament to the mystery of Divine Providence. That God the Father could require the painful death of His Son as the price for our salvation gives us some understanding of Divine Love, and a knowledge of true fatherhood. All men are to participate in the liberating mission of Jesus Christ by becoming true FATHERS. Whatever I do as a man, is it helping me to become a father in Christ, helping create an environment in which the life of Christ can grow in those around me? Jesus was constantly aware of His Mission. He taught His disciples to become fathers, to become shepherds of the flock. We will be judged by our success, just as Jesus judged His success by saying: "I have not lost one of those You gave Me." But to accomplish that required the shedding of His Precious Blood. It required heroic virtue. And it required a Divine Love of which it is said: There is NO GREATER LOVE than to lay down one's life for His friends, a Father for His children. Let us go and do likewise.

Paul

FRANCISCAN SAINTS: Eve Lavalliere (1886 - 1929)

Eve Lavalliere

Eugenia Fenoglio was born in Turin, Italy, on April 1, 1866. Her father, a tailor, alcoholic and libertine, often gave himself over to jealous brooding and fits of rage. Her mother often had to flee with the children, seeking refuge in relatives' homes, until her husband had calmed down. This situation continued until one day, Eugenia's father shot and killed his wife, pointed the pistol at his daughter but did not shoot, and then shot himself. Eugenia was horrified. She could never forget that day.

Eugenia was raised up in an orphanage and released when she was 18 years old. Then she decided to go to Paris and enter a theatre company.

Eugenia was beautiful, and had a sensational voice. In Paris, she became the lover of a theatre manager, who brought her to success. Under the name of "Eve Lavalliere" she became the foremost actress in France and the idol of the multitudes. The entire world viewed her coiffures and clothing as models and ran after perfumes, soaps and cosmetics "a la Lavalliere." She did not know that Louise de Lavalliere, who she had taken the last name of, was a woman of French nobility, who had a sinful, intimate relation with Louis XIV, but converted after a deep spiritual crisis, left the world, and became a Carmelite nun, spending the rest of her life in penance for her sins.

Eve was dazzled by glory and money. She threw herself "into the vast sea of sin." "Gold ran through my hands," Eve confessed later. "I had everything the world could offer, everything I could desire. Nevertheless, I regarded myself the unhappiest of souls." Despite living in a rich palace in Paris, surrounded by luxury, with a limousine at her disposal, she felt tortured by remorse. More than once she attempted suicide, even once after a magnificent performance in London.

But God had a plan. In June 1917, Eve wanted to rest and prepare the repertoire of songs and pieces she was to perform in the United States. So she rented a magnificent palace in Chanceux, France. She retired there with Leonia, a young Belgian refugee she had met in Paris in 1915 and who accompanied her as a lifelong confidante.

Eve and Leonia were walking in front of the palace when they met the local priest. "What a pity that you have no faith!" said the priest, inspired by God. "But what is faith?" replied Eve, in the tone of one who has permanently lost it. She then told him of her experiences with spiritism, in which, she said, she had not met the devil. "The devil does not exist", she concluded. "Oh, he does exist! I assure you that he exists", replied the priest. Eve was shocked and began to cry, and said, her voice broken by sobs, "If the devil exists, God also exists. And if God exists, what am I doing in this world? What am I doing with my life? I am such a sinner!"

On the following morning, the priest brought her The Life of Saint Mary Magdalene, by Father Henri Lacordaire. "After lunch," Leonia wrote, "Eve settled down near the kitchen and, opening the doors so that the servants might hear, began to read in a loud voice. Sitting at her feet, I began to cry. The servants were likewise moved. Eve continued reading."

Eve and Leonia spent the rest of the week in piety and recollection, and decided to receive their First Holy Communion on the next Sunday. Eve and Leonia were baptized already, but had never received the Holy Communion. They called the priest for a general confession. The priest was embarrassed because Eve was a public sinner, according to common opinion. He said a special permission was needed from the Bishop to give Eve the absolution. Meantime he left them a catechism and a rosary.

The permission came. Eve and Leonia wrote their sins on pieces of paper so as not to forget anything. They spent the whole night in prayer and went to confession at dawn.

After their confession, Eve and Leonia knelt expectantly at the Communion rail. "While lighting the altar candles," Leonia writes, " the Reverend Father's eyes were bathed in tears. As it had been agreed, I received Communion first and Eve right after. The priest's hand trembled upon giving Eve the Sacred Host. She was white, as if dead, upon receiving her God. Returning to my place, I remained only a short time in recollection, for prolonged prayer was not for my temperament. But Eve seemed in another world.

"‘My resolution is made,' Eve said. ‘From now on, only Jesus has a right to my life, for He alone gave me happiness and peace.'"

Eve always considered that day, June 19, 1917, as the most special day of her life. She considered it the day her life really began. She renounced the theatre forever, cancelled her contracts, rid herself of her jewels, and repudiated all that reminded her of her worldly life.

She desired to enter a convent to expiate her sins and to labour for the conversion of sinners. Notwithstanding her great ability to love and her purity of heart, she was repeatedly rejected on account of her poor health and most of all, of her bad fame. It was a trial that she fully accepted, realizing it to be God's will.

Eve left Paris in order to be safe from its dangers, distributing her immense fortune to the poor, the missions, and religious houses, and joined the Franciscan Third Order, committing herself to a life of penance under the Rule of 1221. She asked of God much suffering in order to atone for her past sins and ascend to the heights of contemplation, virtue and sanctity.

For four years, from 1922 to 1926, Eve served on a lay-missionary nursing team in Tunisia, but poor health forced her to give up this apostolate and return to France. There, with Leonia, she led a life of prayer, meditation, almsgiving and much suffering from illnesses. She, who had been the toast of Paris, faced extreme suffering at the end of her life. Eve herself said, "I have sinned through my body, good Lord. Now I thank Thee for permitting me to expiate my sins through these sufferings in my body."

Eve died on July 10, 1929, at the age of 63. On her grave was placed a simple cross with these words, engraved according to her request:

I left everything for God;
He alone is enough.
O Thou Who didst create me,
Have pity on me.

Submitted by Anna Ferroni—Turin, Italy

THE FIVE POVERTIES

The Fifth Poverty: POVERTY OF SURRENDER

EVEN having the Son of God as your child is no guarantee that all will be well. In the Fifth Joyful Mystery, Mary and Joseph discover that Jesus is missing from their convoy. After searching, they find him in the Temple back in Jerusalem. Scripture says that they were "astonished" and that "they did not understand what he said to them."

The fifth poverty, which may be the most difficult, is that of surrender: accepting that we are powerless to avoid many of the difficulties, troubles, and reverses that each day presents. They come—and we are astonished, especially when they are unexpected and seemingly undeserved. This is precisely where we experience our poverty—our inability to understand the mysterious will of God.

But to embrace God's will with docility of heart, offering as members of the royal priesthood our suffering to God to be transformed into grace… is the same docility by which Jesus accepted the Cross, saying, "Not my will but yours be done." How poor Christ became! How rich we are because of it! And how rich the soul of another will become when the gold of our suffering is offered for them out of the poverty of surrender.

The will of God is our food, even if at times it tastes bitter. The Cross was bitter indeed, but there was no Resurrection without it.

The poverty of surrender has a face: patience.

I know your tribulation and poverty, but you are rich... Do not be afraid of anything you are going to suffer... remain faithful until death, I will give you the crown of life. –Rev 2:9-10

Submitted by Linda Curtiss BSP

Imagine Our Lady's Joy at the Annunciation (March 25)

Imagine the joy in the Heart of Mother Mary, as She is told that She was chosen to be the Mother of the long-awaited Messiah, the Savior and Redeemer of the world! Imagine what bliss to know that the Lord of all things was dwelling in Her womb! Our Lady always wanted to be the 'Handmaid of the Lord' (Luke 1:35) in His holy house (temple), but now She is told that She will be that Temple, housing the Lord of lords, the King of kings!

Imagine the smile that came upon Our Lady's lips as She accepting this role and dignity of being the Mother of the Redeemer! We could look at numerous paintings and sculptures of this moment of joy, but let the Holy Spirit stir your imagination and contemplate that beautiful smile on the holy face of Mother Mary. We could do this by devoutly praying and meditating on the first decade of the Franciscan Crown: "The Immaculate Virgin Mary joyfully conceived Jesus by the Holy Ghost."

Imagine Our Lady, alone in that small, simple room at Nazareth. As Her usual custom, She was praying to God the Father to send the Promised One, who would save His chosen people; and that She would love to serve as a handmaid the woman who would be chosen to be His Mother. With Her eyes closed, suddenly She feels a presence near Her. Startled, as She opens Her eyes, She sees an Angel, who is smiling at Her. But this is no ordinary Angel, it is the Archangel Gabriel, who has been sent by Almighty God with the most important message since the beginning of the world!

"Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee." (Luke 1:28)
Imagine how sweet and full of respect those words of salutation were! Imagine what humble thoughts are racing through Our Lady's mind as She listens and questions this holy apparition! "How can this be, since I know not man," (Luke 1:34) She exclaims, Her Heart pounding with excitement.
"The Holy Spirit shall come upon thee and the power of the Most High shall overshadow thee." (Luke 1:35)
Imagine Our Lady's dignity as She responds like a Queen,full of joy, the joy of all ages. Mary gives Her Fiat: "Be it done unto me according to thy word." (Luke 1:38) Immediately Christ becomes present in her womb, as three drops of Her Immaculate blood leave Most Pure Heart, descending into Her womb, where instantly the Holy Spirit conceives the Body, Blood and Soul of Christ Jesus, and hypostatically joins the divinity; True God and True Man!

Imagine and contemplate that the God whom the universe cannot contain is housed in that tabernacle of flesh, Mother Mary's tiny womb! This is the chosen time, longed for by the Holy Angels; the chosen people Israel; and by the Blessed Trinity Itself! Now the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us! (John 1:14)

Imagine the bliss Mary experienced as She received this tremendous honor. She was now True Mother of God, and the Holy One beneath Her Heart is the Lord of heaven and earth, Son of God and Redeemer; True light of the world! Let us share in Our Lady's bliss, especially when we receive Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, exclaiming with Her: "Now He is here, right here within me. And He is my Jesus, to love and cherish. O God, what joy and bliss is mine!"

Deacon John Giglio


John the Baptist in the desert
St John the Baptist in the desert, by Jacopo del Sellaio, Italian painter
painted about 1485
Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest

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
Email: minncc@aol.com

"When you want to know why you were created don't look in the mirror; look around you." (Anonymous)

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


Communication Center & Headquarters:

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

minncc@aol.com

postmaster@bspenance.org