STORIES FROM THE LIFE OF FRANCIS:
a reflection for all who live the life that St. Francis gave us…
While blessed Francis was standing in prayer behind the pulpit in the church of S. Mary of the Angels with his hands upraised to heaven, he called upon Christ to have mercy on the people in the great troubles which were bound to come.
And the Lord said, "Francis, if you wish Me to have mercy on the Christian people, do this for Me; see that your Order remains in the state in which it was founded, for nothing but this will remain to Me in the whole world. And I promise you that, for love of you and your Order, I will not allow any troubles to come upon the world. But I warn you that the friars will turn back from this way in which I have set them, and will provoke Me to such anger that I shall rise up against them. And I shall summon the devils, and grant them all the power that they have desired; and they will stir up such antagonism between the friars and the world that no friar will be able to wear the habit of your Order except in the woods. And when the world loses its faith, no light will remain save that of your Order, because I have set it as a light to the world."
And blessed Francis said, "How will my brethren survive when they live in the woods?' And Christ said, 'I shall feed them as I fed the Children of Israel with manna in the desert, for they will be good like them; and they will return to the original state in which your Order was founded and begun."
The MIRROR OF PERFECTION 1318
THE PEOPLE OF GOD…
We are a priestly people… "the people of God" (Heb. 4:9)
We have read or heard this many times in our encounters with the living Word and the life of our parishes. We are sure we all have an idea on what it means to us personally, but it is a worthwhile meditation for those of us committed to this life of penance. What does it mean to us in the BSP.
We are to be a priestly people: the people of God. We are to be like priests even while in the world. What are the elements of priesthood that speak to us?
The priesthood is awesome. Awesome in responsibility, awesome in reward. Mother's have referred to it as the most difficult of lives considering what they deny themselves to become priests, and then to live that way. Priests offer sacrifices, especially the holy sacrifice of the Mass, daily, but they also live sacrificial lives. Even where there is no formal Rule of life involved, the demands of the priesthood itself are overwhelming. No spouse, and absent the joys of marriage. No family. No children. No possessions that they can really call their own in most cases. On top of that the demands of leading a sacrificial life for others and making themselves available to others as those others need them. Not when they feel like it. The are servants of those they serve really, the servants of God. Then add to that, they hear confessions, they intervene in disputes, they are present to the dying, and they go to those who are sick or in prison. In all of this they aggressively live the Gospel. And, they intervene between us and God in prayer, and they lead lives that are totally converted to God, hence they merit in the Lord's words the hundredfold reward he so often speaks of.
"And everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands for the sake of my name will receive a hundred times more, and will inherit eternal life." (Matt. 19:29)
However, considering the words of this Scripture and how it is presented here it obviously applies to all who have given up houses, or friends, or family, or property for the sake of the Love of the Lord. Considering our Rule of life, this means that it must apply to us too, and that is worth considering for that reason alone.
The simple fact is that in living the Rule of 1221, the lifestyle that St. Francis gave us, we become living sacrifices to God, and this part of our priesthood, as a people of God, is as obvious as the nose on our face. Unlike Christ, who had no need to offer sacrifice for His own sins, as He had none, (Heb. Ch. 5) we must offer these sacrifices first for our own sins and then for the sins of others. The same as priests must do, for they too are subject to the law of sin and death as we are. We do that through the Rule.
Then there is this matter of prayer. Obviously priests pray, and they pray much in communion with their people, those of their parishes first and foremost. Those under their charge. They pray the Divine Office as we do, though some pray less of the LOH than we do. So, we must do that too. We pray, in communion with one another, and with all those in the Association and with all those in the world too. As Saint Cyprian, bishop and martyr, said in the Office of Readings for Monday in the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time, "God is the teacher of harmony, peace and unity, and desires each of us to pray for all men, even as he bore all men in himself." "We do not say, "My Father, who art in heaven...Give me this day my daily bread. It is not for himself alone that each person asks to be forgiven, not to be led into temptation or to be delivered from evil. Rather, we pray in public as a community, and not for one individual but for all. For the people of God are all one."
And priests lead simple lives. They thrive in the fullness of their vocation without owning anything, or at least, very little. That is the simplicity and poverty that St. Francis taught and valued, and it is the simplicity and poverty we are called to through our Rule. We are all called to be simple, humble and poor as the people of God and especially the followers of St. Francis. We are to be in the world, as lay people, in our jobs, and families and lives, but not of the world as followers of Christ. Hence the motto of our Association is "In the world, but not of it, for Christ."
So, as we pray, and when we fast, and when we see ourselves in the mirror in the clothes of the Rule and wearing the cross of Christ we need to remember who we are. We are the people of God. A priestly people, and like priests our behavior should be holy and upright and a good example to all. We should be faithful to our prayers, and the sacrifices asked of us by our Rule. We know the Rule of 1221, the Rule of the BSP, given to us by St. Francis, is our way to heaven. Let us embrace it in joy, as the priestly people of God.
Blessed be the Lord in all of us, always, and in all ways.
Sincerely yours in Jesus Christ,
Bruce and Shelley Fahey BSP
From the Second Reading on the 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time
by Janet Klasson BSP
"For you were called to freedom, brothers and sisters; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for self-indulgence. [...] Live by the Spirit, I say, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh. For what the flesh desires is opposed to the Spirit, and what the Spirit desires is opposed to the flesh; for these are opposed to each other to prevent you from doing what you want. "
(Galatians 5:13, 16-17)
Over the last several months news sources have been reporting that honey bees in various locations are mysteriously disappearing. It appears that the worker bees in affected colonies are flying off in search of food and simply not returning to the hive. The colony collapses as the Queen is left with only the unhatched brood and a few immature workers. "Colony Collapse Disorder", or CCD as it has been named, has been reported in at least 24 states, Canada, Brazil, and parts of Europe. Losses of 30 to 70% of the bees in some hives has the beekeeping community in a state of alarm. When you take into account that over 90% of the bees in North America are used, not to produce honey but to pollinate fruits, vegetables, oilseeds and nuts as well as forage crops, CCD becomes a looming societal crisis.
You may have heard a quote recently (inaccurately attributed to Albert Einstein) that if something were to happen to the honey bees, humans would survive four years at most. However accurate or inaccurate the saying may be, it is certainly food for thought. We very much take for granted these lowly insects. But our very food supply depends on the survival of these tireless slaves of God's bounty. And something is happening to them.
Many causes are being put forward to explain this mysterious decline, including disease, fungi, global warming, pesticides and genetically modified foods. Even cell phones are seen as a possible cause of this phenomena. Whatever the scientific cause may be, there is a spiritual aspect that is being overlooked. One would be hard pressed to find a more likely symbol of fertility in nature than the bee. Over the past several decades, by embracing artificial contraception and abortion, society has increasingly rejected fertility. That the bee is now disappearing is, I think, no mere coincidence, but an important sign of the times.
What does this mean on a spiritual level? I believe that God is using the disappearance of the bees to warn us that much reparation must be made for the sins of contraception and abortion. Many of us who grew up in the 1960's and '70's fell for the lies that were being embraced at that time. Sometimes it was priests who told us to "follow our consciences" in regards to contraception.
I came across this quote recently from a treatise of Bishop Baldwin of Canterbury:
"The appearance of goodness often seems to be in something which is evil, and equally the appearance of evil seems to be in something good. This is part of our wretchedness and ignorance, causing us anguish and anxiety. It has been written: There are paths which seem to man to be right, but which in the end lead him to hell."
So many, past and present, have rejected fertility, have refused to share in the generous, creative love of the Trinity. Many have done so out of ignorance, others out of poor teaching. The fact remains that God gave us freedom, but we took license. Now the bee is disappearing. Whatever the scientific verdict, he spiritual connection cannot be denied. The wages of sin is death. If the bees go, we will not be far behind. We have rejected fertility at our own peril, both physical and spiritual.
But our hope and our joy is the mercy of God, who knows our "wretchedness and ignorance". As penitents we have an opportunity and an obligation to make amends in whatever way we can for these sins against life and the amazing, unimaginable gift of fertility. For scripture tells us that "in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us." (Rom. 8:37) God gives us these signs so that we can take advantage of his mercy. "For God delivered all to disobedience, that he might have mercy upon all." (Rom. 11:32)
We should be infinitely grateful to our merciful God for giving us these signs of the times to wake us up and shake us up. Our Lady tells us that prayer can avert natural disaster and change the laws of nature and physics. I believe the "sign of the bees" is God's way of asking for prayers and sacrifices so that all of us can live in the true creative freedom he has given us as his children. As penitents let us answer the call with joy, gratitude and undying hope in God's infinite mercy.
Janet Klasson BSP
(Janet will make her profession to the Rule of the 1221 of the BSP at the retreat this year. Please keep her in prayer. )
NO GREATER LOVE: by PAUL BEERY BSP
"False teachers will appear among you, bringing in destructive, untrue doctrines, and will deny the Master who redeemed them, bringing upon themselves sudden destruction." 2 Peter, 1
Catholics have been accused of being too dogmatic, said in a pejorative sense. That is, we firmly hold certain beliefs, some of which are based on faith. Dale Ahlquist, President of the American Chesterton Society, has addressed this issue head on. In an article titled, "Is it bad or dangerous to be "Dogmatic," he states that EVERYONE is dogmatic. It's just that some know it, and others don't. People of faith accept the challenge of Jesus: "When the Son of Man comes, do you think He will find faith on the earth?" We accept God's divine revelation on faith because it's something unknowable to earth-bound humans who haven't a clue about why we are here or where we are going.
On the other hand, one who holds the term "dogma" in contempt thinks his firmly held beliefs are rooted in "facts of science or solid social convictions not subject to dispute." Chesterton said of him: "Other people's dogmas are dogmas; but his dogmas are only truths." And on what authority are these "truths" based? "Any primary philosophical principle promulgated by the authority of somebody." Isn't it funny how it all comes down to the question of authority? As Peter the Apostle said, "It's better for us to obey God rather than man." It's also far better to believe in the Word of God than "any principle promulgated by the authority of some man." These principles are called secular dogmas, and they are held with far greater fervor than many believers hold onto the deposit of faith given to us by Jesus Christ and handed down to us by the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. Truth be told, these secular dogmas are so heavily promoted that even people of faith seem to be drawn more to them than Gospel values.
On the recent feast of St. John the Baptist, the priest in his homily explained how John had to go into the desert to escape the prejudice and norms of the culture of his day, in order to be attentive the Word of God and become His prophet. I thanked him afterwards for the insight, and then asked him, "Don't WE need to do the same thing?" Don't we need to escape the prejudice and norms of today's secular culture to avoid becoming secularized? He agreed, and perhaps that connection can be made the next time.
An early secular dogma promoted the need for legal abortion, because there were too many botched back-alley abortions, and women were dying needlessly. It was said that ten thousand women died of such abortions. On whose authority? Bernard Nathanson, a leading Pro-abortion doctor who co-founded the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL), subsequently converted to the Pro-Life cause. He was asked how NARAL had come by that number. He said simply, "We made it up."
Backers of the second-hand smoke dogma make a similar claim: "Fifty thousand people die of second-hand smoke each year." Where did they get that number? For years the federal government mandated that each pack of cigarettes bear the following warning label that said in effect: "Correct use of this product will kill you." Nothing happened. Smokers knew they would die someday just like everybody else, and they wanted to die a happy death. So Anti-Smoking Activists came up with a new strategy. They said: "Correct use of this product will kill you - AND US!" Now that's a different story! The activists won the day, and smokers must now go hide under a tree 300 feet from any living being in order to have a smoke. Who cares if a number had to be made up? I submit that common sense alone will tell you there is no way to PROVE second-hand smoke kills anyone, much less 50,000 people a year. We must take it on faith.
Such apocalyptic devices are frequently necessary to advance a cause that will not be readily accepted, especially one with religious overtones. What's the last time you heard a real fire and brimstone sermon/homily? Turn on the television and you hear one every day - from the prophets of the fastest growing secular dogma sweeping the country and the world: climate change, or global warming caused by mankind. Yes, the temperature has risen about a degree the past 125 years, but in spite of all the anecdotal evidence that it has happened, there is not a shred of proof it is caused by mankind, nor can it EVER BE PROVEN! The only thing we know for certain about the earth's climate is that IT IS ALWAYS CHANGING! The main cause for earth's warming is the sun, and Who's in charge of the sun?
Nonetheless, there are hysterical claims that global warming is caused by mankind, and therefore we must put a stop to it! The leaders of the G-8 Economic Summit Meeting, for example, agreed with this hypothesis/theory and in all humility stated: "We must not allow the temperature to rise more than 3.6 degrees in the next hundred years." WOW! Did you know that we pipsqueak humans are now in charge of the planet? We are so powerful that we can control the earth's climate! Then please make it cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter, with sufficient rain for an abundant harvest. Oh, we can't do that? Just who's in charge here? Seems to me we can't even make a decent forecast of next week's weather, much less change it. But what do I know?
There are many political and ideological activists promoting this dogma for various reasons. But by far it's most fervent advocates are environmentalists. Secular dogma is part of their religion, and its sacrament of initiation is absolute and unquestioning faith in the doctrine of global warming. Part II of this article will examine this new religion in detail, and examine how readily Franciscans are drawn to it. I have personal experience with many advocates of this new religion. Particularly troubling was a conversation I had with a Catholic friend of some thirty years. When I called the dogma of global warming a hoax, you'd think I had questioned the divinity of Jesus Christ! All hell broke loose, and I was told in no uncertain terms to join the village idiot because I had no idea what I was talking about! Further, I am not to show up on her doorstep again until further notice, which may not be forthcoming in this life. I should have known better. She is a longtime environmentalist, and believes every word that comes from a certain unscrupulous political party that loves to scare people to death with destructive, untrue doctrines.
How I would love to see such fervor directed to the love of God, instead of wasted on stupid and meaningless worldly issues! But today, via the wonders of moral relativism, everyone has his own pet version of the truth, and Truth Itself is often rejected. The world after the Fall is the enemy of Truth. Yet we listen to the worldly, and wonder why we are confused. The Israelites were set apart from other nations to be trained in the ways of God, and to reject the ways of pagan nations. The worldly become nothing but "a bit of pollution" concerned only about impending earthly destruction - rather than construction of a heavenly homeland where only God-centered, grace-full souls who have learned the real meaning of life will even want to enter, a false-prophet-free zone.
The real crisis in the world is the eternal war of good vs. evil, not global warming. If we are accused of being dogmatic, it better be for dogmas based on faith in Jesus Christ! We have an opportunity to get to know the One who has overcome the world: Jesus, through "The Universal Call to Deep Contemplative Intimacy with the Holy Trinity," compliments of Fr. Dubay at our retreat. Come and see. Learn "One Thing Necessary."
REFLECTIONS FROM MEMBERS:
In the Storms of Life We Must Immerse Ourselves in the Ocean of Trust
Recently, the cares of family, of business, of life in general, overwhelmed me to a point I could barely walk. Exhausted, I went to Our Lord in Adoration and asked of Him strength and light. In this meditation, I understood the following, which I share with you, as I think it applies to all of us.
I am as one who lives upon the surface of the ocean. Every wave that comes along is felt, and tosses me from side to side. I am constantly fighting the current, the tide, trying to stay on course. This constant struggle saps my strength. When a ship passes by, or the winds blow, the large waves nearly capsize me. Already weakened, every ounce of strength is applied to the oars, to keep my small boat upright. When a storm blows up, I am finished. My boat overturns, and flailing with what little strength is left, my head goes under the waves.
It is here the meditation took an unexpected turn. I would have thought Our Lord would suggest that I leave my small, independent craft, and board the sturdy Bark of Peter, or perhaps leave the ocean entirely, and make for the security of land.
Instead, I was told that if I were to find the necessary strength for the storms of life, I must enter into the depths of the ocean. Surprised, I asked Our Lord how can this be? I would drown! Yes, I would indeed drown if I were to continue relying upon my own means and methods, but then, wasn't I capsizing anyway? Realizing I had nothing to lose, we continued on.
Within the deepest depths of the ocean, all is still and calm. There may even be a hurricane upon the surface, leaving disaster in its wake upon both sea and land, but not even a ripple is felt below. "How does one arrive there?" I ask. "By Trust" is the reply. One cannot be immersed so deeply on one's own without being crushed, or lost in the dark, or frozen by the cold. One can only arrive there through Trust in Him, in Jesus.
"I will give you My lungs, My breath, so you can breathe, and will not drown. I will give you My Body, so that you will be encased within Me, and the sea will not crush you. I will be your Light, your eyes, so that you can see in the darkness that will surround you. I will enclose you within the depths of my Sacred Heart, so that the Fire of My Love will warm you. Do you see? All has been taken care of. But you must come to Me in Trust, or you cannot dwell here, as it is a place found only through Trust."
"Lord, I do not understand how it is I can live there with You, while I am called to live in the world, which is upon the surface. My family is there, my work is there. Do you want me to leave them?"
"Don't leave Me to go to them, bring them to Me. You do this when you do not get upset by the ripples, even the storms of life, the cares and turmoil that one encounters upon the surface. When you Trust in Me, you live within My depths always."
(Penny is a pen name for a BSP member who wishes to remain anonymous. Please keep her and her family in prayer. )
MORNING STAR: News on the Association
Bishop Nienstedt - Welcoming Mass held at the Cathedral.
A welcoming Mass was held for now Coadjutor Archbishop John Nienstedt at the Cathedral of St. Paul on June 29th. Shelley and Bruce attended and met the Archbishop. A future meeting will be held with him as his schedule permits and we will keep the members informed of any new developments as they happen.
We are also delighted to report that Archbishop Nienstedt will hold Mass for us at the retreat this year at the request of, and in place of, Archbishop Flynn, who has done that every year since the retreats began. We are very excited to meet our new Archbishop and hope he will be as supportive of the Association as has been Archbishop Flynn. Archbishop Flynn hopes to retire in about a year.
Archbishop Coadjugtor Reverend John Nienstedt
The Chapel at Prior Lake Retreat Center
The Universal Call
to Deep Contemplative Intimacy with the Holy Trinity
By Father Thomas Dubay – Retreat Master
Archbishop John Nienstedt 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!
Plans are being finalized for our retreat this year:
We are excited to have Fr. Thomas Dubay, renowned author and retreat master, as our retreat master this year. He is coming in from Washington, D.C. We still have openings as of this newsletter, but they are filling fast. If you want to attend please contact BSP headquarters at
email@example.com ASAP. We have a large number of professed Secular Franciscans who will also be attending, which is very exciting.
Professions at the Retreat this year:
Janet Klasson BSP, from Coronation, Canada, will be professing for life to the Rule of 1221, the Rule of the BSP, at the retreat. It is expected that Father Dubay, our retreat master, will take the professions at Mass on Sunday, July 29th. Also vowing to the life will be Sister Jane Ellen O.S.F., Amarillo, Texas, with the approval of her spiritual director. We are blessed to have these members at our retreat to profess to the Rule and the life of penance of the BSP.
Janet Klasson BSP and Irene Deprey SFO/BSP are working to create a Chapter in Canada. We also have members working on pulling Chapters together in Ohio and Florida. Please keep them and their efforts in prayer. If you are interested in forming a Chapter please contact BSP headquarters.
The forums of the BSP are alive and well, and a wonderful way to share and dialogue with other members. We need this dialogue especially considering that we are all still so separated.
You can enter them from the member's page of the Web page. Just hit 'log in' on the Goto title, enter your name and password (which every member should have) and a new screen will open the forums to you. You may then participate and read as you like. If you have forgotten your password, or otherwise have difficulty accessing the forums, please contact BSP Headquarters at
firstname.lastname@example.org and we can help you with it.
The forums are password protected for a reason. To protect our conversations and material from the Spammers, and other troublesome people, most of all. So, never give anyone your password. The prayer list of the Association is also carried there, our formation programs, and what is there is published monthly to all of our members. If you find things on the forums that you have questions about feel free to contact BSP headquarters with your concerns. Thank you.
We love to post pictures of members and stories of member's activities and lives. If you have something you are willing to share please send it to us at
email@example.com and we will get it into a newsletter. You can also post these things to the forums. We recently received a photo of Michael Spotts BSP, a Postulant in Colorado.
Michael is on the far left with the beard - oldest son, Michael jr. in middle, wife Anita and two year old Samuel Isaac, and their wonderful parish priest, advisor and friend, blessed Father Bill Breslin. The picture was taken after a wonderful Friday night dinner the other week.
THE ADMONITIONS OF ST. FRANCIS
X. Exterior Mortification
Many people blame the devil or their neighbor when they fall into sin or are offended. But that is not right. Everyone has his own enemy in his power and this enemy is his lower nature which leads him into sin. Blessed the religious who keeps this enemy a prisoner under his control and protects himself against it. As long as he does this no other enemy, visible or invisible, can harm him.
Little St Bonaventure healed by St Francis, painted by Francisco de Herrera (1585-1654)
BROTHERS AND SISTERS OF PENANCE OF ST. FRANCIS
a.k.a. the BSP, is a non-profit Private Association of the Faithful, which is dedicated to renewing the ancient way of penance as contained in the First Rule of the Third Order of St. Francis of 1221 for lay people in our modern world. We have the blessing of the Catholic Church to do this through several of its bishops. If you are bound by another Rule of life in another profession of the way of St. Francis that does not permit you to enter other religious families you are nonetheless invited to become an Honorary member of our Association and add the elements of this beautiful way of life that Saint Francis of Assisi gave us to the lifestyle of your profession.
All members, and Franciscans, are welcome to submit articles for consideration for inclusion in this newsletter if they are directed towards the spiritual formation of members or are the outgrowth of the lifestyle of the Association. Just send them to the BSP at
firstname.lastname@example.org. Feel free to share this newsletter with your friends or neighbors. It is intended to be the primary monthly communication of the Association. And if you can find it in your heart and in your budget remember that donations to the BSP are used strictly to promote the lifestyle and are tax deductible. We remain, always, sincerely yours in the love of Jesus Christ!
Bruce and Shelley Fahey BSP
Welcome to the Brothers and Sisters of Penance!
"If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life maimed than with two hands to go into Gehenna, into the unquenchable fire."