MORNING STAR: Retreat 2007 News
Left to right: Bruce Fahey, Janet Klasson, Archbishop John Nienstedt, Sr. Jane-Ellen, and Shelley Fahey at the Franciscan Retreat Center in Prior Lake, Minnesota at BSP Retreat 2007
Janet Klasson B.S.P. professed and Sr. Jane-Ellen Smith O.S.F. vowed to live the Rule of 1221, the Rule of BSP before Archbishop John Nienstedt, the newly appointed Archbishop for the Diocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis at this retreat. It was the high point of the retreat for the eleven BSP members present, and for the Association as a whole.
Sister Jane-Ellen will remain in the Order of St. Francis and continue to serve in her community. She had the permission of her spiritual director to vow to the Rule of the BSP. Her vow included vows to poverty, chastity, and humility. Her vow of obedience remains in the O.S.F. She hopes to bring the message and mission of the Brothers and Sisters of Penance of St. Francis into her Order. That message is that it is authentic, holy and good to live the lifestyle that St. Francis gave us if we want to be called Franciscans.
Janet Klasson B.S.P. will continue to serve the BSP community in her work and writing. She and Irene Deprey of Calgary, B.C., are forming a Chapter in Canada, our first outside the U.S.A.
Archbishop Nienstedt sang to open his homily. "Day by day. Day by day. Grant us dear Lord to: see you more clearly; love you more dearly; and follow they more nearly; day by day."
Archbishop John Nienstedt at the Franciscan Retreat Center in Prior Lake, Minnesota
at BSP Retreat 2007
He then went on to talk about the ism's of our American society. Individualism, hedonism, and minimalism. Individualism in that everyone is looking out for number one. Themselves. Forgetting the needs of others. Hedonism in that people are following a new law: 'if it feels good do it." Finally, minimalism, which he interpreted to us as meaning that people do nothing more than is required.
He spent time telling us that if this is all that people are going to do. The minimum, what feels good, and what they want for themselves we are in serious trouble as a country. We will be overcome by the world!
He quoted the snapshot of the lifestyle e of the BSP and said these goals are good, that is worthwhile, and they would help us to center our love on Jesus.
He then took time to individually recognize and compliment Janet Klassen B.S.P. and Sr. Jane-Ellen Smith O.S.F., who were soon to make their profession and vows, respectively, to live the Rule of 1221 for all of their life, the Rule of the BSP. The he took their professions before all present.
At the end of their professions he called forward all of the professed members of the BSP and , and posed two questions to them: "Do you profess to live the Rule of 1221, that St. Francis gave you according to the Statutes of the BSP? Do you promise to live the Gospel more fully, and pursue the virtues of poverty, chastity, and humility…" Those professed resoundingly replied: "We do" and in these simple acts the Association was affirmed anew in the Church. Praise God!
The Professed members of Morning Star and Our Lady of Sorrows Chapters renew their professions before Archbishop John Nienstedt.
The Archbishop asked the professed:
"Do you wish to renew your profession to live to the best of your means and ability, for all of your lives, the Rule of 1221 that St. Francis gave you, according to the Statutes of the Brothers and Sisters of Penance of St. Francis for the Love of God and the good of your souls." We replied: "We do!"
"By this commitment do you promise to live the Gospel more fully and to pursue more fervently the virtues of poverty, chastity, and humility, which the Saints all loved and promoted." Again we replied: "We do!"
He then encouraged us and blessed us. Praise God! It was very simple but beautiful.
This was a very exciting moment in history for the BSP. The first professions were taken by Archbishop Flynn on January 11, 2003. With his retirement in the next year Archbishop Nienstedt will lead the 232 parishes, and more than 400 priests of the diocese. This was his "first week on the job he said" and he feels like it is his first day in kindergarten again! He counts the BSP as a viable and authentic religious family in the diocese, as did Archbishop Flynn. Fr. Dubay said that the Archbishop's presence at our retreat was cause for confidence, and joy, true discernment that the mission of the BSP was authentic and holy. More important to us even than any mystical gifts the Lord has given us during the founding of the Association.
Father Thomas Dubay addresses retreatants at Franciscan Retreat Center in Prior Lake, Minnesota on the nature and means of developing a close and intimate relationship with the Holy Trinity through contemplative prayer. His talks were completely inspiring and included many 'how to' tips for those present.
The theme of Retreat 2007 was how to develop a deep and intimate relationship with the Holy Trinity. The subject was essentially contemplative prayer. It is a unique form of prayer that Fr. Dubay calls the 'simplest of all', yet it is the least understood of all. In the course of the entire retreat he would never define 'how to do it', but he would repeatedly define what is meant by contemplation. It is not a technique. It is all about love. Loving God. Being in love with God. For those interested a good way to get to understand more about it is to read Fr. Dubay's book called "Fire Within". That said outlined below are a few more details of what was shared. Hopefully at some point in the future we will be successful in transcribing the talks of Fr. Dubay and get them posted to the Web page somewhere.
Again, there is no technique. It is not transcendental meditation. It is not Buddhist. It is not meditation. It is, on the other hand, the one thing necessary to a deep relationship with God. It is something that God gives, and unless He gives it you don't have it. You cannot do it to yourself. The call is universal; to every human being on the planet! God wants us to be head over heals in love with Him. It is the only way to true and complete fulfillment. It is the summit of the prayer life. Our prayer life and we cannot reach it if we don't pray contemplatively.
It is affected by our affections. That is where we spend our time, and the business and clutter of this world. God will never force Himself on us. He will never speak first. So, if we don't create silence, and abide in it, we will not experience the sweet touches of His love as He gives them in contemplation, we won't hear Him.
There are some things that really hinder progress in contemplation. Dryness of prayer. It usually starts out very dry, meaning very distracted and mentally interrupted. It is not easy. Time pressures of our lives do not help us. We cannot hurry this prayer. We must make time for it to happen. But people usually snag up right away on the dryness of getting started praying contemplatively.
And, you really gotta want it to make it happen. Time pressures hinder us greatly. We need to make time for prayer. We need to do what we must do to make it happen. Make time for God in our lives to open the door to the love of God in the way we pray and the time we give it. Make time for God to embrace us with His love.
We must live community, if we live in community, the way it is to be lived. In love. In open sharing and giving of ourselves. We cannot go to God hindered by clinging anxiety or upset over other members of our community. We must always make peace first before we pray. The Lord says that in Scripture: "If you bring your gift to the altar and there recall that your brother has anything against you, leave your gift there at the altar, go first and be reconciled with your brother, and then come and offer your gift." (Mt. 5:24)
We need to solve the problem of noise. Ours is a noisy society. TV, cars, talking, video games, bingo, casinos, rock concerts, on and on. The noise goes on! You cannot find God in the midst of this noise. His is always the softest of voices, and he will never speak up over others. Talk about respect! And then there is internal noise and external noise. I have just described the external noise sources, or some of them. The inner noise is all the things that are going on in our lives! Family things. Work things. Picnics, and parties, and projects galore! Clutter. Internal noise. Among other things these things don't just burden us with noise, they also take time. We need to give ample time to deepening prayer to attain the objective of a loving and intimate relationship with God.
We also need a sparing, sharing lifestyle. One dedicated to helping others and taking and using the least of things that we can. If we have two yacht's, Archbishop Fulton Sheen once said, one belongs to the poor. If we have two houses, one belongs to the poor. It isn't that we have things. The things cannot have us. We need to be focused on God and give all things to Him in a true spirit of gratitude for all He gives us. His giving never ends. It is His love in motion. We must be grateful!
We need to suffer, and to offer our suffering in union with Jesus to become one with Him. We all suffer. Think about it. Even 50 years of suffering if you had cancer say, is nothing, absolutely nothing, when compared to eternity! It is an eye blink compared to eternity!
Finally we need 'unworldliness', that is to be in the world but not of it. We cannot avoid being in the world. We are in the world by God's will. We must avoid letting the world overcome us. (This is the BSP motto! )
And never forget the words of Von Hugal. "The decisive preparation for prayer lies not in the prayer itself, but in the life prior to the prayer." We prepare for prayer by how we live. We must live the Gospel generously in every way!
Groupshot (BSP members only) ...
A moment during Bishop's Mass ...
REFLECTIONS FROM A NEWLY PROFESSED:
by Janet Klasson BSP
Then Jesus said to his disciples, "Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it."
"In the world, but not of it, for Christ" - These words have taken on new meaning for me since making my profession to live the Rule of St. Francis of 1221 with the Brothers and Sisters of Penance this past weekend. God showered the Association and me with so many blessings throughout the retreat! I feel so much gratitude for the whole experience, that I feel called to use this space to give glory and praise to God by listing at least a few of them.
One of the greatest blessings of this trip has been to spend a week with Bruce and Shelley, getting to know them on a personal level, praying with them, discussing spiritual matters and matters concerning the BSP. It was also a true blessing to meet, pray and share with my brothers and sisters in the Association. I have truly felt embraced by the community that I have embraced. Thanks be to God!
I was with Bruce and Shelley on the day that Archbishop John Nienstedt sent them an email in which he agreed to take the professions of Sr. Jane and me at Saturday evening Mass. It was a moment of great rejoicing, let me tell you, and very humbling as well. It was a great honor to meet the Archbishop and to have him take our professions. He is a wonderful worker in the field of the Lord. And his support of the Association is something that should cause us all to lift our voices to God in praise. Thanks be to God!
Meeting Sr. Jane Ellen was such a treat! We certainly felt a connection having the same name and professing on the same day. I feel she will be a great blessing to the Association. She has much to share and to teach. I would have liked to spend more time with her, but can only say, "Thanks be to God for Sr. Jane, BSP!"
The Franciscan Retreats Center at Prior Lake is a beautiful oasis of prayer and peace. I also want to thank God for the warmth, comfort and hospitality we received from the Brothers and the staff. It was also wonderful to experience the rhythm of prayer in community—the Liturgy of the Hours, Holy Mass, and adoration with the opportunity for confession on the day I made my profession. Thanks be to God, merciful and just!
Adoration especially was a blessed time for me, especially after I made my profession. The Lord filled me with his love during that hour and indeed I could not stop crying the whole time. A young man, having spent the hour listening to me blow my nose, came to me afterwards and handed me a package of Theraflu. It was very cute! And a nice gesture, even though he may have misinterpreted my nasal congestion. Thanks be to God for the gift of holy tears, and for the gift of a caring young man.
Certainly Fr. Dubay's talks on Contemplative Prayer whetted our spiritual appetites for the deep prayer that Fr. Dubay insists is a universal call. It was almost jaw-dropping to realize that what St. Theresa of Avila and St. John of the Cross, not to mention our own beloved St. Francis experienced, is within reach of all of us. I am afraid I do not have sufficient gratitude to offer God for offering us the unimaginable gift of total union in this life with Triune Beauty. Fr. Dubay helped us to see that this union is "the one thing necessary". I offer the gratitude of the Blessed Mother and all the angels and saints as I sing from the bottom of my heart, "Thanks be to God, One and True!"
"I have come that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete." In the days leading up to the retreat, I felt in my heart a holy anticipation of the joy that would be mine, deep abiding joy that no earthly circumstance could shatter. What God has desired for me, his grace has made possible. What more can I say? THANKS BE TO GOD! ALLELUIA! ALLELUIA!
Janet Klasson BSP
NO GREATER LOVE: by PAUL BEERY BSP
"When you turn back to Him with all your heart, to do what is right before Him, then He will turn back to you, and no longer hide His Face from you." Tobit 13
I wish to lead into Fr. Dubay's retreat theme on contemplative prayer by beginning with an insight from Pope Benedict's new book: "Jesus of Nazareth." The more I delved into this masterpiece, the more inadequate I
felt in commenting on it. It deserves a full hearing, for Pope Benedict makes a great point which leads right into the retreat theme. Much of the following will be from Pope Benedict's Introduction to "Jesusof Nazareth."
"The Book of Deuteronomy contains a promise that is completely different from the messianic hope expressed in other books of the Old Testament, yet it is of decisive importance for understanding the figure of Jesus.
The object of this promise is not a king of Israel and king of the world - a new David, in other words - but a new Moses. Moses, interpreted as a prophet, specific and unique to Israel alone."
Not just any prophet, either. Other religions sought to answer questions tormenting the human heart on our origins and destiny. Their "prophets"
would at times do terrible things to satisfy their gods, or obtain knowledge of the future. "When you come into the land which the Lord your God gives you, you shall not learn to follow the abominable practices of those nations.
There shall not be found among you any one who burns his son or his daughter as an offering, any one who practices divination, a soothsayer, a medium, wizard, or necromancer. The Lord your God will raise up for you a PROPHET LIKE ME from among you…Him shall you heed." (Deut. 18, 9-15).
Pope Benedict continues:
"The harsh critique of false prophets occurs again and again in the prophetic writings. The conclusion of Deuteronomy returns to the promise and takes it far beyond the institution of prophecy, giving the figure of the prophet its true meaning: 'And there has not arisen a prophet in Israel since - like Moses - whom the Lord knew face to face.'" (Deut. 34, 10). When the Chosen People reached the Promised Land, it didn't automatically confer happiness upon them. They needed to know the Lord. Who could show them the way?
Even the vision of Moses was limited: "You cannot see my face. You shall see my back; but my face shall not be seen." (Ex. 33, 20-23).
Pope Benedict goes on:
"This mysterious text played an important role in the history of Jewish and Christian mysticism; it served as the basis for attempts to discern how far contact with God can extend in this life and where the boundaries of mystical vision lie. The new Moses will be granted what was refused the first one - a real, immediate vision of the Face of God, and thus the ability to speak entirely from seeing…"
David only partly fulfilled the criteria of a new prophet. Few were so beloved of God. Fr. Dubay gave numerous examples from the Psalms of David which showed the depth of contemplative prayer he had attained. But David
did not see the Face of God, nor could he speak entirely from seeing. And as "king of the world," he was enmeshed in the business of a worldly kingdom, which proved to be a problem for the Son of David: "Will you
restore the kingdom to Israel?"
The new Moses, the PROPHET LIKE ME, is Jesus Christ. And as the new Moses, Jesus is the mediator of a New Covenant greater than that of Mount Sinai. "No one has ever seen God; it is the only Son, who is nearest to the
Father's Heart, who has made Him known." (Jn. 1, 18). Here was someone who actually "knew" and conversed with God familiarly. The Jews of that day were startled when Jesus began talking about God His Father as though
He knew Him intimately. Such a thing was unheard of. They didn't know that something far greater than Moses or Elijah was here. We have all heard the story, and grown used to it. But to the people of His day, what Jesus told them was unbelievable, even by the standards of Moses. His teachings were radical, new right down to the very root.
"Where did He get all this?" Fr. Dubay went out of his way to explain that what Jesus taught was so radical that it had NEVER BEEN HEARD ON EARTH BEFORE! All who heard it were amazed. He claimed to know God as His
Father. No one had ever claimed such intimacy with God before, not even Moses. This was truly a Divine Revelation! The first time anyone had ever revealed the Mind of God to mankind. No man-made religion has a clue when it comes to the thoughts and ways of the Creator, which as Isaiah reminds us, are as far above our thoughts and ways as the heavens are above the earth.
Pope Benedict wants every reader of the New Testament to ask the following: "Where does Jesus' teaching come from, and how is His appearance in history to be explained?" His answer: "In Jesus the promise of the new prophet is fulfilled. What was true of Moses in only fragmentary form has now been fully realized in the PERSON of Jesus: He lives before the Face of God, not just as a friend, but as a Son; He lives in the most intimate unity with the Father. His teaching does not come from any school. It is radically different from what can be learned in schools. It is different; it is interpretation 'with authority.' Jesus' teaching is not the product of human learning, of whatever kind. It originates from immediate contact with the Father, from 'face-to-face' dialogue - from the vision of the
One who rests close to the Father's Heart. It is the Son's Word. Without this inner grounding, His teaching would be pure presumption. That is just what the learned men of Jesus' time judged it to be, and they did so precisely because they could not accept its inner grounding: seeing and knowing face-to-face." A wonderful grounding in our Faith by Pope Benedict.
One would think that when the Son of God speaks, PEOPLE LISTEN! We listen. We believe. "You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God, the One who is to come into the world. Lord, to whom shall we go; You have the Words of Eternal Life." There is more to life than humdrum daily routine. We learn of a God who is not distant and aloof. We learn of a God who wishes to know us face-to-face, to share His Love and Happiness with us both now and in eternity.
Fr. Dubay taught us the reality of the Universal Call to Transforming Union, profound intimacy with the Holy Trinity. Everyone is called to contemplative prayer, best defined as a "Deep Love Communion with Triune Beauty." We don't deserve this incredible honor. Original Sin keeps us in a perpetual inferior place. We have no control over God's action in our life except to say "No" to Him. He will not be manipulated. Our bargaining power is extremely limited. All we can do is be generous, and strive to attain purity of heart. "Lord, teach us to pray."
Fr. Dubay said that the best preparation for prayer is the life we lead BEFORE we pray, that is, to LIVE THE GOSPEL WELL! Do what is right. Then God will no longer hide His Face from us, and we will know the joy of His Love.
by Paul Beery BSP
THE ADMONITIONS OF ST. FRANCIS
XI. No one should be scandalized at another's fall
Nothing should upset a religious except sin. And even then, no matter what kind of sin has been committed, if he is upset or angry for any other reason except charity, he is only drawing blame upon himself. A religious lives a good life and avoids sin when he is never angry or disturbed at anything. Blessed the man who keeps nothing for himself, but renders "to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's" (Mt. 22: 21.
The Holy Family, painted by Luca Signorelli in 1490
Florence, Italy, Galleria degli Uffizi
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!
"I tell you, in just the same way there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need of repentance."