'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

November 2007

St Francis of Assisi

A REMINDER: The Fast of St. Martin

RULE: ARTICLE 9
They are to fast daily, except on account of infirmity or any other need, throughout the fast of St. Martin from after said day until Christmas, and throughout the greater fast from Carnival Sunday until Easter.


STATUTES: ARTICLE 9
a. Penitents are to observe a pre-Christmas fast from November 12, the day after the Feast of St. Martin, until Christmas and a pre-Easter fast from Ash Wednesday until Easter.

Father Robert Altier
VISITOR'S MESSAGE: Advent
Homily by Fr. Robert Altier First Sunday of Advent
Reading I (Jeremiah 33:14-16) Reading II (1 Thessalonians 3:12-4:2) Gospel (St. Luke 21:25-28, 34-36)

Today we begin the holy season of Advent. Advent is sometimes difficult for people because it is pulling from two different ends. That is, it is preparation for the coming of Our Lord into the world at Christmas two thousand years ago, as we prepare ourselves now to celebrate that glorious feast; and it is also a preparation for the Second Coming of Christ at the end of the world. And so it looks back and it looks forward at the same time. That makes it somewhat difficult for people because there is kind of a built-in tension that is there. But it is not a bad tension because it reminds us there is a change that is about to happen and we have to be prepared for that change. If we think about it, it is a time of preparation where we unite ourselves with Our Blessed Mother as she prepares to give birth to her Son. And every mother who is about to give birth knows fully well there is going to be a major change that is about to happen in her life. Therefore, right before the child is born, the mother is very busy preparing the home, preparing the room for the child, preparing all of the different things to welcome the child not only into the world but into their home. That is exactly what we are being asked to do as well. It is a time of preparation. It is a time to prepare our hearts so that they will, as Saint Paul told the Thessalonians, be blameless and holy on the day of Our Lord Jesus Christ. He told the Thessalonians that they know how they are to conduct themselves, and says to them that they are already doing that, that they were taught by Saint Paul and the others how they were to conduct themselves as followers of Christ. We also know how we are to conduct ourselves.

The problem, of course, for most of us, is that since we live in this unfortunate society we have learned to conduct ourselves according to societal norms, not according to the norms of Jesus Christ. The early Christians were persecuted terribly because they did not live according to the way most of the people in the Roman society lived; they were living by a different standard. They were not living according to a bad standard, but in fact to a standard which was moral, which was upright, which was decent, which gave good example to people. They lived in many ways like the people around them, but in many ways they did not. That is precisely what each of us is called to as well. Unfortunately, for most Catholics, they have completely given up on Jesus and they are living according to the way of the world, pure and simple, giving into all of the materialism, all of the ease, all of the selfishness that our society tells us to get involved in.

We must reject that and we must live according to the way that the Lord has laid out for us through His Church. This time of Advent is a time of penance, which is why we are wearing purple during this holy season. It is not a time for parties. It is not a time for celebrating Christmas – it is a time for preparing for Christmas. Christmas begins on December 25th; it does not end on December 25th. Our society has already begun celebrating Christmas. There are radio stations which began playing Christmas music 24 hours a day starting on the first of November. The stores have had their Christmas decorations up already for several weeks. And the push has begun by the advertising and marketing agencies to make sure we all rush out and buy hordes of things so that we can all hear how much money the retailers made at the end of the season. That is not the spirit of Christmas. The spirit of Christmas is to be able to look at how Jesus chose to come into this world. He was not born in a department store; He was born in a manger. He was not heralded by those of greatness in society; He was rejected by those people and He continues to be rejected by those people. We cannot be giving in to the way that they have chosen for us to celebrate Christmas because for them Christmas has nothing to do with Jesus Christ – it has only to do with money. That was not what Our Lord was about. We need to make sure that our hearts are prepared. The Lord told us that we have to be vigilant, that we have to be praying. He told us that we have to keep watch at what is going on. But He told us also that we must be careful lest we get lax in the way we are living our lives and suddenly the day will catch us off guard like a trap.

This season of penance is not quite like the Lenten season of penance. Lent is a season of reparation where we are making up for our sins. Advent is a season of preparation where we prepare for the coming of the Lord. In both we do penance, but the disposition of the heart is slightly different. What we want to do now is to do penance so that our hearts are fully prepared to receive Our Blessed Lord, to make sure that we are not only in the state of grace but in general that our disposition is completely appropriate to be able to receive Jesus on Christmas morning. Even when you think about how our society prepares for Christmas, it is about the self. It is about how many gifts "I" am going to get, or how expensive they are, or whatever it may be. It is about putting up thousands and thousands of light bulbs out in your yard so that people "ooh" and "aah" over how impressive you are; it is all about "me". "Look at me." "Notice me." "See how much I am doing." "See what I am about." That is not the spirit of Christmas. The gifts that we give on Christmas are to reflect the gifts that the little shepherds and the magi brought to Jesus, because each one of us is made in the image and likeness of Jesus Christ and the Lord is to be born into the hearts of each one of us on Christmas. So we will give simple gifts to one another in memory and honor of the gifts that were given to Our Lord. It is not about how much one gets; it is about the spirit with which one gives. It is not about "me" – it is about the other.

When Jesus came into this world He did not come for Himself. When Our Lady gave birth to Our Lord it was not about herself. When the little shepherds who were sleeping out in the dirt of the fields came in, Our Lady did not pull her Son back and say, "You're dirty; stay away from my Child." She extended the Christ Child to them because it was for them that He came into this world. So too when the magi came, Our Lady extended her Son to them. For us, now, it is time to prepare, to be willing to take on penance in preparation for the coming of the Lord. Like the magi who saw the star from quite far away (time wise), they had to prepare for a journey. They had to wander through the desert. It probably took them better than two months to be able to get to Bethlehem from where they had begun. They were willing to do whatever it was going to require to come to the Lord. Our Lady, I suspect, was busy preparing the home in Nazareth when suddenly the governor decided it was time that everyone should go to their own place. Suddenly, Our Lady had to change her preparation and she had to prepare for a journey. At nearly nine months' gestation, Our Lady had to mount a donkey and make a rather treacherous journey of eighty miles on the back end of an animal, bouncing up and down at nine months' pregnancy. She had to do penance in preparation for the coming of the Lord. Then when the day came for Our Lord to be born, whatever preparation she had done in the home did not matter any longer because it was not there that Our Lord chose to be born.

What was necessary was the interior preparation of Our Lady's heart and of Saint Joseph's heart because Our Lord chose to be born into a stable, a place that would not have been in order, a place that would have been dirty and would have stunk – not unlike the world in which we live. It has become in many ways sort of like a barn. It stinks and it is dirty and it is filthy. We are not going to be able to get the world in preparation for the coming of Christ; therefore, what is required is to do what Our Lady and Saint Joseph did, that is, to prepare our hearts, to make sure that what happens is that our hearts are orderly and that they are beautiful and prepared for the coming of Jesus Christ. It is the interior disposition that matters to the Lord.

Now I would recommend, given the way that our society tries to celebrate Christmas, that each one of us can consider taking on some penance. Certainly, it is a time of fasting. But I would recommend, given our societal standards, that the way we can do some penance is to simply say, number one, "I will not put up my Christmas tree until it is nearly Christmas." We do not need Advent bushes; we need Christmas trees. Wait until Christmas. Do not put up your lights during Advent. It is to be a subdued time, a time of preparation. So do not turn on the lights all over your house. Do not put up the Christmas decorations until it is nearly Christmas. It would be like a woman who was with child going to the hospital a month early and she is saying, "Well, I'm here because I know I'm going to give birth pretty soon." For what? The labor pains have not started yet. The doctors would send her home. What is the Lord going to do if He looks down at us and says, "Why are you celebrating Christmas when it hasn't come yet?" Do not be having Christmas parties when it is not Christmas. Celebrate the season. Get an Advent calendar, perhaps an Advent wreath. You can do good works. One way to prepare for your family, because the kids need to have something to do, is to put the little manger out and then have the kids do good works, charitable works toward one another or toward others. With each act of charity that they do, have them take one piece of straw for each act of charity and put it in the manger because through those acts of charity they are preparing a soft and beautiful place for Our Lord to lay His head on Christmas Day. In this way, they can get into the spirit of the Advent season so that they can properly celebrate Christmas.

This is not the way of the world, but it is the way we have been taught by Christ through His Church. That is what Saint Paul tells the Thessalonians: that they already know how they are to be living. So do we. Now if it strikes us as being a little bit odd simply because it is not what we are accustomed to in this society, I would simply recommend looking forward another few months and asking the question, "Why is it that we refuse to celebrate Advent?" Christmas we refuse to celebrate as well. Notice that we have them backwards. Advent is a time of fasting; Christmas is a time of feasting. Instead, during Advent we feast, and then during Christmas we fast because we have to take off all the weight we put on during Advent. We have it all backwards. We whoop it up during Advent, we put up the decorations, we celebrate Christmas, and then the day after Christmas everything comes down and we refuse to celebrate the Christmas season. Now jump ahead a couple of months and ask yourself what we do during Lent. We keep Lent. It is a time of penance – we actually maintain that – and we do not celebrate Easter until Easter Sunday. Then we celebrate Easter afterwards. You see, the concept is not that difficult. If we can do it during Lent and Easter, we should certainly be able to do it during Advent and Christmas. The concept is the same, but it is society that has been directing the way that we live our faith rather than our faith directing the way that society should live.

Do not let the retailers determine how you are going to celebrate Advent and Christmas; allow the Church to dictate that. Saint Paul told the Thessalonians that they are to live according to the way that was taught them and in which they were already living. Most Catholics today cannot say that. We know how we are to live; most of us are not doing it. The Lord was very clear about being prepared so that the day will not catch us off guard. We need to be prepared in the proper way. Not prepared by having hordes of gifts that we cannot even fit under the tree, but being prepared so that the heart has the right disposition, so that when the righteous Shoot of Jesse comes into this world, as promised right from the Book of Genesis and then through the prophets as we heard in the first reading in Jeremiah, that He will find other righteous offspring where He will be able to have a heart prepared, filled with love, cleaned up and put in order, filled with the grace of Christ, so that Christmas will truly be a glorious celebration not in the worldly way but a celebration of the coming of Jesus Christ into the world and into our individual lives.

So I beg you: Keep Advent as its own special season and spend it according to the way that the Church has taught us to live, not according to the ways of the world, so that when Christmas comes we will be able to celebrate that feast in its proper manner, in a way that is truly going to glorify not the self but Jesus Christ, Who has come into this world to save our souls.

Bruce Fahey and Shelley, his wife, BSP Administrators
ADMINISTRATOR'S MESSAGE:
ALL HALLOWED EVE

We just received a computer from 3M for our son, Mark, from a 3M Courier. Mark and his wife, Nicole, and new daughter, Alexis, our 18th grandchild, were with us and he works for 3M, as his father did for 40 years, and his computer had broken. So, he had it delivered here. We were wondering what to write on this month, and in that courier's farewell of 'Trick or Treat' came the subject. All Hallowed Eve...

On this day in 1995 bishop Roger Schwietz of Duluth met with us for the first time on the Brothers and Sisters of Penance. The Association had already existed for nearly 10 years prior to this on an informal basis in the Secular Franciscan Order as the Stella Matutina (Morning Star) movement. Named by our first visitor and dear friend (once called our 'puppet' by others in the movement who later, posthumously, praised his support) Father Valerius Messerich O.F.M. that Movement would become the BSP after the Lord made His will known.

Little did we know what it would mean, that visit to Bishop Schwietz. We had received the call to form the Association from the Lord. Mystical, and unmistakable. We were in the Secular Franciscan Order and presupposed the Association we were to form would be formed in that Order. We did not feel a need to go outside the Order but got stopped in the Order everywhere we turned. Finally, one good friar, Fr. Ken Smits O.F.M. Cap, at Marathon Retreat Center in Marathon, Wisconsin, said we needed to go to the Church. What the Lord had asked us to do was NOT a matter for the SFO. So, we did. To Bishop Roger Schwietz who was factually Bruce's confirmation sponsor as a seminarian and had advanced in the ensuing 30 years to bishop of the Duluth diocese (now Archbishop of the Anchorage, Alaska archdiocese). An easy contact, like the easy familiarity of family that God gives us all. And that would start the storms.

The storms? Right? Storms of activity. Storms of rejection, even by family and friends. Storms of work, which enhanced with the coming of the BSP, and they still go on. It is in these storms the BSP was formed and in their continuing that it was confirmed. Such is the way of the Lord. Expect it in your life if you wish to live this life! If all is peaceful you may have lost the way! Our Visitors have often told us that. So, the storms go on.

Bishop Schwietz brought us back to our home diocese in a meeting with our Archbishop, Harry Flynn, also his friend. There, in that meeting with Father Valerius and the two bishops we received permission to:
1. live the Rule of 1221,
2. gather in support of it, and
3. promote it in the Church.

In a later letter from Archbishop Flynn, the letter now posted on our Web page, we would receive written confirmation of the approvals given that night. The night of the Annunciation no less: March 25th, 1996. God surely did pick these dates for us! From All Hallowed Eve with bishop Schwietz we went to the Annunciation with our Archbishop!

We could go on from there, and may one day in a book, but for now let's looks further at those storms!

We have tried a dozen times in a dozen different ways to find a niche in the SFO for the BSP. We have written and called leaders after leaders on a National and local basis. Outcome? We were asked to leave in a formal letter. In that letter we were also called a 'Franciscan family' and told that 'profession' to the Rule of 1221 in the BSP was equivalent to "profession" in the Secular Franciscan Order. It is on file, but more than that it should be written in every heart of every member and friend. Profession to the Rule of 1221 is the same as Profession in the Third Order of St. Francis, the modern Secular Franciscan Order! Rest in that for a while dear members.

We have been rejected by numerous Franciscan friars, our own, simply by reason that no one wants to become our Visitor in the Franciscan Order since Father Val. We have been successful in finding Visitors in other Orders, but not in the Franciscan Order. In a most recent effort we spoke to the Vicar Provincial of the O.F.M. Conventuals in this diocese and, while he was most courteous and respectful of our 'Franciscan family' not one of the friars under him would be our Visitor. It has happened in a similar call to most of the other Franciscan families. The BSP has still the reputation of being a rebel group. Interesting, since all we are about is living the Rule St. Francis gave us, which no one denies! Interesting for sure.

The biggest storm undoubtedly was the rejection by friends. The worst of these occurred some years ago when one of our best friends in the Association (or so we thought), who helped create the documents that now lead the Association, without warning or discussion with us of any kind, left the Association when she disagreed with us on important leadership issues during a most serious time of reorganization. Angry with us, or worse, she did what she could to rip the BSP apart. Closed our Web page which she controlled and then posted an Internet message saying our Web page was dead to keep us from recreating it (her message still exists out there somewhere we have been told); said the BSP no longer existed (on her web page); contacted all members and told them to join her group; and called us 'uncharitable' to all who would listen. Then she started her own group using our documents! Yet, in this greatest of storms, a firestorm for sure, God was with us, and after some quiet moves of adjustment with the help of good members who remained, the BSP moved peacefully forward.

But, then, what is our mission? Promoting the Rule St. Francis gave us in this modern world. Whatever the expense. We are persecuted, by our own, like Jesus. Franciscans and friends alike. In that is a message to everyone who wants to live this life. Expect persecution. Jesus warned us it would come. It is worst when it is so close to home. What is our vision? We are a lay family in the Church, and we are. Our Visitor, well aware of this history said we have been truly blessed! Amen! Thank you Lord! It still hurts though! Smile…

So, on All Hallowed Eve there is a message for us all. In our history. It is in weakness that we are strong. (2Cor. 12:10) In following Christ we will be persecuted! (Mk. 10:30) Welcome to the BSP!

Now, let us prepare the way of the Lord for Christmas!

Peace to all!

Bruce and Shelley Fahey BSP

Janet Klasson
A meditation
From the Second Reading on the Feast of Christ the King
by Janet Klasson BSP

"All things were created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together." (Colossians 1:16-17)

Just before he ascended into heaven, Jesus gave his disciples the following instruction: "Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit." To Catholics of the 21st century the doctrine of the Trinity may seem to be elementary theology. Yet, it took the church over 300 years to formulate this central doctrine, and it has faced its share of challenges over the centuries.

Today the Trinity is once more under attack, but perhaps less overtly than in other ages. Today's attacks are more covert and subtle, which makes them all the more dangerous.

Scripture reveals to us and the church teaches that there is companionship within the one Divine nature. The Father, Son and Holy Spirit are distinct from one another in title and function, but they are not separate. Each person of the Holy Trinity knows with the same intellect and loves with the same will. The Trinity is perfect unity in perfect love with perfect knowledge.

The really revolutionary aspect of this teaching is that by being baptized into Christ the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, we are invited to participate fully in this eternal companionship. To paraphrase St. Paul, this is possible now only partially, dimly as in a mirror, but if we die united to Christ we too will experience forever perfect unity in perfect love with perfect knowledge. This is an amazing gift of grace.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church, section 260 says:

The ultimate end of the whole divine economy is the entry of God's creatures into the perfect unity of the Blessed Trinity. (Cf. Jn 17:21-23) But even now we are called to be a dwelling for the Most Holy Trinity: "If a man loves me", says the Lord, "he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him, and make our home with him". (Jn 14:23)
St. Paul wrote in his letter to the Ephesians (4: 1-6):
I, then, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to live in a manner worthy of the call you have received, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another through love, striving to preserve the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace: one body and one Spirit, as you were also called to the one hope of your call; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
While we cannot in this life fully understand or fully live the perfect unity of the Trinity, we are instructed to live in a manner worthy of the call we have received. Unity in this life matters. Community in this life matters. We are called to love as God loves. That is the very meaning of life. God is a community, a communion. Knowing this truth, do we have the right to say, "I don't need organized religion to worship God"? Does God leave us this option? It does not make sense that he would say, "I live in perfect community and companionship, knowing as I am known and loving as I am loved, but it's really not that important. Just do your own thing." No, if you believe in the Trinity, you are called to live in community.

Colossians 1:15-20 tells us that Jesus is our access point to life in community. He it is in whom "all things hold together." He came to offer us "Communion" so that we would not "fall apart". This call to union and communion bears pondering, especially in our time.

The Trinity is under serious attack in the world today. Families are falling apart, societies and economies are crumbling, wars abound, individual rights are placed before the common good. The Body of Christ is being scourged as never before, often by those who bear the very name of Christ. As Brothers and Sisters in the community of the BSP, we must be vigilant about identifying the ways that we sin against the Trinity by sinning against unity. We must set a guard on our tongues and on our thoughts. The devil chortles with glee when someone within a community sins in this way. The inner life of hell is isolation and misery, his goal for all of us.

St. Thomas Aquinas said: "Where each one seeks his rights, there is chaos." That was spoken in the 13th century! He goes on to say: "For the secret of the divine community is infinite giving." That is what the inner life of the Trinity consists of - infinite giving. That is what we are called to in family, in community, in church, in the BSP. We should ask ourselves how we are living out this call to union and communion in every aspect of our lives.

Jesus says in John 17:26 I made known to them your name and I will make it known, (so) that the love with which you loved me may be in them and I in them.

This love that gives eternally is the love he wants us to have and to share. We are called to love as God loves. Believing in the Trinity should be life-changing. Living this unity through Jesus, our access point, is the only thing that can keep the world from falling apart. "In HIM all things hold together."

This doctrine of the Trinity is not an optional teaching, but the Divine plan of God for us from all eternity, a sharing in his internal life now in a limited way, but perfectly for all eternity.

O my God, Trinity whom I adore, help me forget myself entirely so to establish myself in you, unmovable and peaceful as if my soul were already in eternity. May nothing be able to trouble my peace or make me leave you, O my unchanging God, but may each minute bring me more deeply into your mystery! Grant my soul peace. Make it your heaven, your beloved dwelling and the place of your rest. May I never abandon you there, but may I be there, whole and entire, completely vigilant in my faith, entirely adoring, and wholly given over to your creative action.
Bl. Elizabeth of the Trinity
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

Janet Klasson BSP - Canada

Paul Beery
NO GREATER LOVE:
by PAUL BEERY BSP - November 2007

"The Kings of the earth rise up against the Lord and against His Anointed." (Ps. 2)

In November we celebrate the feast of Christ the King. Today most of us are far removed from the rule of kings and queens, but not from earthly rulers who lord it over their subjects, especially those who follow Jesus. Worse, some who live in a fallen world seem to want to subject themselves even to some type of tyrannical rule rather than submit to the One who said: "My yoke is easy and My burden is light. You will find rest for your souls." Mt. 11, 30. Choose Jesus as our King, or an earthly ruler?

In the book of Judges, chapter 9, God speaks to us through Jotham about the trees of the forest who wanted to anoint a king for themselves. They soon have cause for regret. This illustration is an accurate picture of how people seem incapable of accepting the freedom of the children of God. The Chosen People rebelled against God's plan for them. Israel wanted to imitate the nations around them and have a king. Direct rule from God wasn't good enough. Did they think He was too demanding? Would He change His Mind if there was an intermediary? Soften His position? A fallen race is not known for the brilliance of its intelligence or its choices. We have lots of personal experience.

What do we do when someone tries to liberate us from either internal or external forms of subjection? Dennis Prager explains a common reaction. He is a faithful Jew, a writer and radio talk show host on many Christian stations: a triumph of true ecumenism. He understands the role of the Chosen People in God's plan, and how those who defend them are blessed. His theory on earthly rulers, or bullies, and the PSYCHOLOGICAL EFFECT they have on people, can be applied to many areas of life. It goes like this…

A bully on the playground, for example, will prey on younger and weaker children, subjecting them to all sorts of indignities. Someone takes on the bully, and puts him in his place (I say "him," since the common perception is that bullies are usually men. To my surprise, a female safety coordinator for a school bus company stated that the majority of bullies in the school setting are females). Everyone is happy to see justice done, and the one who continually antagonizes them put in his place. Their liberator is praised and there is general rejoicing. But in a short time the liberator is gone, the bully is back, and the last state of the oppressed is worse than the first, for the bully is even meaner and nastier than before. The weak turn on their liberator and BLAME HIM FOR INTERFERING! In the eyes of the oppressed, their lives have not been improved, but worsened.

The weak were not strong or courageous enough to take on the bully themselves. So they had to make deals with the bully for their own survival. When they saw how their enemy could be mastered - though they could not do it - their weakness is exposed not only to themselves, but for all the world to see. It's humiliating to one's pride to make deals with the enemy instead of triumphing over him. Consequently, the weak gang up on their liberator because he has put them in this uncomfortable position; and because they can: he poses no threat to their safety. They don't gang up on the bully, however, the true source of their subjection, because he poses a great threat to them, and they continue to lack courage or ability to fight him (Pacifism - the belief that loving one's enemies requires submission to the bullies of the world and not fighting back - is a separate issue).

That's the short version of the story. The lessons to be drawn, however, are long and numerous. One obvious example of this dynamic is how the Chosen People turned on their liberator Moses -and ultimately God - in the desert. Freedom from slavery was not as important to them as a return to the security of the fleshpots of Egypt. Slavery under Pharaoh at least resulted in a varied diet. They wanted the rule of a golden calf they could see, over the insecurity of depending on a God they could not see. They chose an earthly bull(y) and suffered the consequences: 40 years wandering in the wilderness.

There are many examples of bullies on the local, national and international level. Criminals walk the street assaulting the weak. Gangs dominate neighborhoods. Peace officers protect the innocent as best they can, yet some say police brutality is a worse problem than crime. Ruthless dictators have their way with entire nations. Jihadist terrorists intimidate the world. Bullies are everywhere. It greatly offends most people's sense of justice to see them spill the blood of the innocent, the weak and helpless. Yet when liberators makes war on the bullies, they are attacked for "escalating violence."

Examine what's going on in Iraq today. A liberator freed the children on the playground from the bully, but the children began fighting each other. Then a new (terrorist) bully appeared on the scene inciting all to worse violence, and the Christian community ended up paying the price. Some say at least they were protected by bully #1, and harken back to the glorious days of slavery under Saddam. But who are the good guys and who are the bad guys in this drama? The children on the playground traded one bully for another, but learned a valuable lesson. The cost of freedom is high. They have finally learned that their true enemy is not their liberator, or each other, but Jihadist bullies who seek to violently impose their militant view of Islam on them, as well as Christians in 60 different nations around the world. This is a major turning point. Now all who suffer persecution from these militants have some hope that good Muslims everywhere will follow the lead of the Iraqis, who are uniting to fight the pernicious bully in their midst, which is perhaps the only way to true freedom and some semblance of peace in the world.

All this is part of the eternal war of good vs. evil, and it's sometimes hard to tell friend from foe. Not so in the realm of the spirit, judging from the reaction to Jesus our Savior, the Ultimate Liberator. He calls all to take responsibility for their lives. To have courage to live a life of virtue. To engage in permanent spiritual warfare with the ultimate bully, the Evil One. Human weakness wimps out and compromises all the time. Most people make deals with the enemy because they are unwilling or unable to fight the good fight, to die to self and live for others. Some reject God for putting them in the uncomfortable position of requiring a self-less choice for eternal life. Only the Saints stand firm, willing to shed their blood in imitation of Jesus their Savior, who died on the Cross to set us free from the oppression of sin, free to live a life of love in union with a God of Love.

Prager says Secular Jews reject their "Chosen-ness," because it confers upon them a special RESPONSIBILITY to live up to their calling. It requires courage for ANYONE to live up to God's call, thus obtaining true peace of mind through the freedom of the Children of God. Freedom to live in the Image of God, immune from the wiles of the Evil One, the ultimate bully. Freedom from a crippling human weakness that fractures our pride. Freedom to accept our Chosen-ness by courageously living a life pleasing to God our Father who loved us into existence, and His Anointed, our King and true Liberator.

"Sing and make music in your hearts to the Lord, always giving thanks for everything to God the Father in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ." Eph. 5, 19.

Paul Beery BSP

MORNING STAR: FROM OUR FORUMS AND MEMBERS

Authentic devotion to our Lady…

- First, true devotion to our Lady is interior, that is, it comes from within the mind and the heart and follows from the esteem in which we hold her, the high regard we have for her greatness, and the love we bear her.

- Second, it is trustful, that is to say, it fills us with confidence in the Blessed Virgin, the confidence that a child has for its loving Mother. It prompts us to go to her in every need of body and soul with great simplicity, trust and affection. We implore our Mother's help always, everywhere, and for everything. We pray to her to be enlightened in our doubts, to be put back on the right path when we go astray, to be protected when we are tempted, to be strengthened when we are weakening, to be lifted up when we fall into sin, to be encouraged when we are losing heart, to be rid of our scruples, to be consoled in the trials, crosses and disappointments of life. Finally, in all our afflictions of body and soul, we naturally turn to Mary for help, with never a fear of importuning her or displeasing our Lord.

- Third, true devotion to our Lady is holy, that is, it leads us to avoid sin and to imitate the virtues of Mary. Her ten principal virtues are: deep humility, lively faith, blind obedience, unceasing prayer, constant self-denial, surpassing purity, ardent love, heroic patience, angelic kindness, and heavenly wisdom.

- Fourth, true devotion to our Lady is constant. It strengthens us in our desire to do good and prevents us from giving up our devotional practices too easily. It gives us the courage to oppose the fashions and maxims of the world, the vexations and unruly inclinations of the flesh and the temptations of the devil. Thus a person truly devoted to our Blessed Lady is not changeable, fretful, scrupulous or timid. We do not say however that such a person never sins or that his sensible feelings of devotion never change. When he has fallen, he stretches out his hand to his Blessed Mother and rises again. If he loses all taste and feeling for devotion, he is not at all upset because a good and faithful servant of Mary is guided in his life by faith in Jesus and Mary, and not by feelings.

- Fifth, true devotion to Mary is disinterested. It inspires us to seek God alone in his Blessed Mother and not ourselves. The true subject of Mary does not serve his illustrious Queen for selfish gain. He does not serve her for temporal or eternal well-being but simply and solely because she has the right to be served and God alone in her. He loves her not so much because she is good to him or because he expects something from her, but simply because she is lovable. That is why he loves and serves her just as faithfully in weariness and dryness of soul as in sweet and sensible fervour. He loves her as much on Calvary as at Cana. How pleasing and precious in the sight of God and his holy Mother must these servants of Mary be, who serve her without any self-seeking. How rare they are nowadays!

- With love, Shirley Carabez BSP – Malta

Solemnities…

Solemnities and Sundays are always days on which we can rest our mortifications. We should never stop praying. Janet Klassen BSP, of Canada, posted this list recently on our forums. Keep a copy handy.

Solemnity: A solemnity is a principal day in the Church's liturgical calendar. Solemnities celebrate events in the life of Christ, Mary, and the saints which are of particular importance for the whole Church, Celebration of these special days begins the evening before. The following days are solemnities:

    January 1 - Mary, Mother of God
    Sunday between January 2 and January 8 - Epiphany
    March 19 - Joseph, Husband of Mary
    March 25 - Annunciation
    March/April (date varies) - Easter and Its Octave
    Ascension of the Lord (40 days after Easter)
    Pentecost (50 days after Easter)
    Sunday after Pentecost - Holy Trinity Sunday
    Sunday after Holy Trinity - Body and Blood of Christ
    Friday after Body and Blood of Christ - Sacred Heart
    June 24 - Birth of John the Baptist
    June 29 - Peter and Paul, Apostles
    August 15 - Assumption of the Blessed Virgin
    November 1 - All Saints
    November (date varies, but always Sunday) - Christ the King
    December 8 - Immaculate Conception
    December 25 - Christmas (Birth of the Lord) and its Octave

On Poverty…Posted by: Janet Klasson

Dear brothers and sisters,

Here are some excerpts from The Fulfillment of All Desire by Ralph Martin. This book is a treasure! I think the quotes listed here, taken from the chapter called "Growing in Freedom" can be helpful to us who strive to be "In the world, but not of it, for Christ".

>>>

"The goal of the process of detachment is not to stop loving the things and people of this world, but, quite to the contrary, to love them even more truly in God, under the reign of Christ, in the power of the Holy Spirit."

John of the Cross: " We are not discussing the mere lack of things; this lack will not divest the soul if it craves for all these objects. We are dealing with the denudation of the soul's appetites and gratifications. This is what leaves it free and empty of all things, even though it possesses them."

Bernard of Clairvaux: "They do possess earthly things, but with the spirit of men who possess nothing...The miser hungers like a beggar for earthly possessions, the man of faith has a lordly independence of them. The first is a beggar no matter what he owns, the latter by his very independence is a true owner."

Francis de Sales: "So also you can possess riches without being poisoned by them if you merely keep them in your home and purse and not in your heart. To be rich in effect and poor in affection is a great happiness for a Christian. By this means he has the advantages of riches for this world and the merit of poverty for the world to come....I willingly grant that you may take care to increase your wealth and resources, provided this is done not only justly but properly and charitably."

"Part of the vocation of those who have money is using it well under the guidance of the holy spirit....This must mean regularly giving part of our wealth away for the service of the Lord and the relief of the poor, and by personally serving them."

"The 'contentment' that the Scriptures talk about is dependent not on how much or how little money we have but on knowing who is caring for us - God himself!"

The Tridentine Mass… Posted by: Robin Gorton

Found this article- I would love to go to one, vaguely remember it from childhood- but… haven't yet.

October 28, 2007

By Kristi Moore - Roman Catholic churches nationwide are rushing to accommodate a surge in demand for the traditional Latin Mass, which is drawing a surprising new crowd: young people.

Since July, when a decree from Pope Benedict XVI lifted decades-old restrictions on celebrating the Tridentine Mass, seven churches in the Washington metropolitan area have added the liturgy to their weekly Sunday schedules.

"I love the Latin Mass," said Audrey Kunkel, 20, of Cincinnati. "It's amazing to think that I'm attending the same Mass that has formed saints throughout the centuries."

In contrast to the New Order Mass, which has been in use since the Second Vatican Council in 1969 and is typically celebrated in vernacular languages such as English, the Tridentine Mass is "contemplative, mysterious, sacred, transcendent, and [younger people are] drawn to it," said the Rev. Franklyn McAfee, pastor of St. John the Beloved in McLean. "Gregorian chant is the opposite of rap, and I believe this is a refreshing change for them."

Susan Gibbs, the director of communications from the Archdiocese of Washington, said the attraction demonstrated by the young adults is "very interesting."

Besides the liturgy's rich historical content and spiritual significance, the younger generations show an interest in the old becoming new again, said Louis Tofari of the Society of St. Pius X, an order of clergy that opposed the reforms of the Second Vatican Council.

"People who never grew up with the traditional Mass are finding it on their own and falling in love with it."

The Tridentine Mass helps people in their 20s and 30s who have grown up in a culture that lacks stability and orthodoxy see something larger than themselves: the glory of God, said Geoffrey Coleman of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter's Our Lady of Guadalupe seminary in Denton, Neb.

The Tridentine Mass "detaches me from the world and lifts my mind, heart and soul to heavenly things," said Michael Malain, 21, of Houston.

Kirk Rich, 21, of Oberlin, Ohio, remembers the first time he attended a Tridentine Mass and recalls thinking that a new religion had been invented.

"That's certainly what it seems like when comparing the two forms of the Mass," Mr. Rich said.

The biggest difference between the two forms is that the Tridentine Mass is always celebrated in Latin, except for the homily. The priest also leads the parishioners facing east, the traditional direction of prayer. The New Order Mass can be celebrated in Latin, but usually is not. There are also differences in some of the prayers, hymns and vestments.

As a result, the overall feel of the Tridentine Mass is more solemn and serious.

"The coffee social is after the traditional Latin Mass, not in the middle of it," said Kenneth Wolfe, 34, of Alexandria. "No one can say, with a straight face, that the post-Vatican II liturgy and sacraments are more beautiful than the ones used for hundreds and hundreds of years."

Like the churchgoers now demanding the celebration of the Tridentine Mass, the priests learning the rite are usually younger as well.

The Society of St. Pius X trains priests in the liturgy of the Tridentine Mass and has received as many as 25 requests a week for instruction since July.

"The phone was ringing nonstop, and I was getting e-mail after e-mail,' Mr. Tofari said. "The response was absolutely incredible; most of the people who call are below the age of 30."

The Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter has collaborated with Una Voce America to host workshops for clergy in Denton, Neb. Una Voce America, which promotes the celebration of the Tridentine Mass, usually teaches the rite to 12 students a session. But in September, it increased that number to 22 to meet the increased demand for training.

Many priests think the changes approved by the pope will do more than bring young people into the church. They think the celebration of the Tridentine Mass will increase the faith of many followers.

The Rev. Paul Scalia, 37, has been celebrating the Tridentine Mass at St. Rita Church in Alexandria. He said the increase in young attendance is evidence that the Mass is something living and life-giving.

"The beauty is tremendous, as it draws us to God, who is beauty Himself," Father Scalia said.

Robin Gorton BSP – Oklahoma


Our Lady of Mercy
Our Lady of Mercy
detail of a large Polyptych painted by Piero della Francesca (1416-1492) in 1462
located in Sansepolcro, near Florence, Italy


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