THE PROFESSION OF LISA DRAGO TO MONSIGNOR CALLAGHAN AT THE RETREAT
What an amazing journey this has been! I found the Brothers and Sisters of Penance of St. Francis on the internet in the Spring of 2004 while researching Third Orders in the Church. At that time, I was beginning to feel a very strong call -- perhaps to religious life -- deep within my heart. Somehow, I wanted to do MORE for the Lord, to strive for holiness; and I was searching for a path or a place or a Rule of Life to show me the way.
After reading the Rule of 1221, I felt immediately drawn to this way of life, especially the statutes concerning clothing, prayer and abstinence. I entered formation and found the lessons to be very inspiring, yet challenging. Perfect for me! Since I was so hungry to learn more about our Catholic faith, the Catechism lessons were particularly helpful to me. I also resonated deeply with the writings by and about St. Francis.
During my first two years of formation, I researched and visited various Third Order groups to experience their similarities and differences. Recently, I spent over seven months living in a hermitage. All of this was helpful for my discernment. I wanted to be sure that I was in the right place.
Like any journey, there have been ups and downs, times when I was moving along quickly and easily, and other times when I felt stuck or confused. I learned to just keep trying, keep striving to put one foot in front of the other -- Keep running the race! Never quit, and especially, never turn back!
I knew that if I was doing my part, God would never abandon me. He has always been right beside me, gently -- and sometimes, due to my blinders, not so gently! -- showing me the way.
By the grace of God, I have completed four years of formation, but the REAL journey is only now beginning. My profession ceremony on July 27th marked the transition into this new stage of the race. I was so blessed to be able to make my profession at the retreat in the presence of my brothers and sisters who are all making this journey with me. Msgr. Callaghan gave a beautiful, moving homily, and the seminarian, Jonathan Kelly, did a lovely job leading the Litany of the Saints. During the profession, I could truly feel the support and love of everyone present! As I faced the altar, with my hands enfolded in the hands of Msgr. Callaghan, I spoke the profession formula with confidence, fully aware that I was speaking directly to Christ. This was exactly what I had been craving for over four years -- commitment! A true, strong commitment to God!
I was -- still am -- filled with an incredible, all-encompassing peace: The peace of God, which the world cannot give. I KNOW that I am doing God's will as a professed member of the BSP. I desire to love God and to do everything for His glory. I desire to be nothing but a humble instrument in God's hand, an instrument that He can use in any way that He pleases, especially for the salvation of souls. I desire to persevere in running this race, with all of my Brothers and Sisters. I desire to imitate our crucified Lord. With St. Francis, I gaze lovingly upon Him and pray, "My God and my All!"
Lisa Drago BSP
THE INDUCTION OF MICHELLE NOLEN
Another wonderful event during the retreat was the induction of Michelle Nolen BSP, into the Association by Monsignor Callaghan. Michelle lives near Scandia, Minnesota, and is a new member of Morning Star Chapter. Unfortunately the pictures of Michelle's induction did not turn out. However, she offered the following remarks regarding her profession in a private note to Bruce and Shelley.
"My induction was life shattering (the old) and life changing (putting on the new). Just as I committed to my husband before the Lord and His people, I too, committed to learning to practice the rule of 1221 before God and my brothers and sisters. It was not the same as simply completing my lessons on my own. This was a commitment I made to the Lord in the presence of others. I truly believe that the Lord was present at my induction and blessed my commitment to live my life for Him, following the rule of St. Francis - so as to discern my calling to live this way of life. And believe me, since that very moment, His grace has abounded in my life. Praise be to the One Lord!"
Michelle Valley Nolen
"And to whom much is given, much is expected."
BSP Members with Monsignor Callaghan at Retreat 2008
Left to right: Ted Welter BSP, Dorothy Winczewski BSP, Kathy Holbrook BSP, Paul Christiansen, Lisa Drago BSP, Deacon James Thorton, Rebecca Campbell BSP, Mary Kay Kennedy, Donna Beery SFO, Paul Beery BSP, Michelle Nolen BSP, Dolores Bichsel BSP, Seminarian Jonathan Kelly, Monsignor Aloysius Callaghan, Bruce Fahey BSP, Shelley Fahey BSP, Rebecca Maness BSP.
THE RETREAT MASTER – BRUCE FAHEY BSP
Footnote: Father Thomas Dubay was scheduled to do the retreat but cancelled three weeks before the retreat due to health issues. Keep him in prayer. Bruce got the job as retreat master by default when no other retreat masters were available. The Visitor of the BSP gave his approval for Bruce to speak. So, he spoke on leading a consecrated life for Christ. There were 28 people at the retreat from the BSP and the diocese. Bruce is willing to give these talks again anytime, anywhere. They were very well received.
THE RETREAT TALKS:
The talks are about leading a consecrated life for Christ as a lay person. Five talks were given on four subjects. Prayer, sacrifice, love, and work. Two talks were given on prayer. What is included in this newsletter is a brief summary of key points of these talks.
"Our prayers can conquer God." Origen
Then some of the scribes and Pharisees said to him, "Teacher, we wish to see a sign from you." MT 12:38
The Pharisees asked Jesus for a sign, but he did not give it. We are the sign that others need to see. We must be the light of the world. That light must shine before others.
The Gospel is our first rule of our way to live. We may have other Rules of life in our life, but none are as important as the Gospel.
The steps of having a good prayer life are first that you have to want it. If you don't want it then it will not happen. So many today don't care about prayer. Secondly, if you want it you need to make room for it in your life. If you don't do that it won't fit in your life. And, you need a place to pray and a time to pray. There are other important things that were discussed, but these were the top four.
Given that you are creating a prayer life then there is value to understanding the kinds of prayer. There are three basic kinds of prayer, and within each type of prayer there are several levels. The first kind of prayer is vocal prayer, or word prayer. We use our voice to pray and praise God. Examples abound, but include meal prayers, the rosary, and the Liturgy of the Hours. The second kind of prayer is mental prayer. Call it mind-prayer. It has lots of advantages over vocal prayer. The big one is you can pray mentally all the time; even when occupied with other things. Meditation is mental prayer too. Thinking-prayer. We ponder what we read or know or even want to know about God and the things and stories about God, as in the Scriptures. The last kind of prayer is contemplative prayer. It is the highest order of prayer, which most people know little of and most generally don't practice in this life as it takes the most time.
Since we all know about vocal and mental prayers we won't spend time talking about that here. Just realize that these prayers, and spiritual reading, are all ‘discursive' prayers as discussed by St. John of the Cross and St. Theresa of Avila. Discursive prayer is all that most people will say in their entire life, and that is fine. Most people will not pray contemplatively, yet that is what St. John of the Cross and St. Theresa of Avila were promoting in their works. All that is really important is that we pray. However, if we want to arrive at union with God in prayer we need to learn to pray contemplatively, and make it a practice.
Contemplative prayer is the simplest of prayer, and requires no special preparation or materials, and therefore is perhaps the most difficult and most seldom used type of prayer. Contemplation is the word-less, image-less, thought-less, silent love of God put into prayer. We go silently heart-to-heart with God. It is the prayer of Mary in the Gospel story of Martha and Mary. It is the ‘better part' described by our Lord, which Mary choose as she silently gazed at Jesus in love. It is prayer of the heart, and like God, it is silent and still within us. It is a prayer of unknowing.
There are stages to our prayer life. The purgative, the illuminative, and the unitive. They constitute a continuum of prayer that we all are on whether we like it or not.
The purgative stage is really the stage of conversion, whenever we convert, and a stage we re-enter to be purged of what is not right in our spirit at any stage of our life by the Lord. Hence, whatever the stage of prayer might be we are in we are always subject to re-entering the purgative stage to eliminate bad habits, faults, or failures, to grow in prayer, or increase our virtue.
The illuminative stage is the second level. In it we have converted and have developed, or are making good progress on developing, a prayer life and a positive relationship with God. We are not yet praying contemplatively, but we are moving towards deeper prayer. We love God, and we act accordingly. We are learning to live the Gospel more generously, and to love our neighbor more as our self. We are learning to put our self in last place in our human affairs.
The unitive stage of prayer is the highest stage of prayer. In it we are beginning to pray contemplatively, which will move us towards union with God, which is a high order of mystical prayer. We experience mystical prayer here even if we cannot identify it. In this stage rests the call to ministry, and we live more and more for God until serving Him becomes a beautiful obsession. We love God, and that love drives us to do more and more for Kingdom of God. Prayer is now at or near the center of our lives.
To know how to pray contemplatively imagine I will use an example you will understand. Imagine a loved one on a journey. Imagine you are sitting comfortably in your favorite place at home. You are at peace. You feel this love in your heart, and you send this love to your loved one who is distant from you. They don't feel it most likely, but you know you love them. Hopefully they do too.
Contemplation is like that, but in relation to God. You find a comfortable place, perhaps your favorite chair, as ‘brother ass', as St. Francis called his body, must be comfortable or it will complain and make the prayer impossible. Kneeling is more than likely out of the question to pray contemplatively for this reason.
You do your best to keep your mind quiet and imageless, and you send your love to God. You rest in that love and do nothing else. You do this for some time every day, ideally an hour a day or more; for the rest of your life. In this way you make contemplation a part of your prayer life. St.Theresa of Avila and St. John of the Cross prayed this way for two hours a day, in addition to the prayers of their Rules. Rules of life are only a guide remember. If you are living by a Rule of life, consider it your minimum. You do not stop your discursive prayers. You add a time of contemplative prayer to them.
| SECOND TALK: CONTEMPLATION AND MYSTICAL PRAYER|
The Imitation of Christ says:
"His glory and beauty are within you, and he delights in dwelling there."
Remember how to pray contemplatively. As you learn to pray contemplatively mystical prayer becomes open to you. You cannot control it or make it happen however, so any experience of it that you bring on yourself is not mystical prayer. Mystical prayer is always a gift from God.
It is impossible to describe mystical prayer adequately, but I will try to do the impossible. Once you experience mystical prayer you will need no explanations. One experience is worth a million words, and you will never forget it.
I have prayed an hour of mystical prayer a day for at least the last fifteen years. Perhaps I missed 30 days in 15 years due to travel or whatever. I chose to pray an hour a day as St. Theresa said that anyone who would do that would experience mystical prayer. She was right, but I will primarily quote St. John of the Cross and St. Theresa of Avila, and other Saints, in defining the levels of mystical prayer. There are seven levels of prayer according to them. Five of these are mystical and are generally most generously experienced only in contemplative prayer.
Mystical prayer can happen during adoration in an adoration chapel, if we don't spend our time doing other things there, like reading, journaling, or thinking. Most people read, journal, ponder, or pray mentally at adoration, so most people probably don't experience much of mystical prayer at adoration. If you want to experience mystical prayer at adoration then don't do these things. Sit, like Mary, Lazarus' sister, and look at Jesus with love, with your heart. Then mystical prayer might happen. The problem is that adoration lasts an hour, and we do it once a week or once a month usually, and so that is not enough time. However, adoration is adoration, and it is good and holy, so I am not pouring cold water on the value of adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. It is invaluable, and good.
These are the seven levels of prayer that St. Theresa defines. Her seven mansions so to speak. The last five are mystical. They are:
1. Vocal prayer.
2. Mental prayer (including meditation)
3. Infused recollection
4. The prayer of quiet
6. Ecstasy or flight of soul
7. The spiritual marriage
(I will not attempt to describe these levels of prayer any further in this newsletter as I cannot do them justice here due to space considerations primarily. Most of this talk at the retreat was on defining these prayers as best I could. Doing the impossible. They were well received. )
This scripture describes advanced mystical prayer. Just keep that in mind whenever you read it.
"What eye has not seen, and ear has not heard, and what has not entered the human heart, what God has prepared for those who love him," (1COR 2:9)
During the early stages of contemplation the biggest problem you will have will be your imagination. It will go wild. St. Theresa describes the imagination as a wild stallion! So, that about says it perfectly. When you first begin to pray contemplatively you have to endure your imagination in spades! Perhaps for a month or more. Then one day mystical prayer will dawn on you and it will be significantly less of a problem. However, that said, you imagination might become active again at any time. You just must endure this ‘dryness' as part of your prayer. Do not give up your contemplative prayer because of it!
People who have not experienced mystical prayer have no clue what it is like. You cannot even describe it adequately when you have experienced it. So these people will think you are ‘nuts', and minimize what you say. So, why bother? It usually isn't worth it. You cannot comprehend it with your mind. It is a spiritual reality and can only be described in spiritual terms and then by the ‘spiritually mature' as St. Paul refers to them.
All mystical prayer is at God's discretion. If you can bring it on yourself during contemplative prayer it is not from God. It is about that simple.
There are some things that are essential to your experiencing mystical prayer. First off, God must want to give it to you. There are some things you can do to influence His decision. First off, you must live your Christian commitment to perfection. You must make the Scripture of our Association, a definite part of your life.
"Deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow me." (Lk 9:23)
You must die to yourself and live for others. It is not easy to do this. All of the great Saints did that. Many fasted to extreme; suffered to extreme and usually from sources outside themselves unless the Lord imposed involuntary suffering on them by way of ailments or other crosses. One thing that is essential to attaining to mystical prayer is that virtue abides in your life, and you are living a life of sacrifice; voluntary or involuntary, for the Lord.
The next talk is on sacrifice and the spiritual life.
| THIRD TALK: SERVING GOD: LEADING A LIFE OF SACRIFICE|
To grow in prayer you will need to go through several dark nights: of the senses, the faculties, and of the spirit. These are purifying experiences given by God. They are different for all of us but we all must go through them. You will endure them here, voluntarily or involuntarily, or you will go through them in purgatory.
To grow in virtue you may need to experience situations where the virtue was not exhibited in your own regard, or you did not exhibit it as you should have and therefore experienced trauma in your own regard for not exhibiting the virtue. You may be the instrument that God uses to purify others through this process also.
To overcome your senses you must diminish and deny the senses. You can do this through fasting, or abstinence, or self denial of sensual things that relate to temperature, or taste, or general comfort. Or, God may give you health problems, like diabetes, or back pain, or arthritis, to help you overcome your general sense of health and well being and factually suffer in your body.
The dark nights of the spirit are the worst, and have to do with primarily two things. Prayer, and our emotions, which are very spiritual.
The dark night of the spirit as relates to prayer is overcome by practicing contemplative prayer. The motion of the soul from discursive prayer to contemplation ends the dark night of the spirit as it relates to prayer. This is so because contemplation easily embraces discursive prayer and understands it. Discursive prayer does not understand or support contemplation. Hence, people who pray discursively have no desire to pray contemplatively, and no idea what mystical prayer is like.
The dark night of the spirit as relates to the faculties or emotions is different. We may have to go through difficulties and problems with regard to situations that strike our emotions and make them problems for us. For instance, we might have to be betrayed by a friend, or abandoned by family or a colleague, to strike our joy in friendship and love. We might become physically and emotionally depressed. We all have to experience the darkness of death. Of ourselves or a loved one. In these things God purifies us of our attachment to this life. The attachment of relationships. We might need to experience financial difficulties, or bankruptcy, to break our ties to money. The loss is highly spiritual but also quite practical, from God's standpoint, as we cannot love money and serve God.
So, these dark nights are real for all of us, and a real form of suffering. We might impose them on ourselves, usually involuntarily I will add, or God will impose them on us. Better that God do it, but the effect is the same. We break our attachments by acquiring wisdom, or experience. But the effect is the same; if we are smart we learn more and more to value God and the ways of God and abandon the ways of the world.
Chittle will help us to abandon the world around us in real ways. That is, learning to do numerous and perpetual little things to deny ourselves the enjoyable things in our life. The poem ‘Chittle' is on our web page. It is a simple way to do voluntary penance on an ongoing basis. The poem was written by Brother Not SFO. Bruce Fahey is Brother Not. He took the pen name, Brother Not (and Shelley the name Sister Not) many years ago while still in the Secular Franciscan Order when he wanted to write poetry to capture the elements necessary for mystical prayer and the life of penance. The poetry is didactic in nature, but was never published. The pen name came from the Dialogue by St. Catherine of Siena wherein God the Father told her: "You are she who is not…"
St. John of the Cross said: "We must continually get rid of our ‘wants' rather than indulge them…the soul will not be transformed in God even if it has one imperfection."
He also said that the natural appetites were not a problem, meaning we must eat, drink, and breath to live. We can subdue these appetites through fasting and abstinence, but never eliminate them entirely. Therefore, most Rules of life by most Orders, including private penitential Associations like the BSP, BSC, or CFP are quite literally inadequate to prepare one to receive mystical prayer. We must go beyond our Rule, if we live by such a Rule.
And everyone lives by a Rule of life. Either one of their own making, or one they have taken from someone else. We do best to live a Rule given us by a Saint, or the best Rule of all is the Gospel, which we must live generously to attain to mystical prayer.
So, we have to keep our hearts pure, and right, and contrite, before God. We have to hate sin and love justice and good, and act accordingly. We have to take up our cross by living a life of sacrifice and suffering for others. We have to follow Jesus and live as He lived and die as he died, for others.
As St. Ignatius of Antioch said in the Office of Readings recently:
"Unless we are ready, through His Power, to die in the likeness of his passion, his life is not in us."
We must live lives of prayer and sacrifice to love as Jesus loved. The next talk is on love.
Long ago in Catholic grade school we were taught that the purpose of life was to know, to love, and to serve God in this world and be happy with Him forever in heaven. So many people have no purpose to their life. They don't understand why we are here and what our main objective is. This little lesson from the Felician sisters I have never forgotten.
To know God you must pray. If you do not pray you will probably end up in hell. If you pray, and I mean pray generously, and live your faith generously, Jesus has promised to reveal Himself to you. When He reveals Himself to you then you will know him for sure!
"Whoever has my commandments and observes them is the one who loves me. And whoever loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and reveal myself to him." (JN 14:21)
To pray well you must unite it to sacrifice. It takes sacrifice just to make time for a good prayer life in our busy lives. Sacrifice is the air that love breaths.
How do you know if you love Jesus? He said: "If you love me, you will keep my commandments." (JN 14:15)
Marital love is the greatest of earthly loves among human beings. In it husbands and wives grow in their love for each other and learn how to sacrifice to build this love. No one, not your best friend, can be allowed to come between a husband and his wife in their love for each other. It cannot be! Husband and wife are one in their mission. Life flows from their love, and it teaches them discipline too. The discipline of fidelity and trust.
Further, it is the sign of Christ and His Bride, the Church. He and His Church are one. The life of the Church flows from this love.
Unequivocally, the greatest motion of love in my life is Shelley, and I thank her for her love and wonderful fidelity and trust, and the great joy we enjoy together in our love.
The good news is that married men are allowed two women in their life! Their wife and the Mother of God! Women, two men, their husband and Jesus. (Lots of laughter on this line. ? ) No more than these two though! The world, and sometimes our friends, just don't get it!
Single people are free to love others more openly and easily. Free to do ministry. Free to move in the world everywhere with everyone in love. They can offer their continence or virginity to God as a fragrant offering, and marry Christ in the purest and holiest of relationships, if they choose.
Now to begin with, if you love someone, you want to spend time with them. This I know. I cannot spend enough time with Shelley, and that is wonderful in our retirement. Some women would rather not see their husband that much! Smile… We, Shelley and I, cannot see each other too much. So, I admit, I am a lucky man! So, if you want a loving relationship with God you need to spend time with God. Keep that in mind. But, there is much more.
Fr. George Maloney, in his book, "Why not become totally fire?" says: "You and I have been created to be participators in God's very own nature. (2PET 1:4) If God is fire, we are sparks from the flame of His Love for us." And, St. John says: "God is love..." (1 JN 4:16)
"The way we came to understand love was that he laid down his life for us; we too must lay down our lives for our brothers."
So we must lay down our life too, for others. In that we become like Jesus. Our first concern then is to love God, and to grow in that love and by way of that love, and God's grace and not on our own merit, to find the perfect love of our neighbor. Without God we cannot love as we should.
The world is always concerned about how we can take care of ourselves. Look out for number one! We need to be concerned on how we take care of and respond to others.
The most common Scripture taken for marriage ceremonies is:
"Love is patient; love is kind. Love is not jealous, it does not put on airs, it is not snobbish. Love is never rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not prone to anger; neither does it brood over injuries. Love does not rejoice in what is wrong but rejoices in the truth. There is no limit to love's forbearance, to its trust, its hope, its power to endure." (1 Cor. 13: 4-7)
Love will always apologize where the apology helps solve the problem. If you are not willing to apologize to solve a problem you don't know how to love, for love is always willing to be kind, forgiving, helpful, understanding and patient. It does not put on airs. It never pretends to be better than others. It will always take, or make, an offer for peace. It is not selfish. If you lack virtue it is probably because you lack love. If you want to regret something; regret your lack of love and hardness of heart and don't expect from others what you are not willing to give yourself.
That brings us to the subject of our work, and works, in the world.
"Here is my servant whom I have chosen,
My loved one in whom I delight.
I will endow him with my Spirit
And he will proclaim justice to the Gentiles.
He will not contend or cry out,
Nor will his voice be heard in the streets.
The bruised reed he will not break;
The smoldering wick he will not quench
Until judgment is made victorious.
In his name the Gentiles will find hope." (Isa 42:1-4)
This Scripture explains how we are to work in the world. In a word, we should never be contentious! We don't have all the answers for others.
Those in the time of Jesus said of Him:
"Is he not the carpenter, the son of Mary, and the brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?" And they took offense at him." (MK 6:3)
First we see Him as a boy, and he says: "I must be about my Father's business." (LK 2:49) Then He was a carpenter, and only later we see Him begin His public life as our Savior. Our own lives will be like that. We are born and grow up. We make the difficult decisions about what we will be in the world. We take a vocation, and that is our primary work. We raise our families, and if we live our faith and grow in a life of prayer and sacrifice God gives us things to do for the Kingdom. The bottom line is; we must work.
St. Paul says:
"…when we were with you, we instructed you that if anyone was unwilling to work, neither should that one eat. Such people we instruct and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to work quietly and to eat their own food." (2 Thes. 3:10-12)
So, work is necessary, holy, and good. It should be done peacefully, without contention, and quietly, and so as to build the Kingdom of God on earth when we are called to do that, and we all are in one way or the other. And, we are measured against it too!
St. James says:
"Indeed someone might say, "You have faith and I have works." Demonstrate your faith to me without works, and I will demonstrate my faith to you from my works." (JMS 2:18)
So, there is ‘work', and there are ‘works', the things we do because of our faith. The rest of this talk will focus on works as our work in the world is all different. As consecrated lay people we need to show forth the Kingdom of God on earth through our works. We have so very much to do! And, we all have talents.
"God, our Father, work is your gift to us, a call to reach new heights by using our talents for the good of all. (Monday, Week IV, Daytime Prayer)
The Father gives us the gift of work, and gift it is. He gives us the ability to work, and the talents, and tools, we need to work, and we know what the Lord said about talents.
"To one he gave five talents; to another, two; to a third, one – to each according to his ability. Then he went away…(Matt. 25:15)
You know what happened then. He waited to see what they would do with them and then he came back to judge them on how they used their talents. We are those people! We will be judged on how we use our talents in our work and works. The big question we should all have is, what does God want of me?
To answer this question look around you where you stand. As they say in the Franciscan Orders ‘bloom where you are planted." Take St. John of the Cross as an example:
"We find him in the choir, the confessional, the kitchen, weeding the garden, decorating the altars, making architectural plans, joining in construction work, visiting the sick, and of course, writing. Was it his way of protesting that the servant of God should not undertake manual labor, common in the middle ages? He would take the friars out to the mountains, just for relaxation. John knew that loving confidence in Providence was the appropriate response to life's worries and anxieties. His habit of seeing the hand of God in all things contributed…to an air of peace and calm.(which surrounded him)"
We are all called to run a marathon to heaven. Everyone who runs finishes; at their own pace.
Primarily we need to grow in our spirits. We need a prayer life. We need a life of sacrifice. We need to love. I could stop here. This is enough. To pray to sacrifice ourselves for others, and to love. "To anyone who has, more will be given and he will grow rich; from anyone who has not, even what he has will be taken away." (MT 13:12) The sixth mansion of St. Theresa, which is well into the Unitive stage of the spiritual life, is all about work; ministry. It comes after we have a life of prayer and sacrifice working well in our lives; not before. Study the lives of the Saints until you are blue in the face and you will not become a saint. Internalize and act on their messages and you might. Make their message fit your life and work.
I would like to close these talks as I began them. First, you can lead a consecrated life for Christ if you want to. Second, that you should want to. Third, that you already are if you are living your Faith. Fourth, if you want to know what this life looks like read what St. Paul says in Galatians:
"…the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control" (GAL 5:22-23)
God is good, all the time.
Monsignor Callaghan homily at Sunday Mass, summarized by Paul Beery BSP:
Monsignor began by saying that Archbishop Neinstedt was unable to come to the retreat and celebrate Mass because he was just returning from World Youth Day, so "His loss is my gain."
You've been praying many hours. Now bring your prayers before the Lord and ask Him to make them His own. He does. Then we receive the Lord Himself, coming to be ONE WITH US in a way we can never imagine. The Apostles knew the Risen Jesus, and saw Him ascend into heaven. He promised the Holy Spirit would come upon them. In the Upper Room they prayed and waited as never before. They knew Jesus their Savior had restored mankind, for they had seen the Glorified Lord. And they knew the Holy Spirit would be with them forever. So they prayed and waited in great faith.
Then one day the Fire came down upon them. They went out and built up the Church, using the gifts the Holy Spirit gave them. Their task was to help people see Jesus just as they had seen Him. "Enkindle in US the Fire of Your Love, and You shall renew the face of the earth."
OUR RULE will help people see the Face of Jesus just as the Apostles and our Blessed Mother did. Jesus puts everything in our hands. He gives us all the help we need to do it through the gifts of the Holy Spirit we received at Confirmation: wisdom, piety and fear of the Lord. Now we can put into action the work which Jesus wishes us to do. Pray that the gifts of the Holy Spirit TAKE HOLD of us to help people see Jesus through our prayers and sacrifices on their behalf.
Solomon prayed: "Give your servant an Understanding Heart, to know right from wrong." We have received the SAME GIFT at confirmation.
We must be MILITANT in the way we show the Face of Jesus to the world. How? Become SIMPLE PEOPLE TOTALLY IN LOVE WITH GOD. We have the example of Pope John Paul II, who showed the love of God to the world: "Totus Tuus." And we have witnessed the life of Mother Teresa, that powerhouse of love in whom was so much strength. They did it through the strength they received from the Holy Spirit in confirmation, united in prayer with Jesus Christ. All for Jesus through Mary.
We are ALL CALLED. We have the same gifts. We need to say YES, and remain faithful. There is nothing more exalted and magnificent than this CALL TO HOLINESS. Concentrate on the things of God, with openness of heart, and understanding. Be devoted to St. Francis, who conquered the world by his love, he who saw the beauty of God in all of creation. Preach the message daily, and if necessary use words. Francis said to the almond tree: "Speak to me of God." And the almond tree blossomed. People will say today: "Speak to me of God," and we can blossom as witnesses to Jesus Christ as the Light of the world. You and I can grow strong in the Love of Jesus – live only for Jesus and His Love – what a wonderful gift that will be.
The Lord shows us that love is stronger than death. Help us Lord to bring Your Light to the world. Help us say YES to love and rise with You, bringing Your Light to our brothers and sisters. All those who have consecrated their life to Jesus work together for the good of the Church. So continue to "WALK IN THAT LIGHT!"
THE ADMONITIONS OF ST. FRANCIS
XX. The virtuous and humble religious
Blessed the religious who has no more regard for himself when people praise him and make much of him than when they despise and revile him and say that he is ignorant. What a man is before God, that he is and no more. Woe to that religious who, after he has been put in a position of authority by others, is not anxious to leave it of his own free will. On the other hand, blessed is that religious who is elected to office against his will, but always wants to be subject to others.
painted by Leonardo da Vinci in 1475
now in the Galleria degli Uffizi, florence, Italy
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!
"...by one offering he has made perfect forever those who are being consecrated."