ON ST. FRANCIS…
Creatures obey St. Francis
God's condescension towards him.
St. Francis was seriously ill one time at the hermitage of Sant' Urbano and he felt the need of something to build up his strength. He asked for a glass of wine, but they told him there was none to give him.
Then, he told them to bring his some water, and when it was brought he made the sign of the cross over it and blessed it.
Immediately what had been ordinary water became excellent wine: Francis' holiness procured what the poverty of a lonely friary had not been able to provide.
At the taste of the wine he improved rapidly, and it was clear beyond all doubt that God, the generous Giver, had enabled him to enjoy the drink he longed for, not because the taste appealed to him, but because it would restore him to health.
Another time, while traveling to a hermitage where he planned to devote himself to prayer, St. Francis rode as ass belonging to a poor laborer, because he was weak.
It was summertime and, as the owner of the animal followed the saint into the mountains, he was exhausted by the long and grueling journey. Fainting with thirst, he began to cry out insistently, saying that he would die immediately, if he did not get something to drink.
Francis dismounted there and then and knelt on the ground with his hands stretched out to heaven, and there he prayed until he knew he had been heard. When he had finished he said to his benefactor, "Go to that rock and there you will find running water. In his goodness Christ has made it flow from the solid stone just now for you to drink."
The man ran to the spot Francis had pointed out and he had his fill of water which had been produced from a rock by the power of on man's prayer, a drink which God offered him from solid stone.
When St. Francis was preaching on the seashore at Gaeta on one occasion, the multitude crowded about him in their eagerness. He was anxious to avoid their demonstration of enthusiasm and he stepped into a small boat which we close to shore. While the crowd looked in amazement the boat moved out from the land without the aid of oars, as if it were guided by some intelligent power.
When it had gone a short distance out to the sea the boat stopped and remained there in the same position despite the waves, while the preached to the people remaining on the beach.
When he was finished, he gave his blessing to the crowd who had seen the miracle, and pleaded with them to disperse. Then the boat moved in to land once more under the influence of a divine command.
Creation, which obeys its Author so well, was completely submissive to Francis who worshipped the Creator perfectly, and obeyed Him without hesitation.
Bonaventure—Minor Life 1263
ON THE TRIUMPH OF THE CROSS
September 14 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier
Reading I (Numbers 21:4b-9) Reading II (Philippians 2:6-11)
Gospel (St. John 3:13-17)
Today, as we celebrate this feast of the Triumph of the Cross, Our Lord reminds us that the very purpose for which He came into the world was to save the world. And there is only one means by which the world is going to be saved: that is, the Cross of Jesus Christ. The Cross stands as the center point of all world history.
When we consider the Cross, Saint Paul reminds us that we are to glory in nothing but the Cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ; that must be our boast. "For the world," Saint Paul tells us, "that is folly." It seems foolishness to the world. "It is a stumbling block to the Jews and it is folly to the Greeks," he said, "but for those who are being saved, the Cross is the wisdom and the power of God."
For us, who believe in Our Lord, we look at that Cross. We consider what Saint Paul tells us: "He was obedient even unto death, death on a cross." It is that obedience of Our Lord and His willingness to go to the Cross for us that we celebrate in a particular way. What looks like the most humiliating thing and the most foolish thing is, in fact, the most glorious thing in human history. As Saint Paul says, "God's folly is wiser than human wisdom." On the natural level, it does not make sense. It is what Saint Paul, then, would call the "Scandal of the Cross."
That is the part that requires faith. If God came down in glory and He was glowing in the dark and did wonderful things, everybody could say, "Oh, that is God!" But when we look at God and we see that He died on the Cross, it requires great faith to be able to look at that and say, "Yes, I believe." Externally, there is nothing obvious; externally, all that is there is weakness and foolishness, from a worldly point of view. But for one with the eyes of faith and a heart filled with love, the Cross is the glory of Almighty God.
The Cross is the love of God for us. For us who believe, we need to be able to say that we, too, with Our Lord, are willing to take up the Cross; that we are willing to be hung on that Cross with Him, to suffer with Him in order to be raised with Him. So, for us, the Cross truly is the wisdom of God. And for those who are saved, they understand that the Cross is the power of God because it is only by the wounds of Our Lord, inflicted on the Cross, that we have salvation. It truly is the wisdom and the power of God at work in those who believe and the only means of salvation.
So for us, with Saint Paul, then, the Cross is not a point of shame, but it is a point of joy. It is recognized as truly the only means of salvation; the means by which Our Lord did not condemn the world, but stood condemned so that the world could be saved. And for us, the Cross, then, must be a means of glory, a means of hope, and a means of joy because it is the only means of salvation.
Note: Father Altier does not write his homilies in advance, but relies solely upon the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. This text was transcribed from the audio recording with minimal editing.
FROM THE VISITOR
We met with Father Altier, Visitor to the BSP, on August 27th as we had said we were
going to do. The purpose of the meeting was to review several questions that have come
up recently on the forums or in letters from members. It was a very productive meeting,
as usual. He is a very good priest and very supportive of the mission of the BSP. If you
have any questions after reading these feel free to contact us for further clarification.
The issues and questions that were resolved or answered are as follows, condensed for this summary:
1. Do we need to vote? Is it a sin not to vote?
No. It is not sin to decide not to vote. The Church considers it our duty to vote if there is a candidate we can support.
2. If we vote for some one who is pro-abortion is it a sin?
Yes, it is a serious sin to vote for someone who is known to support abortion. Abortion is the greatest evil of this age. Nothing trumps it. You cannot vote for anyone who supports something that is intrinsically evil. War and the death penalty are two examples of things that are not good of themselves but may be necessary for the common good, and therefore are not intrinsically evil. If you don't know who to vote for just write in "Jesus Christ", or someone else of your choosing.
3. The support of Archbishop Harry J. Flynn remains as our greatest intrinsic endorsement within the Church although he recently retired. We now have the blessing of our new Archbishop, John Nienstedt, to live the life of the Rule of 1221, the BSP Rule, to gather in support of it, and to promote it gently in the Church, which permission we received in 1996 from Archbishop Flynn. This permission extends to all BSP members or affiliates throughout the world.
4. If you go on a pilgrimage the cost of the pilgrimage is not a ‘tithe' by definition.
5. We have had requests for a BSP emblem or pin. Father Altier said that the cross is our greatest emblem, as is true for all religious families in the Church. Since this is the case the cross remains our sign and, as with habits, members may select an emblem or pin to represent their BSP commitment if they wish to wear one. The BSP is encouraged not to adopt a formal sign or emblem other than the cross, as it is unnecessary, and violates the simplicity of the Rule and calls attention to ourselves. We are to live our lives of penance invisibly.
6. Father Altier cannot do our retreat next year due to his current assignment in the diocese which demands his constant presence and attention.
7. We should not discuss political candidates, pro or con, in the BSP, but we can debate current political issues.
8. Read a portion of our Rule each day if you don't have a different approach to studying it. Since we say we want to live by it we do need to know it.
9. If the Church comes out with a new way of saying the LOH we can adopt it without permission. For instance, if the Church comes out with one "hour", to replace the current three ‘little hours' of daytime prayer we can adopt it without permission.
10. We are encouraged to pray for the souls in Purgatory, but there remains no guarantee that we, or they, will ‘get out of Purgatory free' because we do that. It is up to the Lord to decide.
11. The Rule says, in Article 18: "They are not to take oaths in ordinary conversation." This should be interpreted to mean any kind of an oath, not just one using God's name. Hence terms like "I swear…" or "As God is my judge…" should be avoided.
Praised be God forever!
Bruce and Shelley Fahey BSP
Administrators of the BSP
From the Second Reading 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time
by Janet Klasson BSP
"Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory; rather, humbly regard others as more important than yourselves, each looking out not for his own interests, but (also) everyone for those of others."
We do not have to search very far these days to find disturbing news. Indeed we need not search at all. It seems to be all around us. In spite of that, Christians are called to be people of hope. This is a great challenge in these times, but it is a challenge we must not fail to take up.
In the quoted Scripture passage, St. Paul gives us a sure remedy for the ills of the world. Unfortunately there are too few who listen to voices that speak of truth and life. There are far more voices today who speak against truth and life. The odds are stacked heavily against those willing to speak and to work for the Kingdom. It is tempting to furl our sails and find a quiet corner to ride out the storm.
But this is precisely the time when we need to be out on the water, visible and unfaltering. The enemy would love to see us crawl into a cove and hide. But whatever it costs us, people need to know that we are not ashamed of the Rock to which we are anchored.
That is not to say that we need to preach openly or be confrontational, unless God has specifically called us to witness in this way. More often we are called to be quiet witnesses. We wear a cross around our necks. We pray in restaurants. We have a rosary hanging on the rear-view mirror. It may not seem like much, but this serves an important purpose. People remember these things, all the more when they are rare and "out of fashion".
A few weeks ago I was discussing with my spiritual director the observation that my place of employment was very secular. In fact I am sharing my cubicle with a sweet young lady who happens to be an atheist. To my surprise, my SD replied, "You are richly blessed!" He quoted a saint who said that we witness by being present to others, by being in solidarity with them, and by understanding them. This is well worth pondering, and a reason for great hope.
Our Lady speaks of a coming Illumination, a time when people will see their souls as God sees them. If we read the signs of the times, it is reasonable to believe that this may not be far off. As a matter of fact, I know personally of two instances where it has happened already. A preview before the main event? There is no doubt in my mind.
All the more reason that people have the knowledge of where they may turn when they have a change of heart, no matter how that comes about. By being visible and approachable we leave the door open to people who may want to come home. We join the father of the prodigal in scanning the horizon for his lost child. Our light is placed on a lamp stand, to be easily spotted by those looking for it.
Theodoret of Cyr, a bishop of the fifth century and one of the Church Fathers wrote:
When a shepherd sees that his sheep have scattered, he keeps one of them under his control and leads it to the pastures he chooses, and thus he draws the other sheep back to him by means of this one. And so it was when God the Word saw that the human race had gone astray: he took the form of a slave and united it to himself, and by means of it won over the whole race of men to him, enticing the sheep that were grazing in bad pastures and exposed to wolves, and leading them to the pastures of God.
Through the Eucharist and in our life of penance, we are united in a special way to the "one sheep" that the shepherd kept under his control to entice the others back. For that reason, we are called not only to be fishers of men, but in Christ we are also the bait. In that case we need to be visible; our hope must attract. Then we will be working for the kingdom, each looking out not for his own interests, but (also) everyone for those of others. We are called to help the lost sheep find their way home, that His Kingdom may come and come quickly!
Janet Klasson BSP - Canada
NO GREATER LOVE: by PAUL BEERY BSP - September 2008
"Do not conform yourselves to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, so that you may know what is good, pleasing and perfect." (Romans 12)
Every election year about this time my heart begins thumping loudly, seeing partisan debate heating up. Debate is good. The future of the nation is at stake after all, and we have two very different visions placed before us. But the debate has become hysterical, and critical thinking has given way to a purely emotional attachment to some cause, individual, or political party. We see the results of a secular liberal worldview all around us, emphasizing issues of little importance in what was once a God-centered world. One could speak of the Big Lie fostered by the Evil One. But there are so many of them today that one can scarcely count them, nor come to enumerate the "Top Ten Lies" of the day.
What got me going was a bumper sticker: "The road to hell is paved with Republicans." Since that party is the certifiable Pro-Life party, one wonders how to interpret such a statement. Obviously membership in any political party does not guarantee eternal life, as each one is made up of various factions, all composed of sinners in need of redemption. It seems to me much more likely that the road to hell would be paved with those who support the CULTURE OF DEATH, rather than the Gospel of Life. Many in the Pro-Life party are opposed to Christian morality, which is the theme of this article. Where they go only God knows. The least one can say about that particular bumper sticker is that it is judgmental, currently a serious PC sin.
But it got me thinking: where can the people of God do the most good in this political season? Generally speaking, people of faith are told not to discuss politics. That's usually said by those of little or no faith who want to cripple or eliminate the competition, making it easier for them to bring "change." Our Christian heritage here in America is as much under assault as was Europe's when the totally SECULARIZED European Union was formed. Europe ignominiously lost that battle. We cannot afford to lose this one. Rules for Radicals are being implemented, and we better recognize how the plan works. "Fan the embers of hopelessness, so people will accept ANY CHANGE." Sounds like the modus operandi of one of our major political parties…
Jesus said hardly a word about politics. "Give to Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's." At least we know we must fulfill our responsibilities as citizens and do our civic duty. That includes witnessing to our faith, and trying to elevate moral and ethical standards above the lowest common denominator, to which depth fallen human nature is constantly drawn. When discerning the great moral issues of the day, how can we not advance our own beliefs?
Some say that the war in Iraq is the greatest moral issue of the day. I have a very simple test, the bumper sticker test. Will doing (or more rarely not doing) a certain thing separate me from the love of God, potentially for all eternity? That issue fails the test. There are Saints on BOTH sides of the war in Iraq (and on how freedom-loving nations can defend themselves against hate-filled terrorists who will drop a bomb on your head IF THEY HAD ONE). To me, that makes it a political issue, for God cares not a whit whether one is for or against this particular war - but whether one is for or against HIM, whether one is KEEPING HIS COMMANDMENTS. There's a moral issue that DEMANDS OUR ALLEGIANCE, one that will transform our minds and hearts.
Another is the LIFE issue. The fight for LIFE itself is truly the greatest, the SINGULAR MORAL ISSUE of our day, as outlined so brilliantly by Pope John Paul II in "The Gospel of Life." Only ONE of our two major political parties is Pro-Life. The other avidly promotes the Culture of Death in all its many dimensions: abortion, euthanasia, embryonic stem-cell research, cloning, and same-sex marriage, all of which work together to cause the death of the traditional family as the basic unit of society. Also confer "Humanae Vitae" on the contraceptive mentality.
The Pro-Life Movement makes many enemies, for it is inimical to the ways of the world and the desires of the flesh. There is rage and anger on the part of those who desperately want to see their pet sins justified by society to assuage a guilty conscience, yet are confronted by the disciples of Jesus Christ who keep repeating after Him: THOU SHALT NOT do what you want if you seek eternal life. Stop worshipping the god of sex and discover the God of Agape Love.
What is the fallout of a major political party being fervently Pro-Abortion? Catholic leaders have said that one can be a "Good (member of the Pro-Abort Party) AND a good Catholic." I would like someone to explain to me how that is possible. In the November, 2007, US Bishop's document "Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship," is found the following statement: "A Catholic CANNOT VOTE IN FAVOR OF AN INTRINSIC EVIL, SUCH AS ABORTION OR RACISM, if the voter's intent is to support that position." A Catholic cannot vote for an intrinsic evil, that's plain enough. But how did the word ‘racism' get into this document, to muddy the waters?
If racism is MORALLY EQUIVALENT to abortion, the following question needs to be asked. What if a candidate of the KKK Party espoused overt racism as part of his party's platform? Imagine the reaction. Religious leaders would be unanimous in their condemnation of that candidate and his party, including a PROHIBITION ON THE PART OF THE FAITHFUL from either VOTING FOR THAT CANDIDATE, or SUPPORTING A RACIST POLITICAL PARTY! That being the case, then why is there not a SIMILAR CONDEMNATION OF A PRO-ABORT POLITICAL PARTY? Is it because it used to be the "Catholic" party, and many Catholics still stubbornly cling to its TRADITIONS, even though the present day version BEARS LITTLE OR NO RESEMBLANCE to its predecessor?
In the twisted Pro-Abort world, racism is WORSE than abortion. In the trial of a famous football player, use of a racist term by a policeman was a WORSE CRIME than a double murder! That's how sick the world is today. But that's what passes for the "new" morality, which is little more than a political calculation, not a response to one's faith in God. So they are forced to make the case that discrimination against another person is WORSE than taking a person's life. Wow.
But there is a certain logic to this position. Just don't consider the unborn as "persons." What are they? They are very viable tissue masses; else they wouldn't have to be forcibly removed. And so we have a candidate running for president of the United States who apparently doesn't consider a viable tissue mass a human being EVEN AFTER IT IS BORN, IF IT HAD THE GALL TO BE BORN ALIVE AFTER A BOTCHED ABORTION. Now it's INFANTICIDE. This is such an extreme position that almost no one joined him in attempting to block the Born Alive Infants' Protection Act. Even the usual Pro-Aborts said, "We're not touching this one." But the man who would be president realized that by recognizing the unborn as "persons," abortion can no longer be defended by ANY moral or ethical standard, much less that of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Enter the "ardent, practicing Catholic" Speaker of the House of Representatives to clarify the issue. She said that even such notables as St. Augustine didn't know when human life began. After all, the theory that life begins at conception has only been around for the last fifty years. "The point is, is that it (when human life begins) shouldn't have an impact on a woman's right to choose." If this is what an "ardent, practicing Catholic" thinks, I'd hate to see what a "mediocre Catholic" believes. No, Ms. Pelosi, the REAL point is that the Church has NEVER CONDONED ABORTION, even amidst theological speculation over "quickening." It's hard to imagine a Christian mother with so little respect for innocent, vulnerable human life.
What is a faithful Catholic/Christian to do? When one belongs to an organization, he or she supports the goals and principles of that organization. Some say they intend to CHANGE the Culture of Death of a political party into the Gospel of Life. GOOD LUCK! I don't think that's what the slogan "CHANGE YOU CAN BELIEVE IN," means. Rather it seems to me that all the energy of the Pro-Life Movement should be focused on KEEPING the CURRENT Pro-Life Party PRO-LIFE! At least then we have a CHOICE that PEOPLE OF FAITH CAN BELIEVE IN and VOTE FOR with a good, a faithful, and a fully informed Catholic conscience.
To be continued.
Paul Beery BSP
THE ADMONITIONS OF ST. FRANCIS
XXI. The happy and the silly religious
Blessed that religious who finds all his joy and happiness in the words and deeds of our Lord and uses them to make people love God gladly. Woe to the religious who amuses himself with silly gossip, trying to make people laugh.
MORNING STAR: NEWS ON THE ASSOCIATION
The Divine Mercy Chapter of the BSP: Canada
This is a photo of the Wainwright, Canada arm of the Divine Mercy Chapter. From left to right: Fr. Ray Guimond (spiritual advisor), Janet Klasson, Allison Bennett, Rhonda L'Heureux, and Jake Hlady. Other members of the Divine Mercy Chapter are Irene Deprey, Sherry Matteotti, and Andrea Bondar.
Trusting God, walking on waters
by Anna Ferroni BSP - Italy
I love the Gospel account of Jesus walking on water and the Apostles on a boat, wondering if He is a ghost. Peter challenges His Master: "Lord," he says, "if it is you, tell me to come to you across the water." So Jesus invites Peter to come, and Peter begins walking on the water toward Jesus. But when Peter takes his eyes off Jesus, he begins to sink. Peter cries out to the Lord, and Jesus immediately reaches out his hand.
In this story, I acknowledge my personal faith problems; this is why I love it. Peter has his own drama with Jesus, the Son of God he believes in. I too experience God as so near yet so distant.
Peter represents all the human strengths and weaknesses where belief is concerned. God is always elusive. For many people today, God is pure fantasy. "It is a ghost", the disciples had exclaimed. Many people today have the impression that the world does not need God, we can do everything on our own. I too have this impression. This is my first faith problem.
A second faith problem is that we struggle with a culture that does not consider Jesus as truly God. For 2000 years the Christian Church has taught that Jesus was crucified, died, and resurrected. But many people today do not believe in Jesus' bodily resurrection and think that His reappearances to His followers after his death were a form of mass hallucination.
Others believe Jesus survived the Crucifixion and still lived many years. I am thinking of Dan Brown and "The Da Vinci code".
The bottom line is that we constantly challenge God to show that He is God and Jesus he His divine Son. But God does not deny anyone of truly goodwill sufficient grace to believe. Jesus is still calling on us: "Courage, it's Me. Do not be afraid, come, walk on the water with Me".
The Baptism of Christ
sculpted by Sansovino in 1502-1505
on the Battistero, Florence, Italy, now in the Opera del Duomo Museum, 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!
"The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God."
(1 Cor 1: 18)