ON ST. FRANCIS…
THE STIGMATA OF ST. FRANCIS
In his humility and genuine sanctity, Francis did his best and took the greatest care to hide the sacred marks, but it was God's good pleasure to work a number of public miracles by means of them, for his own glory. This he did in order that Francis might shine like a brilliant star in the midst of the thick darkness, as the hidden power of the stigmata became publicly known through these miracles. Before St. Francis went to stay on La Verna, it often happened that dark clouds would form over the mountain and violent hailstorms would devastate the crops. After his vision, with its happy consequences, the hail stopped, much to the joy and amazement of the local people. The unusually clear skies were to proclaim the extraordinary nature of his vision and the power of the stigmata which he received there.
Another time there was a serious outbreak of disease in the province of Rieti which affected sheep and cattle to such an extent that there seemed to be no remedy. Then a devout man was told in a vision at night to go immediately to the friars' hermitage where St. Francis was staying: there he was to obtain some of the water with which the saint washed his hands and feet and sprinkle the sick animals with it, which would put an end to the disease. The mad did exactly as he was told and God granted miraculous power to the water which had touched the sacred wounds. The moment the affected animals felt even the slightest drop of it their deadly illness was completely cured and they recovered their usual strength, so that they trotted off to pasture, as if there had never been anything wrong with them.
After he had received the stigmata, St. Francis' hands enjoyed such extraordinary power that their saving touch restored the sick to perfect health, and gave back life to limbs which had been paralyzed and withered. What is more, they even restored to life people who had been fatally injured. By way of anticipation, I shall mention two of the many miracles he worked and describe them briefly.
At Lerida a man named John, who had great devotion to St. Francis, was wounded so badly one night that no one could believe that he would survive the night. Then St. Francis appeared to him in a vision and touched his wounds with his sacred hands. There and then he restored him to perfect health, so that the whole countryside was loud in its praise of the standard-bearer of the Cross, saying that he was worthy of everyone's veneration. Who would not be surprised to see an acquaintance of his cruelly injured and then enjoying perfect health, at almost one and the same time? Who could remember that, without being moved to give thanks? Certainly, no one could recall such a miracle of power and goodness in a spirit of faith, without feeling some increase of devotion.
Bonaventure—Minor Life 1263
Mary, Mother of God
Homily by Fr. Robert Altier
Reading I (Numbers 6:22-27) Reading II (Galatians 4:4-7)
Gospel (St. Luke 2:16-21)
In the first reading from the Book of Numbers, we heard God telling Moses the way that he is to bless the people of Israel. Part of that blessing says, "The Lord let His face shine upon you and be gracious to you! The Lord look kindly upon you and give you peace!" That is precisely what we celebrate today: the fullness of God's blessing in this manner, that God has indeed let His face shine upon us. As Saint Paul says, "In the fullness of time, God sent His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to ransom from the law all those who were subjected to it so that we could receive our status as adopted sons."
The only way that we can receive that status is by looking upon the face of Christ, by looking upon the Lord because He has let His face shine upon us. It is not because of any worthiness of our own; it is purely a gift from God because He loves us infinitely. That is something each one of us needs to be able to accept. When we look at the feast that we celebrate today, the Divine Maternity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, how grateful we need to be for this incredible woman, the most humble creature that God ever made, and the one that He has exalted now above all creation. To this beautiful young woman, the angel Gabriel was sent, and she said yes.
Now we have difficulty accepting that God would even come into this world and that He would die for us, that He would want us to be part of Himself, that He would choose us from all humanity to be incorporated into His Mystical Body to be members of Christ, to share in His life. But that is exactly what we heard in the second reading. It was not merely that, in the fullness of time, God sent His Son to ransom us; that was not enough for God. Now God has made us His own sons and daughters, members of Jesus Christ. He has given us His Holy Spirit to dwell within us, welling up within us to cry out "Abba, Father!"
And in recognizing the fatherhood of God we inherently recognize the motherhood of Mary, the spiritual maternity of Our Lady. She is the Mother of God. She is also the mother of all of us who are members of the Son of God. Today in a special way we celebrate the Divine Maternity of Our Lady, but the Church also reminds us of the spiritual maternity of Mary: that each one of us is a child of Mary, each one of us is a member of Christ, each one of us is a son or daughter of God. We are heirs with Christ to the eternal glory of God Himself where we will be able to look upon the face of God for all eternity. The blessing that God told Moses to give to the people of Israel will be ours in its fullness.
We are able to gaze upon the face of Christ, truly present in the Blessed Sacrament. And yet, we are not able to see Him face-to-face. He is hidden, if you will, under the form of bread in the Blessed Sacrament. Yet He has called each one of us to the glory which He has won for us, the glory to be able to look upon the face of His heavenly Father, as well as that of His own beautiful countenance. We will be able to look upon the face of Christ and glorify Him for eternity and God will indeed bless us and be gracious to us.
We struggle with that. To be able to hear those things, they are so beautiful and yet we recognize that we are not worthy of them - so we doubt. We doubt whether it is really true; we doubt whether God can love us that much; we doubt whether or not it could happen within us. But all we need to do in the face of our doubts is to look back 2,000 years ago to a beautiful young woman in the presence of an angel: The angel invites her to be the Mother of God. Imagine what happened in the heart of Our Lady. Of course, we have all the sin and all the problems and she did not have that - she was humble, most of us are not. She recognized what God wanted to do within her. We see that God has given us His grace. We see that He has given us the Holy Spirit to dwell within us and we see the glory that He has called us to, but imagine if an angel appeared to you and asked you to do something even remotely similar to what he asked of Our Lady. Who of us would say yes? We would come up with all the grand justifications of why this cannot happen just as we continue to do now - why God cannot really love us and call us to Himself and hold out heaven for us and allow us to be His sons and daughters and share in His life and share in His glory and behold Him face-to-face one day. We have trouble believing that. Yet we have absolute faith – and thanks be to God for that faith – that what Mary did was real: that she brought God to birth in human form, that she looked upon the face of God in that beautiful little face of a baby who is God, that she worshiped and glorified God from the first moment of her conception, and when she looked upon her own little tiny infant Son she continued to worship God in the person of her Son.
Mary said yes to God. And we owe to her an infinite debt of gratitude because were it not for her fiat when the angel asked her if she would be willing to be the Mother of God, none of us would be saved, none of us would have the opportunity to be freed from our sins so that we could be able to glorify God forever. We would not have Jesus Christ and we would not know the forgiveness of sin. We would not know the love of God in human form. All of that was dependent on the answer of a human woman.
And now God holds out to you an invitation to say yes, just as Our Lady did. Not to conceive Christ within the womb, for those who are female, but rather, to be able to accept the invitation of God for what He wants to do in your heart, in your soul, just as Our Lady said yes and conceived Christ first in her heart before she could ever conceive Him in her womb. She had to believe and she had to accept. In the face of all the doubts, in the face of all the things that did not make sense – How could God be man? How could God, who created me, be created in me? How could God, who does not have a beginning, suddenly have a beginning? How could a Person who is divine suddenly become human? How could One who is a little human baby be the Infinite and Almighty God? – Mary said yes: "Be it done unto me according to Thy word."
And so today, as the Lord holds out for you the beautiful gift of divine son-ship which was already given to you at the moment you were baptized, He is asking, not that you keep it at an arm's distance but that you let it in, that you shape your life around the reality of who you already are. Jesus looked at Thomas in the face of all his doubts and He said, "Doubt no longer, but believe." That is exactly what He says to each one of us tonight: "Doubt no longer, but believe." You are a member of Jesus Christ. You share in the divine life. You have been incorporated into the very essence of God. You are called to Heaven. You are called to holiness in this life. That is your dignity.
That is why you can call out, inspired by the Holy Spirit "Father!" Think of what that means to call God "Father". In just a few moments, we will all pray that together in the beautiful words that Jesus gave to us: Our Father. When the children of a family sit around the home, sit around the table and talk about their father, it is because they all recognize that they are children of their father, the same father. We call God "Our Father" because we are all His children. Do not keep that out there somewhere - let it in.
The easiest way to allow it in is to go to your mother. She is your mother. From the Cross, Jesus gave you to her, and He gave her to you. Look up at the crucifix and look at Our Lady standing right beneath it. Hear Our Lord speak in your heart: "Behold your mother." Your mother. She is your mother and she wants to lead you to her Son. She wants to incorporate you into the eternity of God. She wants you to be able to join her in praising God for all eternity. She wants you to be able to look upon the beautiful countenance of her Son. She wants you to share in the same mystery that took place within her and that she was able to look upon from the time that He was a little baby until the day that He was taken from her in this world. Now she has gone forth to look upon Him for all eternity. She wants you to be part of that.
And it is not very far from you. You have chosen to come and be with God. You chose to reject the worldly ways. You have come to the true celebration. To be able to celebrate Christ and to be able to celebrate His mother on this glorious day. What a beautiful way to start the New Year. For those of you who have made your consecration to the Blessed Virgin Mary, I would strongly urge you on this day to renew that consecration. And if you have not consecrated yourself to Jesus through Mary, I strongly recommend that you do so as soon as possible.
Today, as we celebrate her divine maternity, we recognize the love of God in human form. God who is with us and will not abandon us, God who loves us so much that He took on our human nature. As Saint Paul says, "He took the form of a slave," - the one who is Master of all. We can trust Him. We can rely on Him. We can count on Him and never doubt. We should banish all doubts from our minds and keep our hearts focused on Jesus. Forget trying to make sense of it because it is not going to happen. Just accept.
When the angel told Mary that the power of the Holy Spirit would overshadow her and she would conceive, and the Son within her womb would be God, she simply said yes. It is an infinite mystery. Mary did not understand. We do not understand. All we can do is say yes. Let God work in your heart. Let Him call you. Let what is happening in your heart tonight continue, not only this night and this year, but throughout your whole life. Allow your life to be one of prayer, prayer with Our Lady, prayer focused on the face in the Sacred Heart of Jesus, united with her, gazing on the face of the Lord. That is what she wants for you, she who is your mother.
Remember what she said to Blessed Juan Diego 470 years ago, those beautiful words: "Am I not here, who am your mother?" Jesus is here with us and Mary is here with us. We have nothing to fear, but rather, we simply need to be filled with grace and gratitude. Look to them and remain with them and trust. "Do not let your hearts be troubled," Jesus said. And as we celebrate this glorious feast of the Divine Maternity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we recognize that we have no reason to be troubled about anything. God is with us. All things happen according to His plan, in His way.
When we look back 2,000 years ago and see the events that were taking place in and around the Holy Land – the Roman soldiers who had taken over, the way that the Jewish faith was not being lived by most of the people and even by most of the priests: it was a laughingstock, it was a mockery –in the midst of that God found a faithful virgin and she conceived and bore His Son. He found a faithful priest in Zechariah. He found Simeon and Anna, who were holy and faithful. We can look at all that 2,000 years ago and, from the objective birds eye view that we now have, we can see how God used all of that to bring about this greatest good of the Incarnation of His Son.
It is no different today. God has found you, holy and good. And He brings His Son to you, born of the Virgin Mary, born under the law to deliver from the law all those who were subjected to it so that we can enjoy the freedom of the children of God. That is the glory that He is calling you to. If we look around the world, we see the exact same kind of setup that we saw 2,000 years ago. God will use it all for His greater glory and to bring about an even greater event than what took place 2,000 years ago. All we need to do is trust and allow Our Lady to work. God worked the greatest miracle that humanity has ever known through Our Lady. And He continues to work through His mother in each one of us because she is our mother.
So we go to Our Lady, to our mother. We consecrate ourselves to her and we allow her to lead us in the path that her Son has laid out. We listen and we obey the words of our mother when she points to her Son and looks at us and says, "Do whatever He tells you." Whatever He tells you. It does not matter if it makes sense to you or not, just trust and do it. That is all that He is asking. He is God. He is not going to ask you to anything that will be bad for you. He is not going to ask you to do anything that will violate you. He wants only the very best for you. "Doubt no longer, but believe," and "do whatever He tells you." Learn from your mother, and when God calls you, say yes. Do not think that it has to be something extraordinary like what happened to Our Lady; chances are that an angel is not going to appear to you and ask you to do something extraordinary for God.
But God is calling you. God has called you from the moment of your Baptism. God is calling you now. You would not be here tonight if God did not call you here. Say yes. You said yes to Him already tonight to come here to be with Him. But now say yes with your life. Not just for a few hours, but for your whole life and for all eternity. When Our Lady said yes to the angel, she said yes to God and she said yes to everything that would follow from it. God is calling you in the depth of your heart, in the depth of your being. He is calling you by name. Our Lady simply says, "Do whatever He tells you." We learn from her to say fiat mihi secundum verbum tuum – Be it done unto me according to Thy word. That is all that is being asked. Say yes. Are we willing to do it, to allow God to be gracious to us and to bless us and to allow His face to shine upon us? That is what He is holding out to you right now. Say yes and allow the Lord to be born within your heart as He was in Our Lady's. And look upon the face of God and glorify Him with your whole being.
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.
LET US BEGIN…
We love those words and use them often in our family sharing. We are all on this path to heaven, which is narrow, and requires often that we readjust out travels, assess our position, and begin anew. This is the fun of living the Christian life in this very dark age of ours. Always till now we have done nothing.
The Lord said that. "When you have done all you have been commanded, say, 'We are unprofitable servants; we have done what we were obliged to do.'" (LK 17:10)
What have we been commanded to do? Put simply, to live the Gospel. In order to advance in prayer and a holy life we need to live it generously too. Not with mediocrity. Not with indifference. We need to advance in knowledge of the things of God. To do this we need to pray, and study and know the things of God. These things were given to us by Christ. We cannot come on them ourselves. We don't need to come on them ourselves. They have been given to us and blessed are we if we know them. Blessed still more are we if we live them.
If you read the Gospel literally it impacts every aspect of our life. The Lord left nothing undone. We don't have to wonder what else we can do in our life. We need simply to open our hearts to God, in prayer, to ask him to give us BIG hearts, GENEROUS hearts, and a BIG love with which to love Him. That love that His Mother had. That love that the Saints had. He is generous and will not deny us the good things we need to advance in a holy life. His Spirit will come upon us and in a manner so gentle guide us to become more than we dreamed for love of Him. To begin always anew to add more things to our life that please Him. More thoughts, words, and actions that overcome our ongoing and ever-persistent weaknesses and open the door to holiness for us. The door to heaven.
Jesus is the keeper of that door. St. Peter has the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Our Saintly brothers and sisters in the full spirit of their eternal generosity and perpetual love want us there, with them, forever in the sight, the love, the power and joy of God's presence. Do you think they would deny us a prayer to become better? To do more? Not likely.
The Rule we live is a generous response to the Gospel. It is not an accident. It was given to St. Francis for us, the laity, so we could follow in the footsteps of Christ like St. Francis did in our own lives, which are vastly different, and in many ways more demanding and dangerous, than the lives of priests and sisters in the Church who live in a more protected and directed environment. Our call is special.
We walk on the battlegrounds of life. We walk among sinners while fighting the call to sin in ourselves in a unique way. Out amongst the sheep. In the world but not of it. We are not shepherds, but what we have that is different than others is knowledge of the call to follow Christ that is special and different than so many we walk amongst. When we can, when we see, when we feel called, to witness to God with others we need to do that. To be a light to those around us. To begin to shine brighter; to call openly and loudly; to a world darkened by lust and the lure of the flesh. To begin anew, and with a peaceful serenity and enthusiasm, to always be open to what God wants of us.
Let us begin in this new year to shine. Let us begin, for until now we have done nothing.
Happy New Year!
Yours in Christ, His Mother, and St. Francis who loved them both as we should.
Bruce and Shelley Fahey BSP
Administrators of the BSP
From the Gospel Reading for the Feast of Epiphany
by Janet Klasson BSP
"On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then opening their treasure chests they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh."
On entering the house...
Let us enter the glorious house of the Lord, his church. We have traveled far in this life seeking for our King. To our everlasting joy and amazement, he comes to the lowly manger of our hearts in each Holy Communion. How can we possibly be ready? It is good and wise to ask Mary and Joseph to prepare the lowly manger of our hearts, that we will have a worthy resting place for the Infant King.
...they saw the child with Mary his mother...
Do we see the child in our hearts after every Communion? Do we see him there with Mary his mother? What do we say? She smiles at us and beckons to us. How do we respond? Where is Joseph? What is he saying to us? We can ponder these things in our hearts as Mary did.
...and they knelt down and paid him homage...
He is here! Here! In our hearts! Let us prostrate ourselves before the Infant King. He comes to rule the world with justice and the peoples with fairness. Oh how we need him, at this time as in no other. O come, let us adore him, Christ the Lord. Our prayers of praise and thanksgiving after Communion are so fruitful and powerful. The evil powers quake before them. The evil one will try to distract us from our prayers at this time. Fight his tactics with the invincible weapons of humility, praise, and gratitude.
...Then opening their treasure chests...
Where our hearts are, there is our treasure. Let us examine our hearts. What have we stored up? Do we have anything fit to offer the King of Kings? Have we allowed the refuse of the world to collect in the corners? Are we clinging to what cannot save us? Let us fling open the doors of our hearts and discard the refuse without a backward glance. Then we will be able to see the real treasure, the offerings we can make to the Prince of Peace.
...they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.
What do we have left after we have disposed of the refuse? Where do we find gold, frankincense or myrrh to offer? We can offer our Mighty God the gold of our almsgiving. In giving to the poor we give to Christ, and whatever we give away, the Lord will repay a hundred-fold in spiritual treasures, pearls of great price. We can offer the Wonder-Counsellor the frankincense of our prayers. But what is the fragrance that accompanies our prayers into heaven? Are we sincere and attentive, praying always in the Divine Will, without the stench of selfish motives? We can offer our Everlasting Father the myrhh of fasting. In dying to self, we offer our Lord myrrh, a burial spice. By our penance we say to our Infant King, "I am willing to die with you and for you. My penance prepares my body for burial."
Our Lord comes to us anew in each Communion. What can we offer? Let us ponder this great mystery with Mary, that we may bear Christ to the world as she did.
Peace and blessings to all my dear Brothers and Sisters.
Janet Klasson BSP - Canada
NO GREATER LOVE: by PAUL BEERY BSP - January 2009
"Have mercy on me, God, in your kindness. In the greatness of your compassion blot out my offense. O wash me more and more from my guilt, and cleanse me from my sin.'" (Psalm 51)
I began writing this article on the day before a recent serious medical procedure from which I may not have awakened – in this world. A near death experience has profound consequences, and it was no different for me. It brought about a close encounter with REMORSE! I have long wished that before I die God would provide a nice warning, for example through some fatal illness. "You have three months to live." Then I could prepare to meet the Lord. Now that the time was actually here, what could I possibly do in one day! I knew one thing for sure – it was time to REPENT! I went to confession, and it was like none other. There was real sorrow for a lifetime of offending God, of putting forth such a seemingly puny effort to live a grace-filled life, being ashamed of at times failing to do even the smallest sacrifice FOR THE LOVE OF GOD! How can one not be remorseful when considering a lifetime of wasted opportunity to respond in kind to the One who brought us into being to glorify Him in the fullness of eternal life? St. Francis puts this overpowering feeling into perspective in his Letter to All the Faithful:
Every creature in heaven and on earth and in the depths of the sea should give God praise and glory and honor and blessing (cf. Ap. 5: 13); he has borne so much for us and has done and will do so much good to us; he is our power and our strength, and he alone is good (cf. Lk. 18:19), he alone most high, he alone all-powerful, wonderful, and glorious; he alone is holy and worthy of all praise and blessing for endless ages and ages. Amen.
During my confession I broke down and began to cry. The priest seemed to be very nervous. Men aren't supposed to do such things. Something was broken. Again, Francis explains why:
It is not for us to be wise and calculating in the world's fashion; we should be guileless, lowly, and pure. We should hold our lower nature in contempt, as a source of shame to us, because through our own fault we are wretched and utterly corrupt, nothing more than worms, as our Lord tells us by the Prophet, I am a worm; the scorn of men, despised by the people (Ps. 21: 7).
We think we know others faults pretty well, but we give ourselves the benefit of the doubt. There are always mitigating circumstances. But this time there were NONE. "I have sinned through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault," we used to say. No excuses. I don't know if God does nuance. Facing the Judge for the accounting of a lifetime, there is no defense attorney, because there is no defense. If I have ever felt real remorse, this was it. There were no words that could adequately express what I felt. After what seemed like an interminable length of time, all I could say was: "I feel so CHEAP!" I'll never forget that moment. The only thing left was hope in, and complete dependence on His Divine Mercy.
But now with the passage of time, only several short months later, those powerful feelings are in danger of slipping away. There is a certain deadening in the routine of daily life. I fight to keep the lesson learned on the front burner, stay one step ahead of mediocrity, and not return to the same old same old. It's very troubling failing to maintain the same level of intensity.
"O Lord, I am not worthy that You should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed." This is one of the great penitential verses in all of Sacred Scripture. But keeping in mind a certain parable where the Master seeks to invite everyone into His banquet, could not the repentant sinner also say: "O Lord, I am not worthy that I should enter into Your Presence. You see the kind of tattered wedding garment a thoughtless and slothful ingrate has woven." Yes I know we cannot be saved by our own efforts. But speaking for myself, it seems that I could darn well put up a better fight than I usually do to respond in a positive manner to the promptings of the Holy Spirit! Matthew speaks of even doing violence to oneself.
Fr. Richard Neuhaus, in the January issue of First Things magazine, has a good analogy concerning the many opportunities to love and serve God that go unheeded. He quoted the humorist P.J. O'Rourke on the concept of government waste. "It is a popular delusion that the government wastes vast amounts of money through inefficiency and sloth. No. ENORMOUS EFFORT and ELABORATE PLANNING are required to WASTE THIS MUCH MONEY!"
So too, I REALLY WORK HARD TO WASTE TIME! It takes enormous effort and elaborate planning to uproot the little seeds planted by the Lord. Those of us blessed with the intimate union of marriage know firsthand how it is to have remorse over how we have dealt, or failed to deal with our beloved spouse. Jesus compares His relationship with the Church to that of a bride and bridegroom. And that relationship is held out to His creatures in the incredible divine love affair He seeks with each one of us. How many respond? I feel we in the BSP are among the "First Responders," as emergency personnel are called. So great a LOVE is entitled to SO GREAT A RESPONSE! In an emergency, that response has to be profound, even perfect, or the victim dies. If we don't feel a sense of urgency to respond to numerous divine opportunities, our love grows cold, or even dies. We become the victim through our own inaction.
And so we come to New Year's resolutions. Mine has been given to me on a silver platter: LIVE IN THE PRESENCE OF GOD AT ALL TIMES, for you never know when He will call you! We hear this all the time, but we hear lots of good things, and eventually manage to ignore them all, compliments of Original Sin. Surely one of the most frustrating parts of the human condition is to be aware of some great personal failing, yet BE TOTALLY UNABLE TO DO ANYTHING ABOUT IT! This is perhaps the exact point where God sees us as most lovable. Divine compassion has to come to the fore seeing us struggle to overcome this most basic human weakness with the aid of His divine grace. At times we are swept away with the greatest fervor, even to lay down our lives for the love of God. The next minute we are back in our selfish little world plotting how we can push Him into the background. One minute on the mountain of transfiguration, the next in the valley of darkness and the shadow of death. Always the pendulum swings, unstoppable. What an opportunity to show PERSEVERENCE! Do our purgatory on earth. Remain faithful. Make a DAILY examination of conscience and firm purpose of amendment.
St. Augustine long ago came up with a permanent solution: maintain a high and constant level of DESIRE. (From a discourse on the Psalms by St. Augustine, Friday, Office of Readings, third week of Advent) "If your desire lies open to Him who is your Father, and who sees in secret, He will answer you. FOR THE DESIRE OF YOUR HEART IS ITSELF YOUR PRAYER. AND IF THE DESIRE IS CONSTANT, (then) SO IS YOUR PRAYER. The Apostle Paul had a purpose in saying, 'Pray without ceasing.' There is an interior kind of prayer without ceasing, namely THE DESIRE OF THE HEART. Whatever else you may be doing, if you fix your desire on God's rest (union), your prayer will be ceaseless. Therefore if you wish to pray without ceasing, do not cease to desire."
Augustine continues: "The constancy of your desire will itself be the ceaseless voice of your prayer. And that voice of your prayer will be silent only when your love ceases. The chilling of love means that your heart is silent; while burning love is the outcry of the heart. If your love is without ceasing, you are crying out always; if you always cry out, you are always desiring; and if you desire, you are calling to mind your eternal rest in the Lord." Amen to that.
"Since he clings to Me in love I will free him; protect him for he knows My Name. When he calls I shall answer: 'I am with you.' I will save him in distress and give him glory." Psalm 91
Paul Beery BSP
MORNING STAR: NEWS ON THE ASSOCIATION
FATHER TONY CIRIGNANI ofm
Father Tony contacted us through the Internet. Later, we spoke at length about the BSP and he affirmed a very positive interest in the Association and said "don't give up!" to us all. He feels we are 'on track' for what the Franciscan Orders need and one among several authentic Associations among the Faithful that might have a huge mission in the Church to reform the spirit of the Church in our times. He feels this change in the Orders will come from the laity! That is a pretty strong affirmation of the BSP, and similar Associations elsewhere promoting this rule. We should all celebrate!
We will meet with him at length in Manitowoc, Wisconsin, where he is located now. We hope to formulate a plan for his further involvement in the Association which we can communicate to all. He mentioned some exciting things, including spiritual direction on line within the Association. For now he has agreed to be the retreat master at next years retreat! Praise God! Put it on your calendar. The last weekend in July.
The BSP is about promoting the Rule that St. Francis gave us, gathering in support of it, and promoting it in the Church. Those are the "permissions" that we have received from the Church through all of the Bishops and Archbishops that have supported us through the years. We need only do it.
That said, we have 30 individuals who have professed in the BSP to date. We have seven Chapters including two in this diocese. One in Canada and another in California that are well formed and well on their way. We have another three or four Chapters in the initial stages of formation. One that looks very promising in Germany. They have translated the Rule, Statutes, and lessons into German and are moving ahead.
Let us keep these Chapters in our prayers. Their role is critically important to the long life and ministry of the BSP and its mission.
Lisa Drago BSP has compiled a new Handbook for the Brothers and Sisters of Penance of St. Francis and it has now been approved by Bruce and Shelley Fahey, the current Administrators of the BSP, and our Visitor, Father Robert Altier. The 5 ˝ x 8 ˝ - 50+ page Handbook is a practical aide to living the Rule of 1221.
The main sections in the Handbook are as follows:
The cost of the Handbook is $15 each, which includes shipping and handling. To order simply send an email to
email@example.com , subject line Handbook, and inside give us the complete mailing address. Please follow it up with $15 check or money order to BSP Headquarters, 20939 Quadrant Ave. N., Scandia, MN. 55073, or you can order by mail . Please allow three weeks for delivery.
Introduction to the BSP
St. Francis' Letter to All the Faithful
Rule and Statutes in a Snapshot
Complete Rule and Statutes (Rule of 1221)
Prayers of the BSP
THE ADMONITIONS OF ST. FRANCIS
XXV. True love
Blessed that friar who loves his brother as much when he is sick and can be of no use to him as when he is well and can be of use to him. Blessed that friar who loves and respects his brother as much when he is absent as when he is present and who would not say anything behind his back that he could not say charitably to his face.
"and on entering the house they saw the child with Mary his mother. They prostrated themselves and did him homage. Then they opened their treasures and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh."
"The Holy Family"
Luca Signorelli (around 1490)
Florence, Italy, Galleria degli Uffizi
BROTHERS AND SISTERS OF PENANCE OF ST. FRANCIS
a.k.a. the BSP, is a non-profit Private Association of the Faithful, which is dedicated to renewing the ancient way of penance as contained in the First Rule of the Third Order of St. Francis of 1221 for lay people in our modern world. We have the blessing of the Catholic Church to do this through several of its bishops. If you are bound by another Rule of life in another profession of the way of St. Francis that does not permit you to enter other religious families you are nonetheless invited to become an Honorary member of our Association and add the elements of this beautiful way of life that Saint Francis of Assisi gave us to the lifestyle of your profession.
All members, and Franciscans, are welcome to submit articles for consideration for inclusion in this newsletter if they are directed towards the spiritual formation of members or are the outgrowth of the lifestyle of the Association. Just send them to the BSP at
firstname.lastname@example.org. Feel free to share this newsletter with your friends or neighbors. It is intended to be the primary monthly communication of the Association. And if you can find it in your heart and in your budget remember that donations to the BSP are used strictly to promote the lifestyle and are tax deductible.
We remain, always, sincerely yours in the love of Jesus Christ!
Bruce and Shelley Fahey BSP
Welcome to the Brothers and Sisters of Penance!