ON ST. FRANCIS:
CHAPTER VII—St. Francis Death
At Thebes in Greece a blind woman fasted on bread and water on the vigil of the feast of St. Francis, and early on the morning of the feast her husband brought her to the friar's church. During Mass she opened her eyes at the elevation of Christ's Body; she saw it clearly and adored It devoutly. Even as she adored, she cried out and said to all those who had turned around when she shouted, "Thanks be to God and His saint! I can see Christ's Body." When Mass was over she went home in joy of spirit having recovered her sight. She was happy not merely because she had recovered the sight of her eyes, but because through the merits of St. Francis and her own faith she had caught her first glimpse of the adorable Sacrament, which is the light of souls, living and true.
A fourteen-year old boy from Pofi in Campania was attacked by a sudden illness and lost his left eye completely. Agonizing pain forced the eye from its socket, so that it hung down along his cheek by a sinew the full length of a finger; it remained like that for a whole week and became completely dried up. The only thing left was to cut it off; the doctors had no hope. This his father implored the help of St. Francis with all his heart. The saint never wearies of helping those in trouble and he was quick to come to the aid of his suppliant. He restored the eye to its proper position and its former health, giving back to the boy the sight he longed for.
At Castro dei Volsci in the same district a heavy pile of timber fell from a height and struck a priest on the head, blinding his left eye. It was St. Francis vigil and as he lay on the ground he appealed to him mournfully in a loud voice, saying, "Help me, holy father, so that I can go to your feast as I promised your friars." There and then he stood up, perfectly healed, and he broke out into a hymn of joy and praise, so that the onlookers who were sympathizing with him were amazed and delighted. He went to the feast, telling everybody how he had experienced the saint's mercy and power.
A man from Monte Gargano was chopping down some timber in his vineyard, when he struck his own eye and split it in two, so that half of it hung outside the socket. He was sure no human being could help him in his terrible misfortune and he promised that he would fast on the feast of St. Francis, if he helped him. The saint immediately restored his eye to its proper position and rejoined it, giving him his sight, so that no trace of the injury remained.
Minor Life – Bonaventure 1263
Easter Sunday Homily by Fr. Robert Altier
Reading I (Acts 10:34a, 37-43) Reading II (Colossians 3:1-4)
Gospel (St. John 20:1-9)
"Alleluia" - that beautiful word, which we have not heard for six weeks, once again pours forth from our mouths. "Alleluia." It comes from two Hebrew words that mean "Praise Yahweh." In English, it means "Praise God." While we continue to speak the English, the Hebrew we have not spoken. Now, it comes forth again; and we praise God with our whole heart because we celebrate the most important event in human history today. Jesus Christ is risen from the dead.
When we think about our Christian faith, we need to ask ourselves, "What do we really believe?" Most of us were baptized as little babies, and we were raised as Christian people. Sometimes, we never stop to think about what we believe. We go through the motions week after week, but sometimes it never really sinks into the depths of our hearts. Today is the day that makes us truly Christian. Today, we will renew the baptismal vows that were made so many years ago (for most of us). They were made the day we became Christians; the day we professed our faith in the Holy Trinity; the day we rejected Satan and all his empty works and promises; the day we said "Yes" to Jesus Christ. But it is more than simply saying, "Yes, I believe." For Christian people, on the day we were baptized, we were baptized into the Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. We have been made sharers in His Death and Resurrection. We are members of Jesus Christ; that is what Saint Paul is talking about in the second reading today.
We see what happened today, 2000 years ago, and we rejoice wholeheartedly that our Lord rose from the dead. We realize that this is not an event just for Him alone. As wonderful as it is, what difference would it make to the rest of us if all we could do was say that He rose from the dead? With modern medical technology, we can suggest that a number of people have risen from the dead. Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, and a couple of other people as well. But the interesting thing is, if you think about Lazarus: Peter, who ate and drank with Lazarus after he was raised from the dead (we are told, in Scripture, they had a banquet for Lazarus and Jesus and his disciples were invited to it), didn't run around the countryside proclaiming the forgiveness of sin in the name of Lazarus, who was risen from the dead. That is because Lazarus was not resurrected; he was resuscitated. Lazarus had to die again.
In Jesus Christ, death has died, death has been destroyed. There is no more dying for Christ. And for us, who are baptized into Jesus Christ, we share already in His death and resurrection. Saint Paul tells us, "Set your sights on the things above, not on the things of earth. Because you have died with Christ. When Christ your life appears in glory, you also will appear with Him." That is our faith as Christian people: The resurrection from the dead. This is something that, on the natural level, is very difficult for us. It means that your body, the one sitting right there in the pew, is going to rise from the dead. Your body will share physically in the death of Christ. It already shares mystically in that. You will share physically in that one day, as well. You will also share physically in His Resurrection. Your body, like the body of Jesus Christ, will rise from the dead. Not like the body of Lazarus, because Lazarus's body had to die again. The body of Lazarus will rise on the last day, but he still awaits that. So, there is a difference between what happened with Jesus and what happened with Lazarus; it is not the same thing.
Only in Jesus Christ is there a resurrection. Only in Jesus Christ do we proclaim our faith. Only in Jesus Christ is there forgiveness of sin. Because of His death and resurrection, He is the One who will come again to judge the living and the dead. So, for all of us, we need to ask ourselves, "How much does this really mean to me? How much does my faith in Jesus Christ really mean? Is it the central element of my life? Am I truly seated at God's right hand already, in Christ? Am I living that way? Do I really believe that?" In just a couple of moments, we will renew our baptismal vows. We need to ask ourselves, "Do I really reject Satan in my life? Am I truly living for God in Jesus Christ? Do I live the faith I profess? Have I rejected sin? Have I rejected death?"
You see, people in our society are terrified of death. We do everything we can to live longer. That is a mystery I have never understood. The goal of life is to get to Heaven; why anybody wants to stay here any longer, I do not understand at all. Set your sights on the things above, where Christ is already seated at God's right hand and you are seated there with Him. Why do you want to hang out here any longer, if you can be with Him? Now, I am not suggesting that we should go out and have a mass suicide or anything ridiculous, but it is simply to say, that for Christian people, death is not something to be afraid of. Death has been destroyed in Jesus Christ. Death is a doorway now, that we have to go through if we want to enter into eternal glory. It is not something we fear; it is not something we should try to avoid; and, for Heaven's sake, it is not a reason we should seek a way to prolong our life here on earth.
You see these unfortunate things now. With all this cloning, people are saying, "Now I can be immortal." You are. You are immortal already. Your soul will never die. Jesus looked at Martha (when Martha came out to meet Him) and she said, "Lord, if You had been here, my brother would never have died. Now, I am sure God will give You whatever You ask of Him." Not only did Jesus tell her that her brother would rise, but He went on to say to her, "Whoever believes in Me, whoever is alive and believes in Me, will never die." Then He looked at Martha and said, "Do you believe this? Whoever is alive and believes in Me will never die." Your soul is immortal. Your soul, your entire person, is already in Jesus Christ. You have died with Christ already in Baptism and you have risen with Christ already in Baptism.
If you are in the state of grace, you have absolutely nothing to fear in death. Rather, it is something we should embrace joyfully, that we should look forward to; not because we want to die, but because we live, we have life in Christ. That is what our faith is all about. Do not look for ways to hang on here; look for the ways to get to Him. There is only one way: He is the Way, and the Truth, and the Life. Do we want life? Then we want Jesus Christ. Do we want the truth? Then we want Jesus Christ. If we want the only way that leads to life and to truth, then we want Jesus Christ. There is nothing in this world that will get us to Heaven. There is nothing in this world that will make us immortal. There is nothing in this world that will allow us to live forever. But Jesus Christ, who is already seated at God's right hand, has made us immortal. He has promised us eternal life with Him and has given us everything we need to achieve and fulfill that promise. Do you believe this? That is what we are going to state in just a moment, when we renew our baptismal vows.
Today and everyday, as Christian people, we each sing "Alleluia." We praise God because we do not live in fear anymore. We are people of hope; we are people of praise. So, we need to look very seriously at ourselves after having come through the forty days of Lent, where we were trying to die to our passions, where we were trying to put the self and all the things of this world aside, so we could focus on life in Christ. Today, as Jesus rises from the dead and we celebrate the Resurrection, we really need to look at ourselves. Having put that other stuff aside so we can see more clearly, we need to ask ourselves, with brutal honesty in the depths of our hearts, "Am I filled with hope in the Resurrection?" Not merely, "Do I believe in the Resurrection of Jesus Christ?" You would not be here today if you did not. Are you filled with hope in your resurrection from the dead? Are you filled with faith that you are already seated at God's right hand, and therefore, that you already take part in the divine worship of Heaven, which is exactly what happens right here on the altar?
If you are already seated at God's right hand, then you have been re-created in Jesus Christ for the praise of God's glory. That is why, today and everyday, we sing "Alleluia." It is because we already behold God. In Heaven, all they do is worship God and praise Him for eternity; and we, out of God's love, have already been incorporated into that heavenly worship so we can praise Him. What we await now is the day when we will enter physically into that. Spiritually now, and mystically, we worship Jesus Christ in the Eucharist; and we praise Him there where we can not yet see Him. But we await the day when we will truly behold Him face to face, and the day when our bodies will rise from the dead to be reunited with our souls and forever we will sing the beautiful hymn to the Lamb: "Alleluia! Praise God!"
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.
ADMINISTRATOR'S MESSAGE: "The Sign of Jonah"
"An evil and unfaithful generation seeks a sign, but no sign will be given it except the sign of Jonah the prophet." (MT 12:39)
This Scripture falls in the Gospel of St. Matthew after Jesus had worked multitudinous miracles, walked on water, and fed the thousands. The Pharisees and Sadducees came to test him, and asked him for a sign from heaven. He refused it, but not completely. Their sign would be the 'sign of Jonah'.
Now they knew the story of Jonah, but no doubt did not realize that the 'sign of Jonah' was not his being in the belly of the whale for three days and three nights before being returned to life on the shore. Only after his resurrection would that 'sign' be obvious in the life of Jesus Christ, or His Resurrection that is, for those who could see it. For these Pharisees and Sadducee's, and all of the millions of people today who do not have yet the love of Jesus or the Faith, nothing would change. They would not see the "sign of Jonah", but should they? How would it look?
The fact is that today there are many times more Pharisees and Sadducees walking around our world who have no knowledge of Jesus. It is an amazing truth, and we have all encountered it at different times and places in our lives. People we meet who don't know God. Atheists, or agnostics, but in one way or the other, unbelievers. The world is filled with them. Even though the 'sign of Jonah' has been given for 20 centuries in the life of Jesus Christ they don't see it!
In a week or so we will celebrate Easter. The whole world will be told that it is here. It has nothing to do with Easter bunnies, but that is what the world has relegated it to. The Easter bunny, and Easter eggs, Easter baskets, and egg hunts. Yet, the 'sign of Jonah' is there, behind it all. The resurrection of the Christ. The resurrection he told his apostles about shortly after condemning the Pharisees and Sadducees, and Peter's confession that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the Living God. Only after this annunciation by Peter did the Lord proceed to tell them that he must suffer, and die, and would rise again from the dead. He foretold his crucifixion and his resurrection to them, and even had to admonish Peter who tried to tell him that it could not be that way. It had to be that way for the Lord to fulfill his mission.
So, where is the sign of Jonah today? For one, we are that sign. Without faith the resurrection is just a story. People who say it is a story never ask where the grave of Jesus is? Is it likely we lost it? Is it likely the death of this wonderful man would be lost in history? Not likely, but the people of this age don't ask that question. Where is His grave? They encounter us. We testify by words, actions, and witness, to our belief in this Jesus. To our belief in the resurrection. Our belief is a call to them to consider the 'sign of Jonah' in their lives, and it might be all the call they receive.
So, this Easter let us consider again that we might be the only 'sign of Jonah' that many people encounter. When the Lord admonished the Pharisees and Sadducees he said " An evil and adulterous generation" looks for a miraculous sign. He did not say 'This evil and adulterous generation". He was speaking to all generations for all time. All generations for all time that are evil will get no sign but the 'sign of Jonah'; the alleged but real and historical resurrection of Jesus in three days, to consider, to ponder, to decide if they are interested.
The Lord will reveal himself to his own in many other ways; in faith, and sign, in vision and miracle, depth of spirit, and motion of the Holy Spirit, but to others, they must see the 'sign of Jonah' or see no sign at all. Often, we must be that 'sign' to this age in the way we live, in what we do and say, and in our Love of God and neighbor.
Have a holy and happy Easter!
Bruce and Shelley Fahey BSP
From the Psalm for Passion Sunday
by Janet Klasson BSP
Psalm 22:2 My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?
With these words it seemed our Lord was crying out in anguish for his Father who seemed, as the verse continues, "far from my call for help, from my cries of anguish." Yet, it may be that this was not merely an anguished plea, but a call to prayer directed at those faithful disciples at the foot of the cross, a call from the high priest to take up the psalm he was intoning with these words. Our Lord, who never did anything that did not have a deeper meaning was quite likely conducting a sacred liturgy from the altar of sacrifice.
Let us imagine for a moment that we had been given the extraordinary grace needed to stay with Jesus and his Mother. Let us imagine we are the "beloved disciple" at the foot of the cross, responding to our Lord's call to prayer. Let us ponder in the shadow of the cross what new meaning flows from the words of this familiar psalm.
2 My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?
Why so far from my call for help,
from my cries of anguish?
3 My God, I call by day, but you do not answer;
by night, but I have no relief.
O Lord, my heart is being torn from my body as I see your earthly life being ripped from you in such agony. You are my God, and when you go I, too, will feel abandoned. Will you hear me when I call? How will I survive when my heart is gone? Yet, I must echo your prayer: Not my will, but thine be done.
4 Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One;
you are the glory of Israel.
O Jesus, I believe that you are the Holy One, the glory of Israel. But this is not the throne I imagined for you. I do not understand! I recall Abraham who, against all hope, believed in hope. I believe in you Jesus. I do believe!
7 But I am a worm, hardly human,
scorned by everyone, despised by the people.
8 All who see me mock me;
they curl their lips and jeer;
they shake their heads at me:
9 "You relied on the LORD--let him deliver you;
if he loves you, let him rescue you."
My Lord and my God, as I pray these words from the psalm, I hear them echoed in the jeers of the crowd, and even in the taunts of one who is crucified with you. Strangely this gives me hope, for I see now that this had to happen, that it was foretold from of old. I see now that you, Jesus, are the fulfillment of this prophecy. My Lord and my God! I see, but I do not understand. Help me Jesus!
10 Yet you drew me forth from the womb,
made me safe at my mother's breast.
11 Upon you I was thrust from the womb;
since birth you are my God.
I see your Mother who will not leave you, who would gladly take your place if you willed it. In her eyes I see the flight into Egypt when she and St. Joseph kept you safe from your enemies, relying on God's providence in a strange land. This too is a strange land, a land where innocent men are cruelly condemned, where the Lord of life is tortured and put to death. I do not understand! But Mary's life has been one unending Fiat! I too must accept the will of God, as Jesus does, as Mary does.
12 Do not stay far from me,
for trouble is near,
and there is no one to help.
13 Many bulls surround me;
fierce bulls of Bashan encircle me.
14 They open their mouths against me,
lions that rend and roar.
It seems so much more than a week ago that crowds welcomed you into Jerusalem with shouts of "Hosanna!" Now many of these same people roar against you. How can this be? Are human beings really so fickle, so ready to be turned into pawns of the evil one? Jesus, grant that I may remain faithful to you always, for I am made of the same brittle human fabric. I cannot be faithful without your grace. Jesus help me!
15 Like water my life drains away;
all my bones grow soft.
My heart has become like wax,
it melts away within me.
16 As dry as a potsherd is my throat;
my tongue sticks to my palate;
you lay me in the dust of death.
O Jesus! As much as I want your pain to end, it is excruciating to watch your life melt away like wax. My broken heart I offer to you with love if it will give you some relief. Let the love I have for the souls you gave your life for, quench your thirst in some way. Jesus I want to give you relief! Show me what I must do.
17 Many dogs surround me;
a pack of evildoers closes in on me.
So wasted are my hands and feet
18 that I can count all my bones.
They stare at me and gloat;
19 they divide my garments among them;
for my clothing they cast lots.
Again, as I see these things happening, I am reminded that you O Lord are the one whom the prophets foretold. This psalm is being fulfilled before my eyes. O Jesus, you are the Messiah, the Promised One! Through tears of anguish, I adore you on your holy throne.
22 Save me from the lion's mouth,
my poor life from the horns of wild bulls.
23 Then I will proclaim your name to the assembly;
in the community I will praise you:
24 "You who fear the LORD, give praise!
All descendants of Jacob, give honor;
show reverence, all descendants of Israel!
25 For God has not spurned or disdained
the misery of this poor wretch,
Did not turn away from me,
but heard me when I cried out.
This my Lord, this is the hope to which you have called us in this prayer. I feel reassured somehow that this will not end in ignominy but in glory. I do not know how, but I believe, and I praise God through my tears, for I know from the depths of my heart that he hears me whenever I cry.
26 I will offer praise in the great assembly;
my vows I will fulfill before those who fear him.
27 The poor will eat their fill;
those who seek the LORD will offer praise.
May your hearts enjoy life forever!"
28 All the ends of the earth
will worship and turn to the LORD;
All the families of nations
will bow low before you.
29 For kingship belongs to the LORD,
the ruler over the nations.
30 All who sleep in the earth
will bow low before God;
All who have gone down into the dust
will kneel in homage.
31 And I will live for the LORD;
my descendants will serve you.
32 The generation to come will be told of the Lord,
that they may proclaim to a people yet unborn
the deliverance you have brought.
As I see the first part of this prophetic psalm fulfilled before my eyes, I must believe that the glory promised at the end of it will also be fulfilled. O Jesus, you knew when you called us to prayer from the altar of sacrifice, that we would be filled with certain hope as we prayed. You have done nothing for yourself, but even as your life drains away, all is for us. Jesus I believe! I believe and I hope!
Dear brothers and sisters, may God grant us the grace to remain faithful and filled with hope, even in suffering. Have a blessed Holy Week, Octave of Easter, and feast of Divine Mercy. Jesus we trust in you.
Janet Klasson BSP - Divine Mercy Chapter - Canada
NO GREATER LOVE: by PAUL BEERY BSP - April 2009
"Jesus, knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the Scriptures might be fulfilled, said, 'I THIRST.'" (John 19)
I have often wished that St. Francis wrote about the interior life, something along the order of Teresa of Avila. Maybe this is not a guy thing. Even John of the Cross never mentioned his own personal experience, but wrote in general terms as though giving spiritual direction. Francis, on the other hand, was more a man of action, with the fruits of his life being the sign of his intense spiritual life and union with God. He was probably the first person to receive the stigmata since the Apostle Paul (if indeed Paul was so blessed). Yet it wasn't for him to detail his interior life. Better to follow the example he set forth in his Rule. It is as though Francis said; words of wisdom can inspire, but only deeds will save us and bring us to holiness. If you would follow me, do what I did; live the Rule as God wills you to live it.
Noted Franciscan Father Benedict Groeschel paints the portrait of Francis: the way of simplicity. He says that Franciscan spirituality is "very simple, very personal, and very devotional: related to personal individual prayer to Jesus Christ and Our Lady and their presence in our life. Like its founder, the beloved Francis of Assisi, Franciscan spirituality stresses personal devotion to Christ, particularly to Christ in His Incarnation (Christ Child), His Passion and death (Christ Crucified), and His presence in the Holy Eucharist (Christ in the Eucharist). It calls for an emphasis on simplicity, humility, care for the poor, affection for all creation, and love of life."
There is a remarkable similarity to the science of the Saints in their pursuit of holiness. I think we can glean some insight into the interior life of St. Francis from Mother Teresa, especially when it comes to personal devotion to Christ Crucified in His Passion and death. Here is a modern Saint who has written extensively about her love for Jesus. We can thank a number of people for preserving those "private" writings. Jesus said that when you pray, go and pray to your Father in secret, and your Father who sees in secret will reward you. As much as Mother Teresa tried to keep her interior prayer life secret, God apparently had other ideas. Her spiritual director(s) kept her writings even though she begged to have them destroyed. Thus we have a pretty complete record of the journey of this blessed soul.
As early as 1942, when she was 36 years old, a special relationship with Jesus began for Mother Teresa. She took a private vow: "Never refuse Jesus anything, under pain of mortal sin." This vow animated all her activities, and kept her going through the worst darkness, even her own "dark night of the soul." (Quotes from a talk on Mother Teresa by Fr. Andrew Cozzens)
Four years later, September 10, was "Inspiration Day." Jesus gave Mother Teresa a new mission. The words of Jesus on the Cross: "I Thirst," took on special meaning, and she had to give her life to satiating that thirst. She saw what Mother Cabrini did for girls in America. She wanted to do the same for girls in India: bring them to Jesus Christ. During the following years as she struggled to fulfill this inspiration amid all the turmoil of leaving the Sisters of Loreto, and get permission to start a new Order, she had several visions.
Children came to her and said: "Come and save us. Bring us to Jesus Christ." Our Blessed Mother told her: "Take care of them. Say the family rosary and all will be well." When she began to falter, Jesus said to her: "Will you refuse to do this for ME, to bring them to ME?" Well of course, she had no choice. She had made her vow, and would keep it. But as soon as she was on the streets of Calcutta, there began a kind of spiritual darkness, in which sensible consolation was taken away. She felt far from Jesus.
As time went on, this "absence of God" grew greater. She could say with John of the Cross what she was going through: "God comes so close, and is so bright I can't see anymore!" Through this preparation for union with God, she had to learn to "see in the dark!" Jesus could live His Life to the fullest in her. "I'm happy to be nobody, EVEN TO GOD! Accept whatever He gives: 'Not my will, but yours be done.' Our will is one thing Jesus doesn't have. Giving is only giving IF IT COSTS US SOMETHING."
Mother Teresa said that "Jesus is thirsting for love: in the poor, in families, the Eucharist, and in our hearts." She has inserted in the Constitutions of her Order that the Missionaries of Charity are to: "Satiate the thirst of Jesus Christ for love and for souls." Her witness is a powerful testimony in today's secular society of the importance of seeking God in order to satiate the thirst of Jesus for our love.
In 1959, at the funeral Mass for Pope Pius XII, for the first time in ten years she experienced the Presence of God. For one week. Then the darkness came back. But this time she "no longer wished the darkness away." By this time she had a different understanding of it. She was known for her smile, and her JOY, but inside was emptiness. She CHOSE to be happy and joyful. Mother Teresa taught her sisters this prayer: "Jesus in my heart, I believe in your tender love for me." We know that Jesus always looks for faith.
Eventually Mother could say: "Today I have great joy. Jesus can't go through His Passion anymore. He wants to go through it IN ME." So she found joy in suffering, in being close to Jesus IN HIS AGONY. She learned to LOVE THE DARKNESS. In this way, she could say with the Apostle Paul:
"Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake,
and in my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ's afflictions
for the sake of His Body, the Church.
That is the Church of which I became a minister
according to the divine office
which was given to me for you,
to MAKE THE WORD OF GOD FULLY KNOWN,
the mystery hidden for ages and generations
but now MADE MANIFEST IN HIS SAINTS."
Col. 1, 24.
His Saints have indeed discovered the mystery hidden for ages, and have shown us how to take the scourge of suffering and transform it into something beautiful for God. Mother Teresa learned to suffer with Jesus to save the world through His Church, and in every Christian soul: Jesus suffering in her, still saving souls, her suffering with Jesus to accomplish His Mission of Salvation. This union was so profound, that Mother Teresa said that those who were unable to live out the mystery of suffering in union with Jesus, were nothing more than Social Workers. "By being ONE with us, Jesus has redeemed us. By being ONE with the poor, we help redeem them. Not feed them, SAVE THEM!" By sharing Christ Crucified with the poor, she suffered with them to save them. She shared the very suffering of Jesus not in her body, but in HER HEART, something like an internal stigmata. She experienced His emptiness and abandonment, and began to love her darkness and suffering. In every chapel of every convent of the Missionaries of Charity around the world the words: "I THIRST" are found next to the crucifix.
One can only imagine the union with God that St. Francis experienced, for he not only had the wounds of Jesus in his heart, but in his body as well. St. Francis and Mother Teresa are good examples of what God can do through us WHEN WE GIVE HIM PERMISSION. When we give God a free hand, we will soon understand THE VALUE OF SUFFERING.
The "kiss of Jesus," Mother used to say, involves "pain AND intimacy. Take what He gives, and give what He takes with A BIG SMILE! Jesus wants to LIVE HIS LIFE IN ME, even suffer in me. True joy is to allow ourselves TO BE USED BY JESUS. The value of poverty is an interior freedom. We are not filled with the things of this world."
No one had more appreciation of poverty than the one who coined the term: "Lady Poverty!" And we all know the story of the "perfect joy" of St. Francis, he who was so perfectly USED BY JESUS! Following the path of these Saints, the way of simplicity, we too can pray:
"As a deer longs for running streams, SO MY SOUL LONGS FOR YOU, O GOD. My soul THIRSTS FOR GOD, for the LIVING GOD. When can I come and behold THE FACE OF GOD?" (Psalm 42)
Paul Beery BSP
Morning Star Chapter
MORNING STAR: NEWS ON THE ASSOCIATION
FR. TONY CIRIGNANI OFM
We had wonderful meeting with Father Anthony Cirignani OFM in March in Wisconsin. He is very excited to be associated with the BSP and hopes to be able to provide spiritual direction and guidance to the Association in the future.
Father Tony and Shelley Fahey
To order a Handbook simply send $15, cash, check, or money order, to BSP Headquarters, 20939 Quadrant Ave. N., Scandia, MN. 55073 and give us the address, or addresses, you want the Handbooks mailed to and we will have them sent there. You can order them via email too by sending a request to us at
It will be some time before these books are actually published as the Archdiocese, at the request of Archbishop John Nienstedt, is reviewing the Handbook before we publish it. The Handbook will be published as soon as this approval process is completed and we obtain a Nihil Obstat from the diocese meaning all is in order.
SKYPE is an Internet based telephone communications system that allows computer to computer, and computer to phone, based communications worldwide at a greatly reduced rate. We have purchased the system for use in the BSP as we recently announced on the BSP forums, and are up and running. SKYPE is helping us to communicate better worldwide. If you purchase a SKYPE system for your computer be sure to give us your SKYPE address as SKYPE to SKYPE calls are free worldwide. We just need to be on the computer at the same time and web-cams work with SKYPE.
BSP RETREAT 2009
Father Anthony Cirignani OFM, will be the retreat master at this years BSP retreat. It will be held as always at the beautiful and peaceful Franciscan Retreat Center at Prior Lake Minnesota, which is just outside Minneapolis. The schedule for the retreat will be posted as we get closer to the date. It will be held on the last weekend in July as usual which this year is July 24, 25 and 26.
We are blessed this year to have a profession at the retreat as in years past. Robin Gorton, Oklahoma, who first inquired into the BSP in February 2005, is completing her formation and will be making her profession to live the Rule of 1221, the Rule of the Brothers and Sisters of Penance of St. Francis, at the retreat. The BSP has some limited ability to help people come to the retreat due to a generous donor. If you need assistance to make it please contact BSP headquarters at
email@example.com or 651-433-2753.
Please put the date on your calendar and plan to come!
THE ADMONITIONS OF ST. FRANCIS
XXVIII. Virtue should be concealed or it will be lost
Blessed the religious who "treasures up for heaven" (cf. Mt. 6:20) the favours God has given him and does not want to show them off for what he can get out of them. God himself will reveal his works to whomsoever he pleases. Blessed the religious who keeps God's marvelous doings to himself.
Such are the wonderful Admonitions of St. Francis. They contain good advice for all Christians, and can be a real and sincere help to us all to draw close to the Lord and His Will for us in our day-to-day lives in the world. To grow spiritually we need only consider their message as it relates to our own lives among others. Then apply the principles and begin to put an ax to the old ways and grow in the new. This is conversion in the true sense of the word. Don't look back. Don't get discouraged. Take this sound advice of St. Francis and plow ahead knowing that "Blessed is that servant whom his master on arrival finds doing so." (Lk.12:43)
"Then go quickly and tell his disciples, 'He has been raised from the dead, and he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him.' Behold, I have told you."
By Luca Signorelli, "The Crucifixion with St. Mary Magdalen"
painted around 1500, now in Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence, Italy.
BROTHERS AND SISTERS OF PENANCE OF ST. FRANCIS
a.k.a. 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!