DESIRE IS THE KEY TO PRAYER…
All the messages of Our Lady to our modern world can be summed up in one word: Pray! She said: "Pray as much as you can. Pray how you can. Pray more and more." She then added "You can pray even for four hours a day. Even if you don't understand it is only one sixth of your day."
I meditated on this and understood that we must really pray all the time. I understood that when we pray sufficiently we acquire a desire for God, a continuous contact with God.
In another message Our Lady said: "When I tell you to pray, pray, pray you must not understand that to mean an increase in the number of prayers you say. I want to bring you to a deep desire for God. That you may always desire God."
Then I understood that to have a continuous desire for God means to pray. I remembered what Our Lady said once on Holy Thursday in answer to my question "Dear Mother, can you tell us how Jesus was able to pray for one whole day and night? What method did He use?" She replied: "He had a great desire for God and the salvation of souls.' Then I knew that prayer comes from a great desire for God and the salvation of souls. If you put yourself before God with this attitude of Our Lady you will realize the things that need to be changed in your family life and in your private life in order to acquire this desire for God.
Meditating on this, I discovered that we Christians are like sick people because we have lost our appetite for God. We have an appetite for eating and sleeping but we have to make a great effort to pray. Prayer has become an effort because the desire for God is lacking and He is not at the centre of our lives. In order to effect the conversion that Our Lady always calls us to we must progress so as to reach a prayer which is a desire for God.
After this was revealed to me I explained to parishioners how they could pray continuously. I told them that when they went into the fields, to pray as they went. After an hour's work, when they are tired, to get up and rest a while and to say: "Jesus, I want to rest in You; Jesus bless what I have done. This really is continuous prayer, a breath of God. Try to find contact with God all the time. Seek His blessing and give Him everything.
Our Lady wishes to bring about this attitude in us. It seems to me that, with this attitude to prayer, we will reach the point in which God will be the centre of our families and homes. It is my conviction that to put God at the centre of our lives is to put prayer at the centre of our lives, to desire God continuously and to discover the deepest values of Christianity.
It is through prayer that we realize this meeting with God.
(Father Tomislav Vlasic – May 1984)
Homily by Fr. Robert Altier - BSP Visitor
... DETACHMENT ...
Saint Paul tells us that we are not in the flesh; but rather, we are in the spirit (Rom. 8:9). He tells us that if we put to the death the work of the flesh, we are to live by the spirit because the One who raised Christ from the dead has given us His Spirit. Saint Paul talks very clearly about this dichotomy between the flesh and the spirit, the works of the spirit and the works of the flesh. Our society has wholeheartedly given itself over to the works of the flesh; everything is about pleasure, ease, comfort, all the little pleasantries, all the niceties, all the things of the world. It is all about what is going to make us more comfortable.
Now that goes just contrary to the ways of the Lord. That does not mean that everything that is going to bring some comfort is evil. Obviously, we need to eat and we need to sleep and we need to do things that are going to bring certain comforts to the body. But the problem is when our focus is the body; that is where we have gotten into trouble. Most people in this country, including most Catholics, have completely forgone the works of the spirit in order to focus almost solely on the works of the flesh. And by the works of the flesh, I am not talking about doing good things for other people to make their bodily existence more simple; I am talking about being selfish and totally self-focused to make our own lives more comfortable and easy.
When we look at the life of Jesus, we realize that is not at all the way He lived His life. He did not live a life in this world trying to seek more comfort for Himself. He could have done so; there were certainly people that were alive in His day that lived a very simple, easy life. But He did not try to live that way and, if that is the case, He is giving to each one of us an example of the way that we are to live our lives. It is a question of the priorities for each one of us. What really is most important to us?
If we are seeking to do the Will of God in our lives, then all we need to do is trust that He is going to provide for all the needs of the body. The Lord told us that in the Gospel reading. He said to us, for instance, "God feeds the sparrows and you are far, far more important than a sparrow. And the lily of the valley is arrayed in a glory that Solomon never even dreamed of; yet that springs up in the morning and withers in the evening. God provides for these beautiful little flowers; do you not think He will provide for you?" But it is hard for us because the difficulty comes down to trust. Do we really trust that the Lord is going to provide? Tragically, the answer is "no". We really do not believe that.
We realize that we do have our part to play. There is a heresy called "Quietism". The easiest way to understand it is simply: "I can just lay on my bed and do nothing. God loves me so much! He is going to take care of everything for me. I don't have to do a thing." The Church has condemned that outright. We have our part to do. The Lord told us in the Gospel reading that we are to take His yoke upon our shoulders and we are to learn from Him because He is meek and humble of heart.
But when we look at the works of the body as opposed to taking up the yoke of Christ and doing those things that are of the spirit, we need to see where they lead: They lead directly to division. When we do not get what we want, we tend to get angry, we tend to be jealous and envious, we tend to be argumentative, we tend to be divisive. We cause division because we do not get what we want. Somebody else seems to be getting what we want and we do not like it. And so what happens is that when we are slightly uncomfortable – when we are used to being very comfortable – we start becoming very irritable. We all know how that is. Try to fast on a certain day of the year. When lunchtime comes (and you have not eaten yet and the stomach is growling), you start feeling an interior tension. Soon you find yourself, by two or three in the afternoon, nipping at people, getting very impatient, arguing, and getting very frustrated with the people around you. That is why Our Lord told us that when we fast we are to groom and make sure we are not giving any exterior appearance. We are to have a smile on our face and treat people kindly. If we are going to do the works of the spirit, we need to carry them out all the way. The Lord even asks, "Is this the kind of fast that I desire? To drive the workers and to be argumentative?" No. What good is it going to do to be able to fast if on the other side of it you are sinning? That is not what the Lord is looking for. But we can see in that, in just one little example, how much the flesh is a problem for us. When we cannot even go for a few hours without eating and we start causing all kinds of problems and get very self-focused – and if you are like most people, the first thing you start to wonder is when you are going to eat and you start planning for it – you see how much the works of the flesh have taken over. And that is just one little example; we could go on and on and on with innumerable examples.
Look at our teenage kids. Try to tell them to take the headphones off and turn off the rock music - good luck! They are addicted to that filth and they cannot give it up. Even if you explain to them how bad this is for them and what it does to them, they do not care; they refuse to listen. They are addicted to stuff that is destroying their souls. As long as their little bodily needs are taken care of and they are getting the addictive "high" that the rock music gives to them, that is all they care about. And it is not just our teenage kids, because most of us who grew up in the '60's and the '70's are equally addicted to this trash music. Satan has had quite an influence on us.
Saint Paul tells us to put to death the works of the flesh – not give in to them, not jump off the high dive into the nonsense that we have addicted ourselves to – but put it to death to live the works of Jesus Christ. Take up the yoke of Christ. The prophet Zechariah, in the first reading, tells us what Christ is going to be like. He is meek. He is riding on a donkey; He is not riding on a horse. In fact, it says that He is going to banish the horse and the chariot. Horses were forbidden in ancient Israel, so were chariots; first of all, because they were implements of war; and secondly, because it would mean they would have to make a pact with the Egyptians for horses and with the Assyrians for chariots. That was forbidden by God. You do not make a pact with the enemy in order to be able to gain something for yourself.
Just take an inventory of your day to day life and ask yourself, "Where have we really made a pact with the enemy? Where are we doing things that really would be displeasing to Christ?" Now I am not suggesting that you are out committing mortal sins. That would be pretty obvious and the devil is not that stupid. He is not going to tempt you to great big, hideous, rotten things to be able to lead you right into mortal sin and wallow in the mire. But rather, what he does is very subtly put things in there. You can just look at how we live. We do things because they do not seem all that bad. We know they are not really the best thing; we know they are not really good; but they are not all that bad. At least compared to some of these other people, well, this is nothing! We are not out doing drugs; we are not out committing adultery; we are not out stealing and doing hideous, horrible, huge things; we are just doing more subtle things. But they are not the works of God; they are not the works that are inspired by the Holy Spirit. They are selfish and they are works of the flesh.
That is what Saint Paul is trying to tell us because he goes on to say that if you are in the flesh you will die. He is talking about eternal death. He is talking about not going to Heaven because you have given way to the works of the flesh. But if you are in the spirit, he says you will live by the spirit; you will have true life in this world and you will have life for eternity to come. Read the lives of the saints. You are not going to find that any of them gave themselves over to the ease and comfort of the worldly way. You are going to find that they gave that up so that they could find the true way. If we are into the body, we are not going to be able to recognize the movements of the Spirit within us. We cannot because we have blinded ourselves. But if we can give up all those things that lead us away from God, no matter how small and subtle they are, [we will].
Saint John of the Cross and Saint Therese both tell us the same thing. They talk about the soul wanting to soar to God and they liken it to a little bird. They say it does not matter if the bird is held down by a rope or by the tiniest little chain; if that chain is around the bird's foot, the bird cannot fly away. The same is true with us. It does not matter whether we are held bound by a huge mortal sin or whether the soul is held by a subtle thing that the devil has laid before for us; if it is not of God, we cannot take off. We are doing well, obviously; we can do a little bit more with just a small chain than we can with a huge rope. But nonetheless, the soul cannot leave the cage if we are hanging onto something which is not of God.
And so, it really comes down to the question of whom we wish to serve. It is not necessarily so obvious as to say, "Do we want to serve God or do we want to serve Satan?" The devil, again, is not that stupid to put that in front of us. It is a question of whether we want to serve God or serve ourselves, and we have to understand the implications: If we choose the self, we are choosing Satan. It is not that we are Satan; but rather, we are choosing the works of the flesh, we are choosing the ways of Satan, and we are choosing death. If, on the other hand, we put to death the works of the flesh then we can live for Christ. We can live according to the spirit; that is what the Lord wants for us, that is taking His yoke upon us.
When we read the lives of the saints and we think about the way they have taken up that yoke of Christ, we would look at it in our fleshly existence and we would say, "That doesn't look too easy. That doesn't look light. Look at what they do! Look at the way they live!" And yet, what we will find - if we follow the Lord and we are willing to do it His way - is that what He will ask of us is little detachments here and there. He is not asking you to give it up carte blanche and wholesale; He would not do that to you because it would leave you in total chaos. But He is asking you to go to prayer and to ask Him what it is that is in the way. What stands between you and Him? What needs to go? He will show you. He will start out with one thing, then, when you adjust to that, He will say, "Now this needs to go." And when you adjust to that, He will ask you to give up something else. And when you get used to that, then He will ask for something more. You adjust to it very naturally. His yoke is easy and His burden is light.
In fact, what you will find is that with each thing you think you cannot live without, when you give it up and you begin to live that detachment, you will suddenly notice that your life becomes much easier, much less burdened. Your soul is much more free to be able to do the things you really want to do. Then you look back and you wonder why you thought this thing was so important and that you could not give it up. Trust me on that. The Lord will show you and you will be much more joyful, much more peaceful. The Lord is saying, "Behold, your Savior. A just King is He, meek and riding on an ass." He is the one who dwells within you and He will banish from your heart all the implements of war, all the implements of division, all the points of selfishness. He will remove them so that you will be free to be at peace and to do the Will of God in all things. That is His desire for each one of us. The question is: Are we willing to do it? Are we willing to put to death the works of the flesh in order to be alive in the spirit for Jesus Christ?
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.
… DISCERNMENT …
"The Lord knows the thoughts and intentions of our hearts. Without a doubt, every one is known to Him, while we know only those which he lets us read by the grace of discernment."
(Baldwin of Canterbury, Bishop…)
We all have a responsibility to discern God's call to us. Unfortunately this is not easy. It takes an openness to God and His motion in our lives. His Providence and Presence. We need to actually believe He can do this. Guide us and therefore He must be present to us and aware of us.
The fact is He does that even if we don't believe He does it. He is God and only God knows exactly what God is about; what He is capable of and how He works. We can ponder it, but it is really incomprehensible to us. Beyond our reasoning. For that matter, beyond our dreams.
God knows our hearts Scripture says, and based on what is in our hearts rests our judgment. If we desire God, as is mentioned earlier in this newsletter in the writings of Father Vlasic, we are advancing in prayer, and God is in our hearts. Desire for God is the Fire of God in us. It is continuous prayer and covers all of our life. It is from the Holy Spirit, who will guide us deep into the Will of God. Silently but powerfully. In a true spirit of trust, which Jesus said was necessary to us. He said fear is useless; what is needed is trust.
Discernment is the key to living a penitential life always. Discernment leads to desire. Desire is the father of the thought, the thought is the father to the act. If we discern we want to live for Christ, and that the way of life that St. Francis gave us is a holy response to the Lord's call, what arises in us is the desire to become penitential and in that way to live the Gospel more generously. That desire takes the form of a thought and that thought will become factual if we act on it. We decide to make the life of penance the way we are going to live.
It is not that we will do it all so perfectly. That actually is not so important. What is important is that we are faithful to act on it. We are faithful to try to live a penitential life. Mother Theresa said once: "It is not necessary to be successful. We need to be faithful."
It is said that the Lord will not lose anyone who comes to Him; anyone who calls out to Him. The penitential life is a cry to God. A cry from our hearts that we want to live for Him. It is not measured in its success. It is measured in the intention. If our intentions are good the results will also be good. If we discern that we want to live for God, and do our best to do that, we will also be successful, for anyone who lives for God belongs to God.
So, we go on freely in our life discerning. What we want to do. What God wants us to do. WWJD, what would Jesus do? That is a good question to ask ourselves when in doubt. Offer a prayer to the Holy Spirit. Make a decision within that question and do it. Do the best we can.
In all things love God and neighbor, and trust in that love.
May the Lord bless and lead us all.
Bruce and Shelley Fahey BSP
The Administrators, Minnesota
From the Second Reading - Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
by Janet Klasson BSP
"I will rather boast most gladly of my weaknesses, in order that the power of Christ may dwell with me. Therefore, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and constraints, for the sake of Christ; for when I am weak, then I am strong." (2 Cor 12:9-10)
In 1886, Pope Leo XIII gave to the Church a great treasure in the form of the St. Michael prayer, with which we are all very familiar (and which I strongly suggest that you pray each day if you do not already do so). The Holy Father formulated the prayer in response to a vision he had in which Satan challenged Jesus in the following way:
Satan: "Given enough time and enough power and I can destroy your Church."
Jesus: "How much time and how much power?"
Satan: "One hundred years and a greater power over those who will give themselves to my service."
Jesus: "You have the time and you will have the power."
It is difficult to understand why our Lord would grant such a trial to his Church, but it undoubtedly holds a significance which echoes that of his own crucifixion—which those around him found equally difficult to understand.
What is not so difficult to understand and is indisputable is that we are now living in the times foreseen by the Pontiff more than 100 years ago. One does not have to imagine how this persecution will come about—forces of evil assail the church on every side, and from within. Faithful Catholics face increasing isolation even within the Church itself, and in secular society and the media they are often met with open, unmitigated hostility. Those who have given themselves to the service of the enemy of the Church are being employed in more sinister ways than ever before.
Yet, this is a time of great hope and anticipation, for the resurrection is near. Each of us has been chosen and equipped for this time. Having said that, I am well aware of my own inadequacy in the face of confrontation or persecution. My weakness is always before me. But St. Paul tells us that it is when we are weak that we are strong. The crucifixion of Jesus also gives us the same message of hope. I do not have to fight the enemy with conventional weapons. This is not a political battle, but a spiritual one, and I am on the winning side.
Pope Benedict the XVI made this statement in an Ash Wednesday address a couple of years ago: "Prayer, fasting, and penance are a Christian's weapons against hatred." It is no mystery, then, why the penitential lifestyle has been resurrected in this age. This ragtag army, so frail in many ways, is the army God has chosen to rout the foe. Led by his Mother, the Lord will cast down the mighty from their thrones and lift up the lowly. What a humiliation it will be when this Woman crushes the head of her enemy with her whittled-down army, girded with the lowliest of weapons. For, as our Lady of Fatima told the children, "In the end My Immaculate Heart will triumph."
Rejoice in the Lord, brothers and sisters! Just as it was at the time of the crucifixion, this is a time of great glory for the Church. Let us pray with renewed vigor for the courage and perseverance we need to live faithfully the call to prayer, fasting, and penance, and to courageously follow our Lord on the Way of the Cross.
Blessed Mother, St. Michael, Pope Leo XIII, St. Francis, and St. Clare, pray for us!
Janet Klasson BSP - Divine Mercy Chapter - Canada
Dear brothers and sisters I ask for your prayers as I embark on a new phase in my journey with the Lord. I am publishing a book based on my prayer journal.
Perhaps some of you have visited my blog - the Pelianito Journal
( www.pelianito.stblogs.com ).
I have been posting to the blog since 2003, and have remained somewhat hidden.
Now I feel the Lord calling me to become more public in my mission. In no small part because of the times we find ourselves in, I have felt the Lord calling me to publish some excerpts of my prayer journal into a book. The book has now been released and is called, Cling to Hope with Joy: Messages from Scripture. Here is the blurb from the back cover:
Cling to Hope with Joy: Messages from Scripture is a dialogue with the living God of Scripture. In these excerpts from the author's Scriptural prayer journal, the voice of God speaks to the reader's heart. Through words of love, hope, joy, encouragement, correction, and consolation the reader feels drawn into the heart of God, the Breath of Love. These powerful messages are intimate, profound, and prophetic. In these reflections, the Word becomes flesh once again and dwells among us. He is near and He brings a message for our time: Cling to hope with joy!
"His words in yours—yours carried by His."
Mark Mallett – singer, songwriter, and Catholic evangelist
Janet Klasson is a freelance writer and regular contributor to the newsletter of the Brothers and Sisters of Penance of St. Francis. In over eleven years of practicing prayerful Lectio Divina, she has come to know in a personal way the Word made flesh. By being open to the still, small voice of the Spirit, she has been given a pearl of great price—a collection of reflections and teachings that have helped her navigate through the treacherous waters of this age. Through a series of excerpts from the Pelianito Journal, readers are invited to draw near to the Beloved, who is "as near to you as your own breath". Come and see.
I will have a few copies at the retreat, but the book may also be ordered at www.lulu.com . Price is $10 US, plus shipping (shipping costs go down the more copies are ordered.) For orders in Canadian dollars to be shipped within Canada, an order form is available at www.goldleafword.com . There is a twelve-page preview on the Lulu site. You do not have to purchase a book to preview it.
The Lulu site also has an e-book version available for purchase for $5.00 US. I would ask that if you choose this option, to please respect copyright and not send the e-book to other people in your address book who have not purchased it. Making a single copy for your personal use, and even lending that single copy out, is fine. Remember that the proceeds go to support a retreat house with perpetual adoration, www.ephphathahouse.org .
Please pray for me and for this project. May God's will alone be done.
Janet Klasson, BSP
Divine Mercy Chapter, Canada
NO GREATER LOVE: by PAUL BEERY BSP - July 2009
"He was in the world, and through Him the world was made, yet the world did not know who He was. He came unto His own, yet His own did not accept Him. Any who did accept Him He empowered to become children of God. The Word became flesh, and we have seen His Glory." (John 1)
What would it be like to be cast upon a desert island completely alone? Daniel Defoe told us in his epic novel "Robinson Crusoe," first published in 1719. Of course, Robinson Crusoe was not alone, as he soon discovered. Following are extensive passages which highlight his – and our – search for the One who has brought us into being. Some life-giving lessons can only be learned when one is Alone with God.
"Through all the varieties of miseries that had already befallen me, I never had so much as one thought of it being the hand of God, or that it was a just punishment for the general course of my wicked life. I was merely thoughtless of a God, or providence, acted like a mere brute from the principles of nature, and by the dictates of common sense only, and indeed hardly that. I had no more sense of God or His judgments, much less of the present affliction of my circumstances being from His hand, than if I had been in the most prosperous condition of life.
But now when I began to be sick, and a leisurely view of the miseries of death came to place itself before me, when my spirits began to sink under the burden of a strong distemper, and nature was exhausted with the violence of the fever, conscience, that had slept so long, begun to awake, and I began to reproach myself with my past life, in which I had so evidently, by uncommon wickedness, provoked the justice of God to lay me under uncommon strokes, and to deal with me in so vindictive a manner.
These reflections oppressed me, the dreadful reproaches of my conscience, extorted some words from me, like praying to God, though I cannot say they were either a prayer attended with desires or hopes; it was rather the voice of mere fright and distress: 'Lord! What a miserable creature am I? If I should be sick, I shall certainly die for want of help, and what will become of me!' Then the tears burst from my eyes, and I could say no more for a good while. My dear father's words had come to pass: God's justice has overtaken me, and I have none to hear or help me. I rejected the voice of Providence, which had mercifully put me in a station of life wherein I might be happy. But I left it to mourn over my folly, and now I am left to mourn over the consequences of it, difficulties to struggle with, too great for nature itself to support, and no assistance, no help, no comfort, no advice. Then I cried out, 'Lord be my help, for I am in great distress.' This was the first prayer, if I may call it so, that I had made for many years.
I sat down upon the ground, looking out upon the sea which was just before me, very calm and smooth. What is this earth and sea of which I have seen so much? Whence is it produced? And what am I and all the other creatures, whence are we? Sure we are made by some secret power, who formed the earth and sea, the air and sky; and who is that? Then it followed most naturally. It is God that has made it all. Well, but then it came on strangely: if God has made all these things, He guides and governs them all, and all things that concern them; for the power that could make all things must certainly have power to guide and direct them. If so, nothing can happen in the great circuit of His works, either without His knowledge or appointment. And if nothing happens without His knowledge, He knows that I am here, and am in this dreadful condition; and if nothing happens without His appointment, He has appointed all this to befall me.
I could not contradict any of these conclusions, and therefore it rested upon me with greater force that God had appointed all this to befall me; that I was brought to this miserable circumstance by His direction, He having the sole power not of me only, but of every thing that happened in the world. Immediately it followed: why has God done this to me? What have I done to be thus used? My conscience presently checked me in that inquiry, as if I had blasphemed, and spoke to me like a voice: 'WRETCH! Do you ask what you have done? Look back upon a dreadful mis-spent life, and ask what you have NOT done. Why is it you were not long ago destroyed?' And you ask, 'What have I done?'
I was struck dumb by these reflections, and had not a word to say. I took up the Bible, and only having casually opened the book, the first words that occurred to me were these: 'Call on me in the day of trouble, and I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me.' I began to say, 'Can God Himself deliver me from this place?' I mused upon these words very often. Before I lay down, I did what I had never done in all my life: I knelt down and prayed to God to fulfill the promise to me. It occurred to my mind that I pored so much upon my deliverance from the main affliction, that I disregarded the deliverance I had received! Had I not been wonderfully delivered from shipwreck, from sickness, from the most frightful condition that could be? And what notice had I taken of it? Had I done my part? God had delivered me, but I had not owned and been thankful for that deliverance, and had not glorified Him. How then could I expect greater deliverance? This touched my heart very much, and immediately I knelt down and gave God thanks aloud for my recovery from my sickness.
Having been on the island for two years, and no more prospect of being delivered than the first day I came there, I spent the whole day in humble and thankful acknowledgements of the many wonderful mercies which my solitary condition was attended with, and without which it might have been infinitely more miserable. I gave humble and hearty thanks that God had been pleased to discover to me, even that it was possible I might be more happy in this solitary condition, than I should have been in a liberty of society, and in all the pleasures of the world; that He could fully make up to me the deficiencies of my solitary state, and the want of humane society, by His Presence and the communications of His grace to my soul, supporting, comforting, and encouraging me to depend upon His providence here, and hope for His eternal Presence hereafter. It was not that I began sensibly to feel how much more happy this life I now led was, than the wicked, cursed, abominable life I led all the past part of my days; and now I changed both my sorrows and my joys; my very desires altered, my affections changed their gusts, and my delights were perfectly new from what they were at my first coming, indeed for the past two years.
Before, as I walked about, the anguish of my soul at my condition would break out upon me on a sudden, and my very heart would die within me, to think how I was a prisoner, locked up with the eternal bars and bolts of the ocean, in an uninhabited wilderness, without redemption. In the midst of the greatest composures of my mind, this would break out upon me like a storm, and make me wring my hands and weep like a child, and the grief having exhausted itself would abate.
But now I began to exercise myself with new thoughts. I opened the Bible upon these words, 'I will never, never leave thee, nor forsake thee;' immediately it occurred that these words were to me; why else should they be directed in such a manner, just at the moment when I was mourning over my condition, as one forsaken of God and man? Well then, said I, if God does not forsake me, of what ill consequence can it be, though all the world should forsake me, seeing, on the other hand, if I had all the world, and should lose the favor and blessing of God, there would be no comparison in the loss? From this moment I began to conclude in my mind that it was possible for me to be more happy in this forsaken, solitary condition than it was probable I should ever have been in any other particular state in the world, and with this thought I was going to give thanks to God for bringing me to this place. But something shocked my mind at that thought, and I dared not speak the words: 'How can you be such a hypocrite, to pretend to be thankful for a condition which you have prayed heartily to be delivered from?' So I stopped there; for though I could not say I thanked God for being there, yet I sincerely gave thanks to God for opening my eyes, by whatever afflicting providences, to see the former condition of my life, and to mourn for my wickedness, and repent."
It was easy to relate to this story. Who of us does not wrestle with the divine plan as Robinson Crusoe did, and our place in it? Jesus asks each of us personally: "And who do YOU say the Son of Man is?" The answer comes in solitary reflection and prayer. Our annual retreat is upon us, a perfect time to be Alone with God, and to see His Glory. To be instruments of peace in imitation of our holy father St. Francis, we must first make peace with God in the depths of our heart. We are called to greatness, yet are saddled with a fallen human nature that never lets us rest, pulled back and forth in a seemingly endless tug of war. "Be kind, for everyone you meet is engaged in a great spiritual battle." (Philo of Alexandria)
Paul Beery BSP - Morning Star Chapter - Minnesota
The 'Womb' of This World by Lisa Drago BSP
Twice in my recent reading and exploring (a Peter Kreeft audio titled "Making Sense of Suffering;" an article on Catholic Exchange titled "Life After Birth") I have come across the very intriguing idea that this created world in which we live is a kind of womb preparing us for everlasting life in heaven. Just as our life within our mother's womb was a time of growth, maturation and preparation for life on earth, our life within God's created world is meant to help us grow toward union with God in our heavenly homeland. Just as our small dwelling place within the womb eventually opened us out into the larger world, this world will open us into eternity where time and space cease to exist.
I shared these ideas with my daughter. She's 12. As usual, not only did she understand this perfectly, she was even one step ahead. She said: "Cool! It's like in the womb, we are attached to our mother, we are dependent on her, but we don't see her until we are born. In this life, we learn to love God, we are dependent on Him, but we don't see Him until we get to heaven." Yep, very true!
For the infant in the womb, many things about his life do not make sense: Why does he have feet? Why does he have lungs? Eyes? These things only prove useful to him after he is born into the world. Likewise, in this life, the purpose of many things can be difficult to understand. Chief among these things would be the suffering we must endure, the crosses we must carry. What is their purpose?.... To make us more like Christ, our Savior. To make us more perfect in self-denial, love of God and love of neighbor. To prepare us to meet our loving God who always gives us what is best for us. Of course, we cannot understand this completely in this life. It will only make sense when we see our God face to face. We can only continue the journey in faith and hope, trusting in the goodness of our God who loves us even unto death.
MORNING STAR: NEWS ON THE ASSOCIATION
RETREAT 2009 …NOTHING NEW TO REPORT
The retreat is taking shape. Father Tony will be the retreat master this year and the subject will be: "Franciscan spirituality and our call to be Instruments of Peace"
Right now we are booking reservations. The schedule for the retreat will be published a couple of weeks before the retreat. The announcement following is a parish bulletin announcement for those who would like to publicize the retreat. The cost of the retreat is $180 again this year as last year, which includes room, meals, and necessary stipends. It will be held at the beautiful Franciscan Retreats center in Minneapolis. Call or email us now to book a reservation. A down-payment of $25 will hold your place. The full cost of the retreat must be paid by July 1st as we must guarantee attendance then and pay for those we guarantee even if they do not show.
Robin Gorton BSP, from Oklahoma, will make her profession at the retreat this year, to Father Tony. Please keep her in prayer. She will be our 29th professed member.
INVITATION TO THE PUBLIC
2009 RETREAT OPPORTUNITY
THE BROTHERS AND SISTERS OF PENANCE OF ST. FRANCIS (BSP)
"Franciscan spirituality and our call to be Instruments of Peace"
Father Anthony Cirignani OFM
We invite you to share our Retreat this year at the Franciscan Retreat Center in Prior lake, Minnesota.
The retreat will run from Friday evening, July 24th to Sunday noon, July 26th.
We will celebrate Mass on both Saturday and Sunday.
There will be ample opportunity for spiritual direction, adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, reconciliation, and silence, during the retreat. The total fee for the retreat is $180, and this includes room, board, meals and stipends. Each retreatant will have their own room and spouses may request adjoining and connected rooms if they like.
If you are interested in attending the retreat please send a $25, non-refundable, down-payment to the BSP, c/o Bruce and Shelley Fahey, at 20939 Quadrant Ave. N, Scandia, MN 55073, PH: 651-433-2753, email:
firstname.lastname@example.org, to reserve a place. You can also notify us via email of your intent to attend the retreat at email@example.com.
If you would like to know about our Association please see our web site at: www.bspenance.org. This retreat is not a promotion for the Brothers and Sisters of Penance, but is a sincere opportunity to share your time with the Lord.
May God bless you and guide you in your journey home!
Bruce and Shelley Fahey BSP
Nothing new to report. Archbishop Nienstedt desired to look at the Handbook before it was published. It is still in the hands of the Censor Liborum, i.e. Censor of Books, for the Archdiocese. Once he edits it the Archbishop will review it for final publication. After that it will be available for publication. Sorry for the delay.
GERMAN WEB PAGE FOR THE BSP:
We are delighted to report that we now have a German Web page at: www.poenitenten.com
It was created by Martin Wolter BSP of Moosach, Germany over the past several months. He translated key documents from the English Web Page to German! If you know German you will be able to read it. Thank you Martin!
A LETTER FROM MARTIN: RECEIVED MAY 17, 2009 – BSP Headquarters - Scandia
Dear Brother Bruce & Sister Shelley,
This Sunday our German Webpage of the Association is under the following
address www.poenitenten.com available. Also a direct, integrated link to www.bspenance.org is via the contact-page possible.
I know it has been a very long time since I have written - I'm so sorry for it, of course. But all work was only done in my free time without any help – pardon - that's not correct, I got help in the prayers from you and by the Holy Spirit through our Lord in heaven. Now the work of the Association in Germany will become more productive - for that I am still praying and hope.
My best wishes to all the brothers and sisters near you and the whole association.
You're in my heart and soul as my spiritual family given through our Lord and Father.
Pardon - that's a heavenly sign.... You won't believe it, in this moment of writing I had a look out my open window in my room - a young butterfly was flying into the room and that gives me the message ... you know - God the Father knows everything and sacred is this work - I believe - I could start crying by happiness...
God bless, you're always on my mind !
I will try to send you now every week a letter - I'll promise!
Please forgive me my long time silence.
Pace e bene
Your little Brother in Christ
"But you are not in the flesh; on the contrary, you are in the spirit, if only the Spirit of God dwells in you. Whoever does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him."
The Good Samaritan, by Van Gogh, painted in 1890, now hosted in the Museum at Otterlo, Nederlands
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!