'FOLLOW ME!'
Luke 9:23

Monthly Newsletter of

The BROTHERS AND SISTERS OF PENANCE

Butterfly Symbol of the BSP of Saint Francis

of
          St. Francis

November 2009

BONAVENTURE AND HIS LESSONS ON ST. FRANCIS:

VII - Those who were cured of various diseases

St Francis

Lesson 1

At Citta della Pieve there was a boy who was a beggar and had been deaf and dumb since his birth. His tongue was so short and slender that those who had examined it were inclined to think that it had been almost completely cut out. A man named Mark took him into his home for the love of God; and when he realized that he had found a benefactor, the boy often stayed with him. One evening when Mark was having supper with his wife and the boy was there, he remarked to his wife, "I think it would be a great miracle if St. Francis gave him back his hearing and his speech." And he continued, "I promise God solemnly that if St. Francis is so good as to do that, I will pay this boy’s expenses as long as he lives." There and then the boy’s tongue grew and he spoke saying, "Glory be to God and St. Francis. He has given me back my speech and my hearing."

Lesson 2
Brother James of Iseo suffered a bad hernia while he was still a boy living in his father’s house. Notwithstanding his youth and his infirmity, he was inspired by the Holy Spirit to join the Order of St. Francis, but he never told anyone about his injury. When the body of St. Francis was being transferred to the church where his remains are now kept like a precious treasure, Brother James took part in the celebration, paying due honor to the sacred relics of the saint who had been glorified in heaven. There he approached the tomb and embraced it devoutly. Immediately all his organs were restored to their proper position and he felt that he was healed. He laid aside the truss he had been wearing and never felt any pain after that. Brother Bartholomew of Gubbio, Brother Angelus of Todi, Father Nicholas of Ceccano, John of Sora, a man from Pisa, and another from Cisterna, Peter from Sicily, and a man from Spello near Assisi, together with many others, were miraculously cured of similar ailments by the mercy of God and intercession of St. Francis.

Lesson 3
A woman from the Marittima who had suffered from mental illness for five years had lost her sight and hearing. She used to tear her clothes with her teeth and had not the slightest fear of fire or water; to crown it all she eventually developed epilepsy. Then God took pity on her and one night she was miraculously enlightened by his saving light and saw St. Francis sitting on a high throne. She threw herself on the ground before him and begged him to cure her. As he gave no sign of granting her petition, she made a vow, promising that as long as she could she would never refuse alms to anyone who asked her for the love of God or his saint. St. Francis immediately remembered the pact he himself had made with God so long ago, and he blessed her with the sign of the Cross, restoring her to perfect health. It has also been stated that a girl from Norcia, as well as the son of a nobleman and a number of others, were delivered from a similar affliction by the saint.

Bruce Fahey and Shelley, his wife, BSP Administrators
ADMINISTRATOR'S MESSAGE: … To be a saint

Everyone who wishes to spend eternity with God must become a saint. There is no other way. If you wish to get to heaven then you, too, must become a saint.

Obviously you have been born already. You are renowned for certain aspects of your life and need to work on others, like everyone else ever born. You have experienced and developed certain gifts of the Holy Spirit consistent with your baptismal promises, recognizing that "there are different gifts but the same Spirit" (1 Cor 12:4). Some you still have to work on, but then, it is "the same God who accomplishes all of them in everyone." (1 Cor 12:6) Through the spiritual exercises of the First Rule of the Third Order of St. Francis of 1221 in conjunction with your sincere effort to live the Gospel you have, or will, become "mature in spirit" (1 Cor 2:6).

You may be a lay person. You strive to be simple, humble and "poor in spirit" (Matt 5:3), though you are rich in means by the grace and goodness of God and live at the beginning of the twenty-first century in a wealthy nation. You may be involved in your normal parish community. You may live in an average Christian family and raise your children to love God and neighbor, and you make a practice of regular personal and family prayer and reading of Scripture.

Though you spend generous amounts of time in prayer, work, and dedication to the things of God, "you say to yourself that you are a worthless servant." (Lk 17:10) so as to constantly strive for new beginnings. From it you are hopeful that "there are in the end three things that last: faith, hope, and love, and the greatest of these is love." (1 Cor 12:13) You "pray constantly" (Rom 12:12) so as to live in union with God, for "God is love, and he who abides in love, abides in God, and God in him." (1 Jn 4:16).

You might live and work in Wherever, USA. You make a living wage, but commit a regular portion of it to Christ and his poor. You regularly give to "all who beg from you" (Lk 6:30). You frequent the sacraments of Reconciliation and Holy Eucharist, often crying out to the Lord, "Jesus, son of David, have mercy on me!" (Mk 10:47) and recognize that if the Church "forgives men’s sins they will be forgiven them". (Jn 20:23) You, through your love of the Eucharist, "ate the flesh of the Son of Man and drank His blood." (Jn 6:54). You neither "condemn" nor "judge" anyone (Matt 7:12), and strive to "love your enemies and do good to those that hate you".(Lk 7:27) As a practice, when you are "insulted you return no insult". (1 Pet 2:21-23) You may belong to a prayer group in your own parish, which meets weekly, "rejoicing in hope, and persevering in prayer" (Rom 12:12). You believe in this.

It is unknown as of this writing what your life really will look like when you die. Unknown also is the nature of your apostolate though you recognize that "there are different ministries, but the same Lord" ( 1 Cor 12:5), and you are pondering what you have to give. What is known is that you have made a commitment to Christ to seek personal holiness. You have chosen the Franciscan Order as a means to focus your spiritual energies, and the First Rule of the Third Order of St. Francis of 1221 as your way of living the Gospel. You are quick to realize that "A student is not above their teacher; but every student when they have finished their studies will be on a par with their teacher" (Lk 6:40). The Gospel and the Rule of 1221 outline your "studies". You hope to be approved by your teacher, Jesus Christ, at the last judgment. You feel the Rule is a gift from Him.

In your life you sincerely strive in all things to be perfectly conformed to the demands of the Catholic Church. You obey the Magesterium and all that the Church asks of you. You joyfully "deny your very self" (Lk 9:23). You hope to become an exemplary witness to the Lord, the "salt of the earth" (Matt 5:13), one who "walks in light" (1 Jn 1:7)) and is "leaven in the bread" (Matt 13:33) of many lives. You are joyful in all things.

You have not died yet and will probably never be canonized by the Church on earth. Your hope is to be canonized by Jesus at death, because you lead a life of "faith in the Son of God" (Gal 2:20). Your many acts of love, especially of giving so many children "a glass of cold water." (Matt 10:42), your humility in making yourself a "servant of all." (Mk 9:35), your love of the Church, and care of its priests, prophets, and people in whom you sincerely "welcomed Christ" you hope will bring you to a "prophet’s reward" (Matt 10:41) for you sincerely believe in the Lord and his promises. The fact that you did "put your hand to the plow without looking back." (Lk 9:62), "were insulted because you believed in Jesus" (Matt. 5:11), and "accepted the reign of God like a little child" (Mk 10: 15), you hope has prepared you well to "shine like the sun in your Father’s kingdom." (Matt. 13:43).

Few in this world will ever know you, though you were profoundly blessed because you "put first the Kingdom of God." (Lk 12:31) However, it is easiest to know You because you pursue Christ, and you obviously recognize that "narrow is the path that leads to life." (Matt 7:13). Saint You, I am sure you hope and can see, can be anyone that follows Christ! Begin by having "no love for the world or what the world affords." (1 John 2:15), "take up your cross and follow in the steps of Jesus" (Mk 8:34), "taking nothing for the journey." (Matt. 10:9,10) that is not necessary, after the manner and according to the wishes of his servant, St. Francis of Assisi. Be in the world, for you are in the world, but not of it, for Christ. Become a brother or sister of penance, for the love of God!

Saint You, please pray for us, and have a happy Thanksgiving and may we all remember to give thanks to God for all of the gifts and blessings he has bestowed on each of us!

Bruce and Shelley Fahey BSP
Administrators, Minnesota

Father Robert Altier
VISITOR'S MESSAGE:

Homily by Fr. Robert Altier

Feast of All Saints

Today as we gather to celebrate the glorious feast of all the saints who are in Heaven, we have another element in our society who gathers this evening as well and they are celebrating just the opposite. The Satanists, we must understand, operate on a sanctoral calendar which is identical to that of the Catholic Church, and their celebrations are identical to that of the Catholic Church except exactly opposite. And so today they would be celebrating all the souls who have descended into hell and they will be rejoicing abundantly that such souls have done these unfortunate things. Worse than that, they are going to desecrate Our Lord this evening and that is the purpose for our gathering here: to pray in reparation for the crimes against the Eucharist that will occur this evening. Because of all the young ears – and thanks be to God for all the young people who are here today – we will not go into what they will do to Our Lord; all you need to do is let your imagination run. Any despicable, disgusting thing that you can think of to do to the Eucharist is what they will be doing this evening, except that they also will have a Catholic priest who has apostatized and he will offer the Mass. So we need to pray, and we need to pray hard for this.

But at the same time, we need to be able to recognize, as I oftentimes point out, that this is the greatest negative proof for the True Presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist. The Satanists will not get a Lutheran minister. They will not get an Anglican priest. They will not get any kind of Baptist or Fundamentalist or anybody else to perform their unfortunate services. If they do not have a Catholic priest, they will break into a Catholic Church and they will steal the Eucharist out of the tabernacle. They will not do that in any other church because they know that Jesus Christ is present in only one place, and that is in the Eucharist in the Catholic Church. So they are absolutely, wholeheartedly, unflinchingly convinced of the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist.

The problem the Satanists suffer from is the delusion that there are two gods - an evil god and a good god - and that they are equal; and that the evil god and the good god are in a battle against one another and the evil god is going to win. The devil simply points to what is going on in the world and says, "Look! It’s pretty obvious isn’t it? I’ve got the upper hand! I’m the one in control and you are going to be a victorious army with me in hell." And they all buy the lie. They do not recognize that God is the Creator and Satan is a creature, and that God is infinitely more powerful than Satan. Satan, in fact, was thrown out of Heaven by someone who is a lower-level angel than what he is. In his arrogance, he does not acknowledge that and his followers do not. And so his followers, believing that there are these two gods who are somehow close to equal but the evil god is slightly more powerful than the good god, will therefore steal the Eucharist because they know that this is the good God. They will desecrate the Eucharist to demonstrate their power and the power of their evil master over the good God.

So what we need to do is recognize this incredible love of Our Lord to not only humble Himself to come to us in the Blessed Sacrament, but to allow Himself even to be desecrated because He loves us that much. He allows Himself to be completely vulnerable in the Blessed Sacrament. He allows Himself to be there 24 hours a day in a completely passive manner. He does not force us to believe in Him. He does not force us to come to Him in prayer. He does not force us to make any kind of act of devotion toward Him. He simply invites us silently and passively. He puts into our hearts the faith that He is truly present there, and He puts into our hearts the love of Our Lord, truly Present there before us. And He asks us simply that out of faith and love for Him that we would worship Him in the Blessed Sacrament. That act of love, that act of worship on our part is worth so much more to Our Lord than any evil that can be done to Him that He allows Himself even to be desecrated because it is worth it to Him that you and I would come to Him and we would pray before Him, that we would love Him, that we would offer ourselves in His service. It is for that reason that He allows Himself even to be used, even to be violated, even to be received sacrilegiously, or even to be desecrated by those who worship Satan.

We have to understand, that our battle is not against the rulers of this world but against principalities and powers of darkness, the principalities and powers of the heavenly places. Our battle is a spiritual battle and it is one that is coming very quickly to a head. In the last several years, Satanism – Wicca, in particular – has become one of the fastest growing religions in America. Several years ago when I gave a homily, there were 200,000 registered witches in America. I read an article yesterday that said there are 600,000 today – 600,000 registered witches in America! Now those are just the ones who have taken the time to register. There are lots of dedicated Satanists who are not necessarily witches or Satanic priests. There are lots of others who are just simply on their own doing evil things.

And so we need to understand that this is the battle that we have to be about. We Catholics cannot sit back any longer and simply think that it is no big deal. We can come to Mass on Sunday and we can go home (isn’t that great?) while the battle rages and we do not even have a clue that it is happening! It is about time we enter into the battle because, as we heard in the first reading, the saints whom we celebrate today are the ones who are clothed in white with a palm branch in their hand because they are the ones who have survived the period of great trial. They entered into the battle. They died to themselves and they have the palm branch of martyrdom in their hand. Whether they were physically martyrs or just spiritually so, it did not matter; these are people who believed in the Real Presence of Jesus and they were willing to stand up and fight for Him.

Now we do not need to necessarily hunt down the Satanists and see if we can destroy what they are doing; but rather, the way we fight for Jesus is in prayer. We need to unite ourselves with all of the saints and we need to pray. We need to be willing to suffer with Our Lord and we need to be willing to offer those sufferings so that He can use that to bring about the conversion of these unfortunate souls who have fallen away or who have never heard of Him or who hate Him. What we need is not to fight fire with fire. Remember that when James and John wanted to call fire down from Heaven to destroy the people who did not believe in Jesus, Our Lord rebuked them and He gave them the name Boanerges "The Sons of Thunder" because of their wrath. Jesus simply prayed for those people.

And so it is today. He does not want those people to go to hell. He does not want them to be condemned. He wants their conversion. He wants them to stop their evil. And He needs us to pray for them because He is being desecrated this evening. But there is no suffering in the Eucharist. The suffering must take place in the Mystical Body, and we must offer that suffering along with Him to our heavenly Father so all of the desecrations that happen this evening, that God in His mercy can turn those around and in His love He can touch the hearts of some of those unfortunate souls who are there to take part in this despicable act and that He can convert them and bring them to the truth because He Himself is that truth who allows Himself even to enter into a Satanic Black Mass with the hope that maybe some of those souls will be converted.

We need to look at how much Our Lord loves those souls and we can meditate upon how much, then, He must love our souls. And we must make that act of love following from that act of faith in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. We need to commit ourselves to striving to be saints. As we celebrate this glorious Feast of All Saints, we need to recognize that what God needs more today than anything is saints. As I have oftentimes pointed out from the pulpit, we do not need any more mediocre Catholics; we have way more than what we need. God needs saints and He needs them desperately. He wants you to be a saint. He baptized you into His Son, and He called you to holiness. But again, he will not force you to be holy. He will not force you against your will to love Him; that has to be your choice. When you see how much He loves you, He is simply asking that in return we would love Him.

He is calling each one of us to radical holiness, to great love for Our Lord. Each one of us, then, has to have the freedom to respond. As we celebrate all of those who have gone before us and have lived the faith that they professed, they give to us the courage and the hope that we too will be able to do the same: to offer ourselves for Our Lord and to offer our sufferings in union with Our Lord so that we will be able to enter more deeply into prayer, more deeply into union with Jesus Christ, and truly become the saints that God desires for each one of us to be.

* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.

Janet Klasson
A meditation
From the First Reading, Solemnity of All Saints
by Janet Klasson BSP

Then I saw another angel come up from the East, holding the seal of the living God. He cried out in a loud voice to the four angels who were given power to damage the land and the sea, "Do not damage the land or the sea or the trees until we put the seal on the foreheads of the servants of our God." (Revelation 7: 2-3)

We hear a great deal about angels these days. Much of what we hear is straight from New Age sources. It is a tactic of the enemy to take what belongs to the deposit of the faith and twist it in order to confuse those whose catechesis may be wanting, or whose faith may be wavering. As the enemy is himself a fallen angel, he knows what he has to fear from those angels who chose to align themselves with the living and true God. He knows what a powerful ally we humans have in angels, and will do anything to stop us from collaborating with them in a fruitful way.

It seems we need our angels more than ever. As powerful allies, they have a crucial role to play in the cataclysmic events that are unfolding daily before our eyes. St. Bernard of Clairvaux encourages great confidence in our holy companions:

"Even though we are children and have a long, a very long and dangerous way to go, with such protectors what have we to fear? They who keep us in all our ways cannot be overpowered or led astray, much less lead us astray. They are loyal, prudent, powerful. Why then are we afraid? We have only to follow them, stay close to them, and we shall dwell under the protection of God’s heaven."
Beyond being our personal companions, however, angels are given charge over much, much more. St. John Damascus wrote: "Angels are the guardians of the divisions of the earth; they are set over nations and regions allotted to them by their Creator."

Praise be to God for this incalculable gift! However, as with all God's gifts, it is subject to human freedom. How many souls today do you suppose are asking angels to intercede and intervene on behalf of our parishes, cities, countries? Angels have perfect clarity of vision, unbiased and unclouded. They are able to influence souls and change history. Let us not forget to enlist their help, and to beg God to give them the freedom to act on our behalf for the sake of the souls he died to save.

The following is a prayer sent out by CatholiCity in response to the latest attacks on life in the United States. I felt it was very powerful and wanted to pass it on.
"Dear Father in Heaven, we have failed you. We have not prayed enough, sacrificed enough, paid enough attention, fasted enough, or worked hard enough to end the scourge of abortion in our country and our world, and now we face being forced to provide, pay for, and support abortions in Your hospitals. Look not on our sins and failings, O Lord, but on the faith You provided us during our baptisms, when we ourselves were most vulnerable. Like the Good Thief, we admit our failures, yet we cannot take our eyes away from Your Son on the Cross, and with the encouragement of our bishops call to action this very week, we beg You to unleash Your Most Powerful Angels and give them the greatest possible leeway and authority to change the course of human history in the United States and the world so that it cannot unfold except in perfect accord to Your Divine Will. Unleash them! Unleash your Angels, O Lord, we beg You! Amen."
The prayer mentions fasting in addition to prayer. As we move into our pre-Christmas period of fasting, let us keep in the forefront of our hearts and our prayers the pro-life intentions of the Church. In Canada we were unable to stop the juggernaut of death called abortion. May God grant that it become possible to stop it in the U.S. For nothing is impossible for God. Holy Angels, pray for us.

Janet Klasson BSP - Divine Mercy Chapter - Canada


From the Pelianito blog (www.pelianito.stblogs.com) October 12, 2009:

Haggai 2:9 Greater will be the future glory of this house than the former, says the LORD of hosts; and in this place I will give you peace, says the LORD of hosts.

"Peace, my child, my peace I give you. Not as the world gives, for peace is not of this world but springs from the fount of life and love. The Culture of Death cannot bring peace, but only discord. My child, the battle lines are being drawn: on one side life, peace, hope; on the other side death, discord, despair. Choose today which side you will serve. I put before you life and death. Choose life!"

My Jesus I trust in you alone. Help us Lord! We are weak, but in you we are strong. Give us the courage to defend life at all times. May the safe refuge of the Immaculate Heart surround and protect us as we take up the arms of life and love. Jesus in Mary we trust in you!

Paul Beery
NO GREATER LOVE:
by PAUL BEERY BSP - November 2009

"The Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of Him to every town and place where He was about to go… The seventy two returned with joy and said: ‘Lord, even the demons submit to us in your Name!'" (Luke 10)

In commenting on this passage, our local pastor talked about something we don’t often think about, the interaction between Jesus and His disciples. "The seventy two returned with joy…" There was a joyous atmosphere, a time where the disciples actually experienced the satisfaction of fulfilling the Good News: "IT WORKED!" We can just see them saying that to each other. It’s not often we see this response. Most of the time the disciples just don’t get it, don’t understand what Jesus is actually asking of them. Even Peter is told: "Get behind Me, Satan. You are not judging by God’s standards, but by man’s."

This insight is so refreshing. So often our personal interaction with Jesus concerns an expression of sorrow for sin, or a request for true contrition and a firm purpose of amendment, or some favor. We express our love for Him, but don’t seem to spend much time sharing our joy with the Lord.

Speaking for myself, I find that the Gospel is serious business. It’s about life and death. ETERNAL life and death. We have one chance to get it right, to pass the ultimate test. Look how much students study to pass their school tests, often just for a good grade, in order to get a piece of paper saying they studied hard enough to get a piece of paper. Hopefully that will lead to an actual job dealing with the material that was studied.

But in relation to the gospel, we study not for a job, not for some particular need, not to feel good about ourselves. We study hard to learn how to live our entire lives according to the will of God. There’s no part of our life the will of God does not touch. If we are serious, we have no time off for good behavior. No time to relax on some plateau, having reached a certain personal comfort level. We are always striving for the holiness to which God calls us. Some religious even add a vow to always strive for perfection. It seems there isn’t time to celebrate with joy our growth in virtue aided by the grace of God. Even the greatest Saints feel they have failed to pass the test! They rather consider themselves the worst of sinners. If the Saints feel that way, how should we feel?

The disciples rejoiced that they had power over their greatest enemy, the demons. They are not our only enemy. Sometimes we are our own worst enemy. And then our neighbors show us how not to live. We are negatively influenced by all three. "Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil." Our fallen human nature gives us fits, as St. Paul describes so well in talking about the WAR between the flesh and the spirit. Our neighbors give us bad example, peer pressure to follow them on the broad path that leads to destruction. And the evil spirit loves to remind us of our past sins and inability to ever be rid of them or overcome them by the grace of God. All these factors weigh heavily upon us and diminish our sense of accomplishment, which may be very great.

Associate with the lowly. Those who consider themselves among the lowly, have no great signs and wonders to put on their resume. Blessed are those who do not see and yet believe. Those of us who live by faith and not by sight, are not overly presumptuous concerning whatever virtue we may have attained. Frequently it seems we search fruitlessly for any sign of heroic virtue that may signify we are on the road to holiness. We see instead apathy, infidelity, acedia. It’s depressing when considering what we SHOULD do for the glory of God, and what we actually do in reality.

Yet therein lays the rest of the story. They say that to go undefeated, a sports team needs to beat every other team that may play at its BEST, while it may play at its WORST. That’s quite a challenge. God realizes the challenge we face. All through the Gospel Jesus is confounded by the inability of His disciples to grasp the simplest concepts, and follow through on the simplest actions. O ye of little faith… He has experienced the consternation of seeing His team PLAYING AT ITS WORST!

Yet He never gives up on us. Being a sports fan, I know how hard it is to keep rooting for a losing team with little hope of improvement. There is the law of expectations to deal with. If you expect your team to do well, they better do well or the fans will be very disappointed. If your college football team, for example, is expected to go undefeated and be the national champion, a 10 – 3 record is a huge disappointment. If on the other hand, the expectations for your team are very low, and they end up with the same 10 – 3 record, fans are thrilled. The team has exceeded expectations.

Do we set our spiritual expectations too high? We read the lives of the Saints, and then look at our own lives. Depressing. Sometimes the only way we can hold our head up is to say that our DESIRE to love and give glory to God is greater than the results we perceive. Is desire enough, or should we see some actual progress? Should we to lower expectations of our own behavior in order to feel good about ourselves? Perhaps that will lead to self-esteem, but not self-respect. We cannot have self-respect if in fact we merely try to fool ourselves. It is certain we will not fool God.

Thank God that He understands our dilemma. Left to ourselves we can do nothing. We have that on good Authority. Thank God also that we only have to please HIM, not ourselves. Thank God thirdly that He has a different definition of achievement than we do, or we would be, of all people, the most to be pitied. We dream of success, but in the words of Mother Teresa, we are called not to be successful, but to be FAITHFUL.

God knows our weakness, yet He loves us even in our weak and sinful condition. That’s remarkable. How lovable do we appear to ourselves (or our neighbor) at our worst? Yet God loves us at our worst! Does He then have low or high expectations of us? "Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect." I’d say those are pretty high expectations. So why don’t we feel that we live up to them? The perfection bar is set pretty high, so there is always more to strive for. I can hardly get off the ground, an average Joe, so these musings are very relevant to me. With the grossly imperfect life I have lived, should I still have reason to trust in Divine Mercy? Absolutely! Then shouldn’t my average Joe life be filled with joy?

Jesus told His disciples: "Do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven." Here is cause for pure joy, for we as well as the disciples can have the CERTAINTY that our names are written in heaven. That’s what our faith tells us, and that’s the reward for being FAITHFUL. If that doesn’t make us happy, I don’t know what will!

Donna and I are reading "The Perfect Joy of St. Francis," by Timmermans. He has a nice way of helping us understand what an extraordinary life Francis led. There was a time he didn’t know whether he should retire in solitude or preach, so Francis sent Brother Masseo to consult Sister Clare and Brother Sylvester to discern the will of God. Masseo returned with the word: "Preach." "Freed from all his doubts, he joyfully set out with Masseo and Angelo. They began to preach with fervent enthusiasm… Masseo was astounded at all their success. He said to Francis, ‘And yet you are not such a handsome young fellow – you’re not a scholar – you’re not…’"

"That’s just it!" exclaimed Francis joyfully. "That’s just how you can see that it is God who does it. And in order to show clearly that it is His work, He chooses for it the ugliest and the most unworthy and the greatest of sinners. So whom could he choose better than myself? Without God I am a mere nothing, just a simpleton incapable of doing anything. So let us thank Him and Love Him because He makes use of the most miserable sinner…"

And then he added, "Love – love is everything! The only thing that counts is to be joyful at all times with what we receive from God’s hands. That is LOVE!"

Paul Beery BSP - Morning Star Chapter - Minnesota

Lisa Drago
Binding Spiritual Wounds ...
by Lisa Drago BSP

This year, my Bible Study group is focusing on the Gospel of Luke. For commentary and discussion questions, we are using Mission of the Messiah by Tim Gray. The author does an excellent job of linking Jesus' actions and teachings to their Old Testament roots. He explains how the New Covenant expands upon the Old.

In particular, I was struck by the discussion of the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:29-37) and how it applies to us as members of the BSP, our motto being, "In the world, but not of it, for Christ!" Jesus teaches us that our "neighbors" are not only our family members, co-workers, fellow parishioners, or other Roman Catholics. We are called to reach out to ALL who are in need in any way - especially people who frighten us (remember St. Francis with the leper?), or who seem to be our enemies, or who are enslaved by sin.

Jesus has already instructed us to "be merciful, just as your Father is merciful" (Luke 6:36). In the parable, the priest and the Levite are careful to stay away from the Samaritan because they want to avoid ritual impurity which would bar them from the Temple. Jesus, however, has not called US to a kind of separation from the world (as He does with cloistered monastic or hermits, for example). He wants our personal holiness of life to lead us directly into contact with those in the world who need our help - in whatever form. This may involve performing corporal works of mercy (as in the parable) or spiritual works of mercy.

When we look at our own lives, we are reminded that: "Compassionate and merciful is the LORD; he forgives sins, he saves in time of trouble" (Sir 2:11). In addition, He wants to use US as instruments of His saving help. God does not want us to play it safe, as if we are fearing contamination, when we can clearly see our neighbors hurting or even perishing.

My greatest insight here is that this is even more critical in the spiritual realm than in the physical. In the past, this parable would make me feel bad because I could not see myself physically binding the wounds of strangers. I do not feel called to that kind of work; I could never be a nurse! However, I CAN and regularly DO care for people who are suffering spiritual wounds; who are seeking God but cannot find Him; who, due to their sinfulness, cannot comprehend the depth of God's love and mercy.

We must not fear close contact with sinners - even obstinate sinners - when God is calling us to assist them. We know very well that we, too, used to be fornicators, idolaters, thieves, drunkards, etc., but we have been washed clean (cf. 1 Cor 6:9-11). God keeps us safe and fortified through the Sacraments, prayer, our holy Rule of Life, and the intercession of our Blessed Mother and all the angels and saints. God continues to bless us by calling us to Himself and by sending us out into the world as His hands, feet and heart - to ignite even tiny sparks of faith, hope and love in souls who are hurting.

"The favors of the LORD are not exhausted, his mercies are not spent; they are renewed each morning, so great is his faithfulness. My portion is the LORD, says my soul; therefore, I will hope in him" (Lam 3:22-24).

Peace and love,

Lisa M. Drago, BSP
Virginia

DATES TO REMEMBER:

November 1—All Saints Day
- Is itself a Solemnity...no fasting or abstinence...but, it is a Sunday this year.
Begins the Wednesday Fast until Easter

RULE: ARTICLE 8 8. From the Pasch of the Resurrection to the feast of All Saints they are to fast on Fridays. From the feast of All Saints until Easter they are to fast on Wednesdays and Fridays, but still observing the other fasts enjoined in general by the Church.

November 2, All Souls Day

RULE: ARTICLE 24 24. In addition, every year, for the welfare of the brothers and sisters living and dead, each priest is to say three Masses, each member knowing the Psalter is to recite it, and the rest shall say one hundred Our Fathers with the Requiem aeternam at the end of each.

November 11—Feast of St. Martin of Tours
- November 12 begins our Advent fast

RULE: ARTICLE 9 (Also 14, which is cited as b below.)
9. They are to fast daily, except on account of infirmity or any other need, throughout the fast of St. Martin from after said day until Christmas, and throughout the greater fast from Carnival Sunday until Easter.

b. All are to go to daily Mass in Advent and Lent whenever they can.

November 26—Thanksgiving
- Give thanks and praise to God for all His gifts.

December 8—Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception
Remember Our Lady in some special way!

December 25—Christmas
* Celebrate the birth of Our Lord, and ponder his messages to us as we seek to grow in the love of God and neighbor

A MESSAGE TO THE BSP FROM FR. TONY

Dear Friends in the BSP,

God bless you and all who so generously donated toward the now completed restoration of the 19th century Romanesque chalice and paten! They are now beautifully restored! I will bring them to the BSP retreat next year in Minnesota and celebrate Mass with you using them!

I hope all is well with you all, and the Association, and I send my blessings and best regards.

Pax et Bonum!

Father Anthony Cirignani O.F.M.
Visitor
Green Bay, Wisconsin

ST FRANCIS AND ST. CLARE PRAY FOR US.

Jesus said to him, "If you wish to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to (the) poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me."
(Matt. 19:21)


The marriage of the Virgin Mary and St Joseph
The marriage of the Virgin Mary and St Joseph
Painted by Perugino in 1504
Located in Caen (France) Arts Museum


The
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 postmaster@bspenance.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!

Website: www.bspenance.org
Email: postmaster@bspenance.org

In the world, but not of it, for Christ!


Communication Center & Headquarters:

20939 Quadrant Avenue N - SCANDIA MN USA 55073
Phone: 651-433-2753   

postmaster@bspenance.org