BONAVENTURE AND HIS LESSONS ON ST. FRANCIS:
Chapter IX – Those who refused to honor the saint by not keeping his feast day
St. Francis was consulted at Siena by a religious who was a doctor of theology about a number of difficult questions, and he expounded the secrets of divine wisdome so clearly that the theologian was amazed and exclaimed, "His theology soars aloft on the wings of purity and contemplation, like an eagle in full flight, while our learning crawls along the ground."
Francis was not an experienced teacher, but he had no lack of knowledge, so that he was able to resolve doubtful questions and bring all their implications to light. There is nothing strange in the fact that he should have been enlightened by God to understand the scriptures; by his perfect conformity with Christ he practiced the truths which are contained in them and carried their Author in his heart by the abundant infusion of the Holy Spirit.
St. Francis possessed the spirit of prophecy to such a degree that he could fortell the future and read the secrets of men's hearts; he saw what went on in his absenc as if it were present, and he often appeared to those who were far away. He was present when the Christian army was besieging Damietta, bearing the armor of faith, not that of war; and when he heard they were preparing to attack, he was very upset and told his companion, "If they go into action today, God has revealed to me that it will be bad for the Christians. But if I say that, they will say I am a fool. And if I do not say it, my conscience will give me no rest. "What do you think I should do?"
His companion replied, "Brother, do not worry about being criticized. This will not be the first time you were called a fool. Obey your conscience, and have more regard for God than for human beings." When he heard that, the saint jumped to his feet and brought his advice to the Christian army, telling them they should not go into battle and that they would lose. True as his prophecy was, they made a joke of it and obstinately refused to turn back. They advanced and engaged the enemy, but the entire Christian army was routed, so that the action ended in disgrace, not in victory. Such havoc was wreaked on the Christian ranks that about six thousand men were killed or taken prisoners, and it was clear that the wisdom of a beggar was not to be scorned. As we read in Sacred Scripture: "There are times when a man of piety sees truth more clearly than seven sentinels high in a watch tower." (Sir 37, 18)
Bonaventure—Major Life of St. Francis (1263)
Two of the three Fatima seers, Jacinta and Francisco, died young because of the need for victim souls to give necessary fecundity to Our Lady's plan. Their lives were proof that nothing great is done without suffering.
Indeed, suffering helps those souls who are absorbed with themselves and unwilling to open up. We should see suffering as normal for man and we should practice it with courage and daring. The acceptance of sacrifice is necessary to combat the Hollywood myth of the "happy end."
Jacinta and Francisco died as children by Our Lady's design as she had foretold. The third seer, Lucia, lived for many more years. What was the reason why
Jacinta and Francisco died so early? This was obvious for they spoke openly about it.
The reason was that Fatima asked people to offer up their sufferings. It called for victim souls to associate themselves with the entire mystery of Fatima, and through their sufferings and pains help bring about all the supernatural fecundity Our Lady wanted to give to the events at Fatima. . This is exactly what happened to both children who died in extraordinarily difficult and arduous circumstances that caused them much suffering.
Such sufferings are needed because when it comes to the salvation of souls, all great works of God are done with the participation of men. In general, this is only accomplished with people willing to fight, suffer and pray for God's work to be brought to its fruition.
In other words, sacrifice is necessary. Otherwise, nothing great is done.
The importance of this principle stood out especially at Fatima. Our Lady directly intervened there by performing stupendous miracles especially the "miracle of the sun." She did this to underscore the fact that Fatima is one of the most important if not the most important message she has ever given in history.
On that occasion and in those circumstances, Our Lady wanted the sacrifice of two souls who would offer themselves up for the fulfillment of the plan of Divine Providence. This clearly shows how the apostolate of suffering is truly irreplaceable and how it opens up the way for the Church to act upon souls.
A German painter once painted Our Lord as the Good Shepherd knocking on the door of a simple house. Afterwards someone told him: "You made a mistake, for the door has no outside knob to get in." He answered: "That's true, but it is not a mistake. This door symbolizes the human heart. Our Lord knocks on it, but there is no knob outside, only inside. There are certain souls that open up only to themselves and to no one else, and in that case no one can intervene, they are really closed."
Prayer and sacrifice are precisely the way to influence this type of person. They open up to the grace and find life when they suffer and carry the Cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ lovingly. They come to understand how normal it is to suffer. A person acquires greatness to the degree that he suffers. The great men in history are those who bear great sufferings for the love of God.
Clearly, this includes not only passive suffering like, for example, allowing another to strike us. It also means active suffering that is, taking the initiative in find suffering. This can be done by confronting bad public opinion or overcoming human respect. In short, it means accepting suffering entirely, embracing it fearlessly and daringly, and taking the initiative to look for ways to sacrifice for an ideal. This is what it means to suffer par excellence and we should seek to do this.
The Hollywood myth of the "happy end" is a great obstacle to accepting suffering and sacrifice. Not all things turn out well in the end as in the movies.
Not everything is joy and success. Thus, we should not look at suffering as a kind of seven-headed monster that invades people's lives uninvited. To the contrary, we should realize that everyone suffers and a life without crosses is worthless. Saint Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort goes so far as to say that when a person does not suffer, he should ask for crosses. For a person to whom God gives no sufferings should be wary of his eternal salvation.
All this comes across very clearly in the sacrifice made by Jacinta and Francisco.
In this sense, we should frequently pray to them to ask Our Lady of Fatima to obtain for us this true sense of suffering that is indispensable for all those faithful who want to become generous and dedicated Catholics.
This article if from Janet Klassen BSP from an article called "America needs Fatima" she posted on the web page in early January. As brothers and sisters of Penance we choose to suffer as part of living our Rule for the good of our own and others souls. Thank God for the Rule we follow that St. Francis gave us. We are living the call to suffer that our Lady gave us all at Fatima, and if we do that we will change our lives for Christ.
Sincerely yours in Jesus Christ,
Bruce and Shelley Fahey BSP
PROFESSION OF FATHER RODNEY HUNTER-HALL
We are delighted, and honored, to announce that Father Rodney Hunter-Hall, the assistant Professor of Theology at Notre Dame graduate school in Arlington, Virginia has professed to the Rule of 1221, the Rule of the BSP, of his own desire and volition. Ordained priests and professed religious can profess to the Rule of the BSP with the approval of their Orders or superiors.
Let us keep Father Rodney in our prayers. He is keeping the BSP in his prayers and Masses. His comments to us on his profession speak well of it all, and follow:
Dear Bruce and Shelley:
The Profession in the Brothers and Sisters of Penance was effected on January 23rd. All went well; it occurred at the Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land here in Washington, DC. It was the liturgical feast of Blessed Marianne Cope and, on some particular calendars, the Feast of the Espousals of Mary and Joseph.
I am attaching a copy of the rite as I did it. I based it on what you sent however I made adaptations using the ceremonial of monastic profession for the Swiss American
Congregation of Benedictines. The prayer of thanksgiving is a slight adaptation from the Rite of Consecration of a Virgin in the Roman Pontifical. Being a professor of liturgy and sacraments, I hoped you would not mind my taking a few liberties and adapting what you sent me to my situation. I should be glad for your feedback. Please forgive the eccentric changes in typeface that result from cutting and pasting for a variety of sources. I should have imposed a uniforming but I put in several hours of research on all of this as it resulted.
I have some post cards and some photos that I will be able to send to you. I also will send you a copy of the formula of profession, signed at the altar of the monastery's reproduction of Calvary and which was under the corporal of the altar during the Mass of Thanksgiving.
More to follow. It is a hectic moment for me at present.
Homily by Fr. Robert Altier
The Remnant Seeks Its Refuge in Jesus Christ
Reading I (Zephaniah 2:3; 3:12-13) Reading II (1 Corinthians 1:26-31 )
Gospel (St. Matthew 5:1-12a)
We all know that the Christian life is contrary to the life that this world presents. Today Saint Paul tells us that not many of us were wise, that not many of us were considered to be of royal blood or high-born. Most of us would be lowly; most of us would be considered among those that the world would not necessarily consider the great ones. Yet we are the ones that God has chosen. Saint Paul says that God chooses the weak to shame the strong. He chooses, rather, those who are foolish to put to shame those who are considering themselves to be wise. God chooses the lowly; He chooses the despised of this world to bring to nothing those who thought that they were something.
So you see the task which God has put before each one of us. It is not to be puffed up with pride thinking that we are something simply because we have been chosen. We have to remember that we were chosen because we were NOT something impressive, because we were the lowly ones, because we were the foolish ones; that is why God chose us. Now most of us, because of the society we live in, when we hear talk like that we would naturally recoil and think: "Not me. I'm not weak. I'm not foolish. Who does Saint Paul think that he is talking like that?" If that is the reaction, then what we have to be able to do is to say, if nothing else, that we are proud. And that needs to go because we read in the first reading today that we are to seek humility and to seek righteousness. The prophet Zephaniah tells us that on the day of God's anger there will be a remnant that will be saved, but it will be a people who are lowly; it will be a people who seek the truth. He tells us that no lie is going to come from their mouths, that they will find their refuge in the Name of the Lord. If we think that we are something, if we think that we have some kind of power in and of ourselves, if we think that we have ability of ourselves, then we rely on ourselves or on wherever it is that we think we have the power - whether that is our money, our position, our material goods, whatever it might be. Instead of relying on the Lord, instead of calling on Him, we simply look to ourselves because we do not think that we need Him.
Now, obviously, all of us sitting here would say, "No, I do need the Lord." But the reality is, if we look at our day-to-day existence, many of us probably do not think about the Lord very often; many of us probably do not call on His Name often throughout the day. Most of us probably do not seek our refuge in the Lord, but rather, we seek our refuge in anything and everything other than the Lord, most often. You can ask yourself: When you feel stressed, do you turn to pray? When you are feeling attacked, do you turn to Our Lord? When you are feeling lowly or lonely or despised, do you turn to the Lord? Many of us, in answer to those things, would probably say that we call someone else on the phone, we turn on the TV or we eat. We turn to material things; we look to all kinds of other things other than God. We do not necessarily seek our refuge in the Lord.
What we need to strive for is true humility. There is not one single individual in Heaven who is not humble, not one. There is not one single person in Heaven who sought refuge in himself or herself. There is no one in Heaven who did not seek the Lord. We need to be very clear about that. We have a choice to make. And the choices that we make in this world are also eternal choices. I have asked many times from this pulpit: Do you want to serve the Lord? Or do you want to serve some other god? Most of us are not going to bow down before idols; that is, little gods made of wood, silver, or gold. But there are lots of idols in this society that many, many, many people bow down before, that many people put before God. We need to choose whom we are going to serve.
Jesus tells us in the Gospel what the life of the Christian person is to look like. We are to be poor in spirit. We are to be mourning over sin. We are to be meek. We are to be lowly. We are going to be persecuted. We are going to be slandered. He makes all those points in the Beatitudes and calls those people blessed. Now that is not what anybody who lives a worldly life would call blessed. But the Lord does.
And so, we need to ask ourselves: Are we seeking our reward in Heaven? Or are we seeking our reward here on earth? Remember, if we go out of our way to seek the attention of others Our Lord tells us: "You have already received your reward." I think the same, then, can be said when we look at the Beatitudes. If we are seeking the things of this world - the comforts and the riches and all of the things that this world affords - if we are trying to be wise in the ways of the world, if we are trying to fit in, we have already received our reward, which means that we are not going to receive it in the end. We will stand before God on the Day of Judgment and He will say, "I do not know you."
The goal of our Christian life is to be conformed to Jesus Christ, indeed, even more: to be transformed into Jesus Christ. Jesus was poor and meek and lowly. Jesus sought to serve others. He gave of Himself, poured everything out for our sake. He was persecuted. He was slandered. And that is what is going to happen to us if we want to follow Him. That is the choice we have to make. Do we want to be like Jesus? Or do we just want to keep Jesus at a far distance and give Him lip service while our lives and our hearts are far from Him? The choice is entirely ours.
The day of God's wrath is drawing near. There will be a remnant that will be saved through it. And it will be a remnant only of those who seek refuge in the Name of the Lord. Do not think that when that day comes you are suddenly going to seek refuge if it is not what you are accustomed to already. It is something that we have to do every day because then when that day comes we will be accustomed to calling upon the Name of the Lord. When that day comes, whether it is the day of our own individual judgment or a day of the Lord that will befall this world, it is not going to frighten us; it is not going to be a problem for us if we are accustomed to being humble and righteous and seeking our refuge in the Lord. But if instead we seek pride, power, selfishness, if we are seeking our refuge in wealth, materialism, position, or anything else, then when the day of the Lord comes upon us we will not be seeking the Lord, but we will be seeking all the other things.
It is absolutely essential that we strive for humility, that we strive for righteousness, and that we call upon the Name of the Lord. It is not something that is just a good idea. It is not something that [we can say], "Well, of course, we would hear it in church. But that is what we hear in church; we don't really have to live it or pay attention to it." It is not something that we can compartmentalize and say, "Well, that's on Sunday morning, but the rest of my life I don't have to pay attention to that," because one day each one of us will stand before the Lord and the choice we make now is the choice we will make then. Seek righteousness, seek humility, and seek refuge in the Name of the Lord.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.
FROM THE GOSPEL READING – Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time
by Janet Klasson BSP
"Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you shall be filled"
This month, as we do each Lent, we begin our 40-day period of fast and abstinence. The reading from the Beatitudes, coming as it does just before Ash Wednesday, February 17 this year, gives us penitents much spiritual food for thought. For 40 days we experience hunger in some form, dying to self one desire at a time. Before we begin, it is good to reflect on what it is we are hungry for, and what it is Christ is saying we should be hungry for through this passage.
In January, I came across two separate articles in two days that illustrated to me society's increasing starvation for God, a hunger it often tries to satisfy with everything but God. The culture of death offers food that cannot satisfy, and the world is gobbling up the illusion, starving to death while the Bread from Heaven goes largely unclaimed. It is a recipe for imminent disaster.
The first of the articles I mentioned was posted on January 6, 2010 on LifeSiteNews.com. In an interview, Fr. Thomas Euteneuer spoke about the worldwide disaster that the culture of death will bring about if hearts are not converted. He is quoted as saying:
"If people get fed up and just elect another political party that is just as bad as the previous political party, it does nothing to stem the global crisis that's going to come upon us. What we need is a conversion of heart."
The second article came out the next day on Catholic Online on January 7, 2010. It was an opinion piece written by Jennifer Hartline titled, "The Truth Comes out: Women Who Support Abortion". In a very thoughtful, well-written article, this passage jumped out at me:
In most cases, he said, only suffering has enough power to effect such a change. "People turn back to God when they suffer." But the price, he warned, is necessarily going to be high.
We're not dealing with a rational enemy who will respond to reason or be persuaded by facts. We're dealing with evil that has made a comfy home for himself in the quiet, hidden center of humanity; the womb. Changing minds will not do the trick. Hearts must be changed. Hearts must be converted and blind eyes must be made to see. Only God can do that. Only the love and power of Christ can reveal the truth to hardened hearts.
Having read these two passages within a day of each other, I felt very strongly our Lord's hunger for the conversion of the world. "I thirst!" Hearts hardened by sin and the Culture of Death cause his wounded heart so much anguish. It is no wonder then, that he has called so many to a life of penance. As Fr. Euteneuer said, only suffering has enough power to effect such a change.
If we enter into the Lord's hunger for souls, especially through our Lenten fast (in whatever form that takes) our sacrifices will make reparation and somehow, mysteriously, assist in the conversion of heart so desperately needed in the world today. As St. Paul tells us, in our own bodies, we make up for what is lacking in the sufferings of Christ. (Col. 1:24)
Let us not take lightly what we are called to do this Lent. Much more depends on it than we can know. Let us pray for grace and ask the Lord how he wishes us to enter into his hunger for souls this Lent, that in the end, the Immaculate Heart may triumph in a great many souls.
Excerpt from the Pelianito Journal blog (www.pelianito.stblogs.com)
October 23, 2009:
Joel 2:12-13 Yet even now, says the LORD, return to me with your whole heart, with fasting, and weeping, and mourning; rend your hearts, not your garments, and return to the LORD, your God. For gracious and merciful is he, slow to anger, rich in kindness, and relenting in punishment.
"My beloved, even now, at this late hour, if my children turn to me with fasting and weeping, throwing themselves on my mercy, contrite and sorrowful, it would mitigate to a great degree the chastisement due to sin. What sin has purchased I would refund for the sake of those many repentant hearts. That is why, my child, I call you to fast and pray for souls. Have you done enough yet? Can you say that you have? My child, much depends on the number of souls who turn to me with contrite hearts. Pray, pray, pray for conversions. There are too few praying! Too many will not be converted. Time is short. Give me every moment of your life to do with as I please. I will use it to purchase more souls. This is a great mystery, tied to the gift of free will. Give me all, my child. Hold nothing back. Your God implores you. Do not refuse, for much depends on those who will abandon all to the Lord of Life."
Jesus, Lord of Life, take my miserable offering and use it as you wish magnified in the love and merits of our Mother. I have so little to offer, but I give it to you. In your mercy receive it as you received the offering of the widow with her small coins. Jesus I trust in you. Save souls!
Janet Klasson BSP - Divine Mercy Chapter - Canada
NO GREATER LOVE: by PAUL BEERY BSP - February 2010
"For me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. What shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and to be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body." (Phil. 1)
Nothing sharpens the senses like a near-death experience. I have had such an experience and wish to share the profound transformation that has taken place in my spiritual life.
"You have cancer (the type common to men), and it is a quite virulent form." That was, in effect, the news I recently received. Cancer runs on my mother's side of the family, heart trouble on my father's side. I always expected to die of a heart attack just like my dad, and have already outlived him by eleven years. That means I'm living on borrowed time. Eleven years is a long time. It could be another eleven before the Big One hits, for all I know, or even longer. The chances of that happening are therefore rather remote, so it has seldom been a matter of immediate concern.
But cancer is another matter. All of a sudden I am faced with the threat of imminent death, a rather sobering reality. I have always thought the ideal way to go is to have the doctor say: "You have three months to live." Then I would scurry about putting everything in order with family, friends, and the good Lord, so that by the time I was on my deathbed all would be accomplished and I would be perfectly at peace. This in spite of the fact that a certain Saint when asked what he would do if he were about to die said: "I'd just keep on with what I'm doing." No, it would take me at least three months.
Well, that was the theory. Now the theory has become reality, and it is a different story. There was almost a week between the time I knew I had cancer, and whether, according to the tests available, it had metastasized. Did I want to go quickly, slowly, or return to my previous state of inertia? I prayed.
Surprisingly, I found that if I had a choice, it would be: "quickly!" I'm ready to go. Beam me up, Lord! Now my beloved and devoted wife Donna doesn't want to hear that. As much as she is looking forward to taking care of me come what may, she wants to go first. None of this "left behind" stuff. She says I can get along better without her than she can without me. I'm glad neither one of us has to decide this issue! It's wonderful to be happily married, until the time of "death do us part." Who will have to make the sacrifice of continuing the journey alone after losing their soul-mate? It's a question I don't even want to ponder at this time.
I was eighteen when my dad died. I was happy for him, and shed nary a tear. He had lived a difficult but humble life with much suffering; I knew he was going to a much better place. He had just returned from daily Mass and Holy Communion and was getting ready to go to work. There can't be a better time to go than that! How could I deny him the opportunity to meet the Lord in the Beatific Vision, the dream and consummate goal of our lives? The Lord would take care of me. AND HE HAS! Now it's my turn!
I know just how the Apostle Paul felt in the wonderful passage above about wanting to be with Christ, vs. remaining "in the body." For the faithful disciple, it's a win/win situation. Sometimes it feels we have lived several lifetimes. I have lived long enough. It's only natural to long for the joys of heaven.
There were other factors; the repentance issue. In heaven, no longer would I be able to offend God. Some say the sinning only stops when one is six feet under. I hope it doesn't take that long! I feel I have been raised to another level of understanding concerning the horror of sin, with the determination to never intentionally offend God again. And there would be no more suffering from the infidelity of the children of God who imitate Judas rather than Jesus. He deserves our supreme honor, not our scorn.
Then there is a category of "unfinished business." Knowing the end is near, certain things need to be said and done before it will no longer be possible. The title of the song goes: "Have I told you lately that I love you?" Is there someone in our lives that needs to hear from us? Is there reconciliation that needs to take place? The Apostle Paul puts it another way: "Let no debt remain outstanding except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law." (Romans 13)
Yet, if we owe a debt, it is surely to God more than to man. Have I paid my debts? Have I told God our Father I love Him for the gift of life, for creating me "a little less than the angels?" Have I asked His forgiveness when I failed to do His will? Have I sought to live as the Image of Jesus, who said "He who sees Me sees the Father." Have I fulfilled my duty as a man to protect and defend family, Church and society? Do I promote virtue and live in holiness like Christ, who heard the Father's words: "This is My Beloved Son in whom I am well pleased." Could those words be directed to me someday?
Have I told Jesus how much I love Him for sacrificing His life for our salvation so that we can enjoy the Fullness of Life for all eternity? "There is No Greater Love than that one lay down his life for his friends." Have I given thanks to the Holy Spirit for continually prompting me to become a pure and spotless temple in which He can dwell? Thanked and praised Him for the gift of perseverance over a lifetime? Many young martyrs make a single supreme sacrifice. Those who live many years, over the course of their lifetimes must make thousands, millions of lesser sacrifices while running a seemingly endless marathon to the finish line. Then with Paul the Apostle we can say:
"I have fought the good fight. I have finished the race. I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day – and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for His appearing." (2 Timothy)
How great will it be to see the face of God! To see the source of the Love for which we were born. To experience the "Fullness of Life." It didn't take me long to say: "Thank you Lord, now I'm ready to go!"
Well, right in the middle of these glorious thoughts, I found out the cancer had apparently not spread, and would most likely be eradicated soon via surgery. Am I supposed to be happy or sad at this news? After dwelling on all the good and wonderful things I could expect from a swift exit from this vale of tears, I find I will likely have to wait for the Special Delivery. I found my reaction was very different from other cancer patients, who proclaim they are going to fight it tooth and nail, dedicating their lives to survival. My reaction was totally different, more like: "What took so long, Lord? Sure, no problem. What am I supposed to do now?" I know someone who did nothing to stop the advance of his cancer, preferring to suffer the effects until his death. I never seriously considered this option, though my "glorious thoughts" were leading in that direction.
There was no difficulty in choosing a course of action. Even if just for Donna, who has been entrusted to my care, which shows the depth of our mutual love - that I would postpone such a happy ending to remain by her side, perhaps to nurse her through some future trauma. But there were other reasons.
The Apostle Paul continues:
"Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, so that through my being with you again your joy in Christ Jesus will overflow on account of me. Yes, and I will continue to rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and the help given by the Spirit of Christ Jesus, what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance. I eagerly expect and hope that I will be in no way ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death." Phil. 1
Would that I could make those words my own! In addition, I wish to continue living as pure and dedicated a life as I have this past month. No, more to live with the awareness of God being so close, and there is no way I would offend Him NOW. Not now! Not after coming THIS CLOSE to the prize!
The Rule of St. Francis has brought me to a level of prayer that has allowed me to implore the Lord to remain in this keen awareness; not slip back as has happened so often in the past. It is as though a bargain has been struck. "I have allowed you to see the way you should live. Now go and sin no more." On a personal level, that is a great challenge. I normally love challenges, especially that of overcoming my greatest weakness, for which reason Jesus said: "Without Me, you can do NOTHING!" Has the moment of transfiguration finally arrived? Is it possible Jesus will allow me to stay on this mountain living in intimacy with Him, to be transported directly to heaven – either at some proximate or distant point in the future? That is my earnest prayer today. And it is my prayer for each of you, my dear friends who live for God Alone. Love one another. Above all love God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength, for there is NO GREATER LOVE! Come Lord Jesus! "To live is Christ, to die is gain!"
Paul Beery BSP - Morning Star Chapter - Minnesota