BONAVENTURE AND HIS LESSONS ON ST. FRANCIS:
Chapter I – St. Francis life in the World
2. As yet, however, Francis had no idea of God’s plan for him. He was completely taken up with the affairs of his father’s business and his mind was intent on the things of earth because of the corruption of human nature, so that he had never learned to raise his mind to heaven, or acquired a taste for the things of God. Adversity is one of the best means of sharpening a person’s spiritual perception and so “the power of the Lord reached out to him and the Most High relented in His dealings with him.” (Ez 1:3; Ps 76:11) God brought him low with a prolonged illness, in order to prepare his soul to receive the Holy Spirit. When he recovered and was going about dressed as usual in keeping with his position, he met a knight who was of noble birth but very poor, so that he was not properly clad. Francis felt sorry for him and immediately took off his own clothes and gave them to him. At one and the same time he fulfilled the twofold duty of relieving the poverty of the poor and saving a nobleman from embarrassment.
3. That night, as he lay asleep, God in his goodness showed him a vision of a magnificent palace full of armor, bearing Christ’s cross as its coat-of-arms. He would let him see that the kindness he had done a poor knight for love of the supreme King would be repaid with an incomparable reward. And so, when Francis asked to whom all this belonged, he was told from heaven that it was all for him and his knights. He had no experience of interpreting God’s secret revelations and he could not penetrate beyond the appearance of what he saw to the to the truth that he could not see, and so when he awoke in the morning, he took his extraordinary vision to mean that he was going to achieve great success (in the world). He was still ignorant of God’s plan for him and he prepared to enlist with a high-ranking knight in the Apulia, in the hope of acquiring distinction as a soldier in his service, as his vision seemed to indicate.
4. He set out shortly afterwards but when he reached the next town, he heard God calling him by his first name as he lay asleep, and saying “Francis, who can do more for you, a lord or his servant, a rich man or a beggar?” When he replied that a lord or a rich man could do more, he was asked, “Then why are you abandoning the Lord to devote yourself to a servant? Why are you choosing a beggar instead of God who is infinitely rich?” “Lord,” replied Francis, “what will you have me do?” And God told him, “Go back to your own town. The vision which you saw foretold a spiritual achievement which will be accomplished in you by God’s will, not man’s.” In the morning Francis went back to Assisi without delay. He was overjoyed and had no care for the future; he was already a model of obedience and he waited patiently on God’s will.
Bonaventure—Major Life of St. Francis - Part I - (1263)
PEOPLE TO REMEMBER
IN LOVING MEMORY OF SHERRI ANN CANADA
Sister Mary Francis Canada passed away June 12, 2010. She was a vowed member of the Franciscan Lay Sisters of Penance at the time of her death. She joined the BSP as Sherri Ann Canada many years prior to that, and made her profession in the Association. She suffered from lupus. As a former member Sherri Ann deserves our prayers according to our Rule, which states,
Article 23 b. Within eight days of the demise, each member shall say for the soul of the deceased: a Mass, if a priest, otherwise fifty Psalms. If a member cannot read the Psalter, he or she may say fifty Our Father’s with the words “May the souls of the faithful departed through the Mercy of God rest in peace” following each Our Father.
c. Penitents may, if they wish, add the ejaculation, “Lord, have mercy on ________’s soul” or the Glory be, after praying each psalm.
Let us all pray for Sherri Ann. May she rest forever in peace with our Lord.
Thank you dear Sister Bernadette Meno for letting us know that Sherri was with God.
A THANK YOU TO ANNA FERONI AND WELCOME TO JANET:
Years ago, at a crucial time in BSP history, Anna Feronni of Torino, Italy, came to our rescue and created our web site and, as part of it, the BSP communication forums. We have often received compliments on Anna’s good work! Anna has a tremendous capability to use all of the software and programs that relate to creating, developing, and maintaining web pages on the Internet. She once said “the Internet has no secrets for me” and her tremendous ability to use these Internet tools allowed her to routinely resolve the most difficult questions that came up in the BSP on the Internet. She routinely did a tremendous amount of troubleshooting of Web page and Internet problems for the BSP, and maintained the functionality of the BSP web site on a continuous basis. We want to take this opportunity to thank Anna for all of her contributions to the BSP and its life among members over the years. Due to serious ongoing health considerations Anna asked recently that we find a new Web Master and we wanted to report that we have been successful in finding one. Thank you Anna for all you have done!
Janet Klasson BSP, a professed BSP member in Canada, has agreed to take the responsibility for the Web page and in the future she will be the contact on questions that relate to the Web page or its forums. So, we would like to take this opportunity also to thank Janet officially for assuming this responsibility and continue our history of reaching out to people through the Internet.
Janet can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have questions on the web page or BSP forum in general. Janet is also a Chapter leader in Canada and can help anyone of us to form a Chapter of the BSP where we live. So, if you are looking for some private assistance on BSP Internet or Chapter matters feel free to check with Janet.
It should also be mentioned that she has written a book on her relationship with the Lord which is mentioned on her website at www.goldleafword.com. Her book is available to all, and is titled “Cling to Hope with Joy.” A wonderful book, that will reach into your heart.
Let us keep Janet, and Anna, in our prayers!
Bruce and Shelley Fahey BSP
Note from Janet: I ask for your patience as I do not have anywher near Anna's skill or knowledge when it comes to websites. I depend on prayer and grace, and you can be sure that any success is due solely to that. Thank you for your prayers for me and for Anna, who is a treasure, and on whose expertise I will continue to rely.
BSP RETREAT 2010
The BSP retreat for 2010 is set to be held at the Prior Lake Retreat Center in Minneapolis as it has been for the past 10 years. Details on the retreat follow. The retreat is open to the public, and of course, to all BSP members. If you would like to attend please contact BSP headquarters and send $25 to reserve a spot. The total cost for all meals, stipends, and fees is $180.
Father Anthony (Tony) Cirignani O.F.M., one of the Visitors of the BSP, will be the retreat master this year. The subject he has chosen for us is "Instruments of Peace", from the Peace Prayer of St. Francis.
The retreat schedule follows.
Friday, July 30, 2010
4:00 PM – Regular Retreat Arrivals begin – BSP Greeting Committee at the door
5:30 PM – Dinner, followed by introductions, instructions, and sharing – Bruce Fahey, Father Tony, and someone from the Retreat center.
6:30 PM – Evening and Night Prayers from the Divine Office (C)
7:00 PM – Introduction to Franciscan Spirituality and movie on Fatima – Father Tony (MCR)
8:30 PM – Chaplet of Divine Mercy followed by Eucharistic Adoration (C)
9:30 PM – Benediction (C)
10:00 PM – Retire
Saturday, July 31, 2010
7:00 AM – Rise
7:30 AM – Office of Readings and Morning Prayers from the Divine Office (C) OPTIONAL
8:30 AM – Breakfast
9:30 AM – First Talk – Father Tony (MCR)
10:00 AM to 4 PM – Confessions and spiritual direction with Father Tony
11:30 AM – The Three Little Hours of the Divine Office (C) OPTIONAL
12:30 PM – Lunch …Group Picture Outside unless raining…
2:30 PM – Second Talk – Father Tony (MCR)
4:00 PM – Mass and homily celebrated by Father Tony
5:30 PM – Dinner
6:30 PM – Third Talk – Father Tony (MCR)
8:00 PM – Evening and Night Prayer from the Divine Office – (C) OPTIONAL
8:30 PM – Chaplet of Divine Mercy followed by Eucharistic Adoration (C)
9:30 PM – Benediction – Father Tony
10:00 PM – Retire
Sunday August 1, 2010 – Final day
7:00 AM – Rise
7:30 AM – Office of Readings and Morning Prayers from the Divine Office (C) OPTIONAL
8:30 AM – Breakfast
9:30 AM – Final Talk – Father Tony (MCR)
11:00 AM – Sunday Mass and homily by Father Tony.
12:30 PM – Lunch and departures thereafter.
1:30 PM - BSP Meeting with BSP members present with Father Tony (MCR)
Also at this year’s retreat we hope to have two professions. John Doyle of Ireland, and Brother Patrick Heath of California, a vowed religious, will make their professions to live the Rule of 1221 for all of their lives to Father Anthony. Please keep them in prayer!
For 'In him we live and move and have our being,' as even some of your poets have said, 'For we too are his offspring.' (ACTS 17:28)
HOMILY BY FATHER ALTIER
All Things Work Together for the Good of Those Who Believe
Saint Paul says that all things work together for the good of those who believe. This is something that people have difficulty believing because we see bad things happen, we see things that do not make any sense to us, we wonder how it is that evil people can seem to have so much power and the upper hand in so many things, we wonder why it is that if we do what is good and right we get trampled upon but if we do what is not good and right we can get ahead in this world. And so to say that all things work together for the good of those who believe, oftentimes, we scratch our heads and we wonder how this is possible.
But we know that God brings good even out of evil. This is part of a mystery which is very difficult for each one of us to be able to grasp. But what we need to understand is exactly what Saint Paul goes on to say: "Those whom God foreknew He predestined." And for what purpose? He says that it is to be conformed to the image of His Son. That is the purpose for which all things happen in our lives: to be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ. That means there are going to be times in our lives where we are just simply going to be hidden away. There are going to be times in our lives where it may seem (in a worldly way) a rather glorious day, like the day Our Lord entered Jerusalem to the shouts and cries of the people as they cried out "Hosanna to the Son of David!" And there are going to be days when we will be rejected, and even days when it will feel like we are being crucified…and that is exactly what is happening.
If we are going to be conformed to Jesus Christ, Saint Paul in his other letters tells us that it is to be conformed to Jesus Christ Crucified. Then he goes on to say things like "May I boast in nothing but the Cross of my Lord Jesus Christ" or "May I boast in nothing but Jesus Christ and Him Crucified." And so if we are going to be conformed to the Lord, it is to be conformed to His Cross in order to be conformed to His Resurrection. We like the idea of being conformed to the resurrected Christ and all the glory that follows from it, but that cannot happen without first being conformed to Jesus Christ Crucified.
Now one could ask, "Why would God, first of all, want us to be conformed to His Son Crucified?" Naturally, that would not make a whole lot of sense to us, but then for centuries the Crucifixion has not made sense to many people. Only for those who have faith does the Crucifixion make any sense at all: to be able to look at what Our Lord did for each one of us on the Cross and to recognize the importance and the charity with which He did this and the importance of it for our souls, that this is the only way we are going to be saved; but it is also the only way for the forgiveness of sin and for the purification of souls.
So the Church gives to us in the Gospel reading today a reading which tells us something about this kingdom of God which, the Lord tells us, is within. He tells us it is like a buried treasure or it is like a merchant's search for fine pearls. You notice that in each of these instances the people have to do some work to be able to find what is buried. The merchant has to search for the pearls and it is implied that he has searched long and hard. Finally, after a long time of searching, he finds that one pearl of great value and he is willing to sell everything that he has in order to buy that one pearl. Or like the person who is out digging in a field and finds a buried treasure: He goes and sells everything he has in order to purchase that field so he can get that treasure, which is going to be more valuable than everything else he owned anyway.
What about for us? Are we willing to search for that buried treasure? Are we willing to dig and do whatever is required in order to find it? For most of us, that means it is going to have to be unearthed. It is buried within; how are we going to find it other than to dig it up, to do our part, and to try to work hard at trying to find that kingdom of God within? Parts of it we can see very easily, but it is to be conformed to the image of the Son of God. That does not come so easily and naturally to us; that requires a lot of work.
Putting all these pieces together, then, what is it that we will find? We will find that as God continues to allow us to struggle and to suffer and to dig and to search and to do all these things that we can in our power, and then trusting in Him to do the rest, He will do the rest if we allow Him to do it—but again, we have to understand what that is going to entail. It is going to entail having the Cross being placed upon our shoulders, walking with it there to Calvary, and being crucified. There are parts of that that we cannot do by ourselves. We cannot crucify ourselves; we cannot even put the Cross upon our shoulders by ourselves. When we think about how in a moment of generosity we offer to Our Lord that we would be willing to suffer for Him, it is always in the areas we do well that we are willing to suffer. It is not going to help us a whole lot to suffer in the areas of our strength, but we are unable to take on the areas of our weakness by ourselves.
So the Lord provides wonderful means of that for us. For instance, if you are an impatient person, the Lord will bring people into your life people that irritate you to no end in order to help you to grow in patience. If you are a person who struggles with selfishness, the Lord is going to provide lots of means for you to have to give. If you are a person who struggles with anger, the Lord is going to provide situations in your life that are out of your control, that under normal circumstances your temper is going to go right through the roof and in order to learn how to keep it under control you are going to have to deal with one difficult situation after the next.
Each one of us is exceedingly selfish - because of Original Sin we are born into the world that way. We like things our way. We like to have things neatly in order. We like it to be comfortable and easy. We like the things that we want. How do you think you are going to be stripped of that? It is not something you can do by yourself. How can a selfish person strip himself or herself of being selfish? You can't! So the Lord has to do it, and He will do it by providing for us lots of means by which we are going to have to do things we do not want to do. Things are going to happen to us that we do not want and they are not going to happen in the way that we would prefer them to happen. Then we are stripped of ourselves because we have to do what we do not want to do. As we learn to do that over and over and over again, we learn to become selfless. That has to be laid upon our shoulders; those kind of nails have to be put into our flesh; we would never do it to ourselves.
But this is the way we gain wisdom. It is wisdom that Solomon prayed for and God blessed him for that. If the Lord were to speak to you this morning from the tabernacle and say, "Ask for anything. Ask of Me a favor, whatever it is that you want," what would we ask for? The Lord blesse
d Solomon because he did not ask for riches, he did not ask for a long life, he did not ask for the life of his enemies; but rather, he asked for wisdom so that he could serve the people of God.
You too have been entrusted with the care of the people of God. For those of you who are parents, immediately and directly you are entrusted with the care of these beautiful little souls that have been given to you by God. If you are a married person, you are also entrusted with the soul of the other person who has given himself or herself to you and whose care you have taken to yourself. If you have a supervisory position at work, you are entrusted with the care of the souls beneath you. Whatever the circumstances may be, each one of us somewhere along the line is entrusted with the care of others, whether that be family or friends, persons in the workplace, whatever it might be.
So we need to ask ourselves, "What would I ask for? Would I ask for the grace and the ability to take care of the people God has entrusted to me, to be able to serve them well and to do what is best for them? Or would I selfishly ask for something for myself? Would I ask so that I can have what it is that I want?" You see, if we find ourselves asking for things that are completely selfish, we understand then exactly why it is that God has to crucify us, why it is that we must be conformed to Jesus Christ Crucified: because it is the only way we are going to die to self so that we can live for God and for those entrusted to our care.
Now what happens is that we fight it. Most of us even get angry at God when these things happen to us. Some people even walk away from their faith; then when they hear a statement like "All things work together for the good," they stomp their feet and they walk off angry and say, "That is not true." But it is true, if we would see it from a different perspective. If we are looking at it selfishly and we say, "I did not get what I wanted," then we would have to say, "See, all things did not work together for the good as I determined the good to be." But all things work together for the good if we are willing to do it God's way, if we are willing to see what He is asking of us, because He wants only the very best. We want what we think is the best and usually it is what we think is the best for ourselves. Even in a moment of apparent charity where we are thinking about the good of the other, because of our limited ability we are not always able to see what is truly the best. And so we do not always get what we ask for, even if it is for the good of someone else, because God does not merely want their good—He wants what is their best. If He has a better way, a more perfect plan, something which will the serve the needs of those people even better than what we were asking for, He will not answer the prayer the way we ask for it, but rather, He will simply do what is the best and answer our prayer in a way that we would not even be able to ask because we did not have the ability to be able to see what was truly the best.
So what we need to be able to do is learn how to pray and ask God, not for specific things necessarily, but for His Will, to be able to cooperate with Him, for the grace to be able to seek and to do what is best, for the grace to do His Will in all things. But then you must be ready and willing to brace yourself for what is to come, because it will be the Cross. That is the greatest gift that God can offer to any of us. Sadly, most of us reject it when it comes because we do not see it as a gift; rather, we see it as a punishment. We ask, "Why is God punishing me? These things that happen, obviously it must be a punishment because of what I've done." All I can do is look at them and say, "Why do you think God would do that? God is blessing you if He has given you the Cross, not punishing you." God, in His love, wants to make you perfect and, therefore, is blessing you and giving to you a share in the Cross of His Son.
From that Cross comes wisdom. From that Cross comes knowledge and understanding. From that Cross is going to come all the gifts of the Holy Spirit. The Lord says, "The gifts are going to be made manifest when you are crushed underneath the Cross, when you are humble enough to allow them to flow through you and to radiate so that you will give glory to God and not to yourself." But only looking back in hindsight are we able to see the good and the value and the gift. Then, learning from those lessons, we will be able to understand those words of Saint Paul that all things - all things - work together for the good of those who believe...
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.
From the Gospel of the Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
by Janet Klasson BSP
”Martha, burdened with much serving, came to him and said, 'Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving? Tell her to help me.'”
Who of us, when reading the story of Mary and Martha, can not sympathize with poor Martha, left to do all the work while her sister sat at the feet of the Lord? Having come from a large family I can tell you that those who sat around while the others worked were not easily excused or forgiven. They had better have a cast on a major limb if they wanted to get out of the dishes!
Family dynamics aside, and with all due respect to holy St. Martha, there is an attitude in the above excerpt that bears pondering. It is an attitude that is prevalent in our society today and I'm sure you have noticed it, perhaps even—during a thorough examination of conscience—in yourself. I am speaking of the epidemic of entitlement, the attitude that we somehow deserve more than we are being given, that our rights have been trampled, and that it's just not fair! Certainly, one of the Baals of this age is the Baal of entitlement.
As I read through the Sunday Mass readings for the month of July, I found examples of the opposite attitude in several places. In Genesis 18:27-28, notice how Abraham addresses the Lord:
“Abraham spoke up again: 'See how I am presuming to speak to my Lord, though I am but dust and ashes! What if there are five less than fifty innocent people? Will you destroy the whole city because of those five?'”
Abraham brings up a concern of his, but he prefaces it with an act of sincere humility, reminding himself of his own unworthiness to even address the Lord, let alone ask him for a favor. Abraham makes no demands but asks with deference and reverence. The Lord is pleased and responds with mercy.
The other passage that gives us a clue to the right attitude is Luke 11:9-13:
"And I tell you, ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. What father among you would hand his son a snake when he asks for a fish? Or hand him a scorpion when he asks for an egg? If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the Father in heaven give the holy Spirit to those who ask him?"
Again, we see asking, not demanding, as getting the loving attention of the Father. We see a Father who knows how to give good gifts to his children, who knows their needs and will see to them. This passage encourages us to trust in the goodness of our Abba.
In my family of eight siblings, you could often hear one of us crying, “How come SHE gets to and I don't?” My father, who knew that fairness had nothing to do with accounting and everything to do with providing for each one's immediate need, and who also had a wicked wit, would answer, “Because she's the favorite!” Of course that fed into our righteous indignation, but deep down, whether we admitted it or not, we knew that each one of us was the favorite in our time of need, and seeing that our indignation had no effect, we had no choice but to let it go.
An attitude of entitlement should have no place in a life of penance. God owes us nothing, and we owe him everything. Even on our best penitential day, we can only give him what he first gives us. There is a noticeable difference between the days I try to do it on my own power, and the days I humbly ask for the grace I need to get through the day's penance. I know exactly how much penance this weak sinner is capable of outside of grace, and that is absolutely none.
I learned from my earthly father that life is not fair, that all things are not equal, and that a father who loves us will give us all we need. Ask humbly and in trust, and you shall receive all the grace you need, exactly when you need it. Jesus we trust in you.
Janet Klasson BSP - Divine Mercy Chapter - Canada
From www.pelianito.stblogs.com November 26, 2008
Psalm 70:6 Here I am, afflicted and poor. God, come quickly! You are my help and deliverer. LORD, do not delay!
“My child, I am near to you at all times and especially when you are in need. The greater the need, the more I am ready to assist and provide. That is why, my child, you must have great confidence. Yes the time to come will be difficult, but you will see miracles never before seen on earth if you only place your trust in me and not in the fleeting things of this world. Prudence, yes, but generosity, hope, and love above all. Pray with great humility, my child. Show me your need and I will fill it. Go in peace.”
Heavenly Abba, we are but dust and ashes, but we have great confidence in your love for us and your desire to provide for our every need. Thank you for all you are doing and will do for us. Through Jesus in Mary, we trust in you. Amen.
Author: Janet Klasson
NO GREATER LOVE: by PAUL BEERY BSP - June 2010
“You should live in accord with the spirit and you will not yield to the cravings of the flesh. The flesh lusts against the spirit and the spirit against the flesh; the two are directly opposed. This is why you do not do what your will intends. My brothers, remember that you have been called to live in freedom – but not a freedom that gives free rein to the flesh.” (Galatians 5)
There are advantages to growing old. Chief among them is the prospect of an early encounter with the Lord of Glory, which seems far distant in one’s youth. The years bring experience and wisdom. It is for the young to learn from their elders. Here’s to the beauty of repentance.
When one is young and foolish, beset with raging hormones, the concept of avoiding sin is rather daunting. “I firmly resolve, with the help of Thy grace, to sin no more, and avoid the near occasions of sin.” Turns out that, “I firmly resolve to sin no more,” usually means until the next time. We know certain sins will likely re-occur because who is without some major weakness that is absolutely uncontrollable without the grace of God? Today this gross human weakness, whatever it may be, would most likely be called an addiction, since the concept of sin is mostly lost on “modern man.” But we know what it is, and it’s the ugly part of our lives.
All of us have to deal with our major faults; some privately, others publicly, as they become known one way or the other. The sins of some poor souls are synonymous with their names, like Mary Magdalene, or St. Augustine. Others, like our holy father St. Francis, are known only to God. Perhaps they have not revealed themselves at their worst, and we are left to wonder about their interior life, especially since they accuse themselves of being the world’s worst sinners. There has to be a basis for that statement; we know that we all fall short of the goal.
It’s no secret that the worst afflictions of men are sex and power (I’m afraid I can’t speak for women here, knowing it would be extremely dangerous to even try). Many men are well known for a personal sexual “addiction.” And countless others will do anything in the political realm to attain power through fraud and deceit, or involve entire nations in war. Combine the two, lust for sex and power, and the result is usually disastrous, as history clearly teaches.
Most of us never attain such notoriety, however, nor do we seek it. But we all suffer from the same human condition, and we can lead just as wretched a life as the most famous “public” sinner. Man sees merely the external, and cannot look into the heart. Even heart surgeons don’t have a clue. For God searches the mind, and probes the depths of the heart. Thank God only God can know what is in our hearts, and will judge justly! That’s why from earliest youth, one of my major goals has been to live a life pleasing to God – a great blessing. In one sense, nothing else matters. If we live so as to please God, all else will fall into place, as in the famous phrase of St. Augustine: “Love, and do what you will.”
Well, there are many things we do that we do not will. St. Paul knows all about how the flesh wars against the spirit, and, “This is why you do not do as your will intends.” I’d like to share how the war has gone in my own life, because it’s no secret that for most men, lust is a serious problem. Jesus clearly understood this: “If you lust after a woman, you have already committed adultery with her in your heart.” Two of the Ten Commandments deal with the issue. In Mark 7:21, half of the vices coming from the human heart deal directly or indirectly with sexual sin. Since the Sexual Revolution of the Sixties, sex without consequences has been the driving force in the world. Sex without consequences explains the feminists’ goal of abortion on demand. It explains the homosexual agenda, the utterly extreme position of people proud to identify themselves by their sexual orientation. It’s impossible to be more of a slave to lust than that!
It also explains why we have sex education in our public schools, starting as early as kindergarten. Can’t mention the name of God, but teaching about the goodness of lust is mandatory. We live in a sex-saturated society, with sex as god, and occasions of sin abound even for the most determined person who seeks to live a chaste and holy life.
But here’s the good part. As the sands of time grind to their inevitable conclusion, we don’t all become dirty old men. I personally have found what others would call “old age” to be quite refreshing! The hormones no longer rage. Not in the same manner, anyway. One has seen it all, so to speak, and with maturity and wisdom, one realizes that indeed, “There is nothing new under the sun.” Why waste time and energy seeking that which no longer matters? One can be well aware of that in spirit, but will the flesh cooperate?
As mentioned in the March article, I had a major operation: removal of the prostate because of a very invasive and virulent form of cancer which necessitated the removal of tissue around it as well. Turns out a follow-up PSA test disclosed there are still cancerous cells in the area. So not only did I lose a major lust-inducing organ, I am now undergoing (female) hormone therapy. The doctor said the cancer feeds on testosterone, and estrogen gets rid of the testosterone, or something to that effect. We all know by personal experience that the real war of the ages has been the battle between testosterone and estrogen, and now it is going on inside of me! How’s that for a switch? As my niece rather amusingly asked, “Are you feeling more nurturing yet?”
I don’t know about more nurturing, but I do know that I have a whole different attitude toward the demons of lust. I feel free from the next imminent fall from grace, free from the tyranny of the flesh. The playing field has been leveled, so to speak. It is quite liberating, a new experience that is very enjoyable. I think of the crippled man who tried to get into the pool for 38 years (John 5). What did Jesus say to him after he was cured? “You have been cured. Give up your sins, or something worse may happen to you.” Wow, is that finally possible? “My brothers, remember that you have been called to live in freedom.” Freedom, after more than 38 years.
Along with other physical complications, the pace of life for me has slowed considerably. It’s very difficult to no longer be able to do what I could always do quite effortlessly. Mowing the lawn is a challenge, or walking up three flights of stairs. I can relate to the handicapped and elderly, having never felt “elderly” before. The clouds are gathering, the days are getting shorter for it takes longer to do everything. The cold is colder, the heat is hotter, and the humidity torments worse than ever. Perhaps it’s just the hot flashes. Yet I wouldn’t change my current situation for all the tea in China. It’s nearing the sunset time of life, and I rejoice in it!
I look forward to the prospect of meeting the Creator who has laid out an intriguing Plan of Life that each of us discover as we pass through one part after the other, with new experiences and challenges along the way. It’s a great adventure filled with unexpected thrills and chills, but also great falls and spills. Living in a Fallen World would be a daunting task for the most holy among us. For a weak and frail weakling, only the grace of God will suffice. And I think that’s exactly what we are supposed to learn. There’s a reason Jesus said: “Without Me you can do nothing!” How long does it take to learn that lesson, that power is made perfect in weakness? How about a lifetime! In the end, God always comes through. He made us, His we are. Sometimes I feel like a plaything in His Hands. But He will not allow us to fall too far if we have faith, even that of a tiny mustard seed. All this becomes clear with the wisdom that comes from God Alone.
It is a wonderful grace, entering the final phase of life, preparing for heaven. Now repentance is more meaningful, being more “doable.” There are many more opportunities for penance, of a kind never before encountered. I look forward to a new intimacy with the Lord in prayer. Prayer and penance: just what the Rule of St. Francis stands for! I feel right at home. Some would dread coming to this stage, seeing it as the end of life. But to me it’s a new beginning, a chance to live in accord with the Spirit, share with others the beauty of the Way. It’s well worth a lifetime of perseverance to attain the cherished goal of eternal life with our God of Love!
Paul Beery BSP
Morning Star Chapter