MEMBERS AT THE RETREAT
From Left to right, front: Martha Baez-Elmer of
Escondido, CA., Dorothy Winczewski, Leona Trost, and Rebecca Maness
of Our Lady of Sorrows Chapter in Coon Rapids, Minnesota; Father
Anthony (Tony) Cirignani O.F.M., Visitor to the BSP; Dolores Bichsel
of Morning Star Chapter. Left to right, back: Sheila Mesiere of
Escondido, CA and their Chapter there; Shelley and Bruce Fahey begin_of_the_skype_highlighting end_of_the_skype_highlighting, Paul
Beery, Donna Welter and Ted Welter, all of Morning Star Chapter in
St. Paul, Minneapolis.
MESSAGE— FATHER TONY’S TALKS AT THE RETREAT
“Lord, make me an instrument of
your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love. Where is injury,
pardon. Where there is doubt, faith. Where there is despair, hope,
and where there is darkness, light. Grant, Oh Divine Master that I
might not seek so much to be consoled as to console others; not so
much to be loved as to love others; not so much to be understood, as
to understand others, for it is giving that we receive, in pardoning
that we are pardoned, and in dying that we are born to eternal
life.” St. Francis
PRAYER OF ST. FRANCIS
(Not written by St. Francis, but
attributed to him)
main focus of our Christian lives is to become positive, holy,
people of God. These qualities are what will let us help the Church
and our neighbors to become more effective and filled with peace. So
we need to ask ourselves several questions relative to this, as are
posed by the Peace Prayer itself.
What positive qualities do
I have, and how can I use them to follow in the footsteps of Jesus
Christ? The Lord said that where our hearts are there is our
treasure. We should be nourished by the growth and well being of
others and our efforts to promote that, in our families and in the
world. The real question we need to answer to attain this is: “How
is Jesus Christ Lord and Divine Master of my life? If we can affirm
within our hearts that this is true, and if we work to make it real
we have made progress on this first mission of the Peace Prayer. We
are becoming positive and holy people of God.
THE WOLF OF
need to sow love where there is hatred. St. Francis loved the hated
wolf of Gubbio, and as a result he not only tamed the wolf, but also
the people of Gubbio, who hated the wolf. This is a main theme of
the Peace Prayer. Not like the 60’s, my years, where love was
taunted everywhere but it really meant love as a liberation from
Christian values. Freedom to do anything. That is not who we are to
Today there is a major marriage crisis. Marriage is
under fire and being redefined in a very godless way. We need to
stand up for what is right. The marriage of one man and one woman
under God, and in God. In this way we will better witness to
Christian love and service. What will I do if this commitment gets
difficult? We need to ponder this.
One of the biggest ways
to sow love where there is hatred is to forgive injuries against
ourselves by others. It is hard to forgive for us human beings. But
when we forgive we bring on a new dimension to this suffering. We
bring on the peace of Christ. We become peacemakers and Blessed are
the Peacemakers the Lord said. It is something beautiful to
experience the unconditional forgiveness of another person whom we
have offended. It heals wounds. The questions we need to answer for
ourselves are: Do I resent someone? Family, neighbor, or coworker?
What choices can I make that will bring closure to the problems I am
having with them? Often it is a simple matter of forgiving them.
That brings love to where there was hatred. And, when can I show
mercy? If we don’t show mercy to others we will not receive it from
God. Haven’t we all got positive memories of when we were shown
mercy, whether great or small?
is an emotion that saves us from tragedy. When was the last time we
had a tragedy? We all have them. What gave us hope when we had the
tragedy? How can we bring hope to others?
and Faith are the two greatest gifts that give us joy and light.
Among our friends we often find beacons of light? We do well to
ponder their gifts. To be grateful to them for what they do and how
they change the atmosphere of sadness into one of joy. It should
lead to ask pondering the question of how we can become beacons of
light to others. What resources do we have that will allow us to do
that? Are we keepers of the Faith in our families? If we are we can
bring joy to sadness, and sow light in the darkness of people’s
lives. How would you describe your personal image of God? This image
affects how we can spread joy around us.
‘black hole’ of the ego is contained in the words: “I”, “me”, and
“my”. From these we become focused on ourselves and can live in a
self-centered world. If we use these words a lot the world revolves
around us and that makes ‘me’ the center of my universe. That ‘black
hole’ sucks all of life into ourselves. Our ego thrives and does
this. We need to break out of this way of thinking. We need to live
for others. The message of Jesus Christ, and his servant, St.
Francis, is to live for others.
St. Francis did this with
the lepers. They had to wear bells in the times of St. Francis to
let people know they were coming so they could get out of the way.
St. Francis learned to love the lepers, when he broke out of his own
universe and began to live for others. The lepers were some of the
‘others’ he lived for. He was an unspoken example to his age.
The road of the Master moves us out of ourselves. His call
breaks down our ego. His call us into His Presence, and it is that
presence that brings us to focus on others beginning with Him. How
can we serve Him? How can we do His Will and not our own. That was
the great value of the call to obedience which is one of the vows
religious people take. To be obedient to others; the Church and
their leaders, and by that to kill their own wills and live for
others. How do I feel about the power of presence? In others, and in
myself? We need to move out of our selfishness and into the
emptiness of others. In that there is joy, and
IN DYING WE
ARE BORN TO ETERNAL LIFE
Asceticism means ‘to practice’. If we seek to
become ascetical we seek to move out of practice and into doing the
things that are holy. We need to move to ‘thee’, not ‘me’.
The fact is that if we do our best to live our Faith in the
Church we can be assured of a light sentence in Purgatory. Death is
the finish line for this life. It is a beginning more than an end.
We can choose to run from death or welcome it. St. Francis called it
Sister Death, and he ran to greet her. Eternal life is to remain
forever focused on the ‘Thee’. So this again leads to us asking
ourselves some key questions.
What do I need to let go of
right now in my life to lead a better Christian life? Certainly if
we take on this examination we will find some ways we can improve.
We need to make these decisions first before they will happen.
How can the penance of surrender help me do that? We don’t
consecrate ourselves to Christ. We surrender to Christ, if we are
spiritually mature. He is the God of all things and all situations,
especially in our lives. So we need to make a good act of surrender
to God and His Will to grow spiritually.
How do I feel about
my own death? Do you ponder it? How do you feel about it? Is it a
positive? Or a negative with you? This meditation is most
worthwhile. Have we reached the point that death is ‘sister’? Or do
we run from it as the world values? If we can get to the point we
look forward to our death as a beginning in Christ we have made
progress. What experiences in my life will help me to answer the
call of the Peace Prayer in my own life? That is a meditation worth
pursuing. Say it daily.
Visitor to the BSP
is the father to the act. Our thoughts, while pure spirit, become
reality just as God, who is pure spirit, brings everything into
reality. We need to use our thoughts to glorify God, who knows our
thoughts like we know the spoken word.
It goes something like
this. We become what we think, if we persist in so thinking. Our
thoughts will inevitably transcribe themselves in our actions. If we
think we want to be successful at something, anything for that
matter, we will begin to do the things to get there. We will study
the surroundings, and people, who can help us reach our
So it is with our spiritual life. What are your
thoughts about your spiritual life? Is it important to you? Do you
have a prayer life? Are you virtuous? Is virtue even important to
you? If you don’t have a prayer life, and if you are not in strong
pursuit of virtue, begin there. Start by desiring it. Then you will
do what you need to do to find it and create it in your life. You
will discover, on pondering the lives of Saints and holy people you
know that they spent time at prayer, and lead deliberately virtuous
lives. How did they do that? Read up on them. Because they made time
for prayer, and virtue, in their lives. Look at your own life and
see if you have made that time. It does take time to pray. It takes
even more time to grow in virtue. To fast and do good works for
instance. To speak kindly to others always.
God has given us
all a limited amount of time, and he has not told us how to spend
it. He will however tell us how we decided to spend it when we are
judged. Every minute of it.
So, we need to DECIDE to give
time to prayer. And, more than that, we need to DECIDE to become
holy. What? We can decide to be holy? The only answer to this
question is a big YES!
Unless you decide to be holy you will
not become holy. This is easy to say as it is well established, in
the Church and among the Saints, that unless you want to be holy you
will not be holy. This is true because to want to be holy is already
holy, itself! Bravo! Step one accomplished! The Lord said: “Blessed
are those who hunger and thirst for holiness; they shall be
satisfied.” ( Mt 5:6)
So, in your thoughts hunger and thirst
for holiness. Make a decision to pray more. Recognize the elements
of a holy life. They are the elements of the Rule of 1221, the Rule
of the BSP, by the way. You need look no further. That is why St.
Francis gave us the Rule.
The rich young man of the gospel
asked the Lord, “What must I do to be saved?”, because it is said,
he wanted to justify himself. The Lord said, “You know the
commandments, and you have the prophets. Heed them.” The young man
said, I have done that. Then the Lord “Looked at him with love.” God
is love. He said, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you own,
and come follow me.” (Mt 19:21-22 ) The rich young man walked away.
He couldn’t do that.
We walk away often from what we must do
to be holy. That is so easy. It demands nothing of us.
should all ask ourselves three questions. 1. Do I want to be holy?
If the answer is ‘no’, forget it. You won’t become holy. 2. What
must I do to be holy? For the Lord said we should “Be holy as your
Father in heaven is holy.” (Mt 5:48) We can spend some time at this
to our benefit. A good way to start is to talk to your priest, or a
holy person you know. Lay down your guard, and ask them what you
must do to be holy. And, 3. Am I holy? The answer to this is always
‘NO’, in capital letters, for the Lord said LK 17:10 “When you have
done all you have been commanded, say, 'We are unprofitable
servants; we have done what we were obliged to do.'" (LK 17:10) We
can never say we are holy. That way we always keep trying to grow in
holiness. We have never ‘arrived’. In fact we do well to diminish
ourselves, and our self esteem, in every situation.
thought is the father of the act. Today, think about becoming holy.
Tomorrow, start doing it.
May the Lord bless and lead us all.
Shelley Fahey BSP.
NO GREATER LOVE:
by PAUL BEERY BSP -
He had dismissed the crowd, Jesus went up on a mountainside by
Himself to pray.” (Matthew 14:23)
reason to go on a retreat is to imitate Jesus, to pray to the Father
in secret, for there is much time to be alone with God. The Prior
Lake Retreat Center is a fabulous place to experience “the one thing
necessary.” I was saddened that there were not more people able to
attend and receive the great spiritual nourishment all of us were
granted by the grace of God. I hope to live to see the day that
there will be “standing room only” as at a sold-out baseball game!
Along with ample prayer-time, it was so good to see old friends
again, some of whom we meet only once a year. God has granted us the
special gift of friendship in life, and I trust the spiritual
friendships we engage in will last for all eternity.
Tony gave an excellent retreat. He outlined Franciscan spirituality
as defined by Fr. Benedict Groeschel, an excellent authority on the
subject. Most of my comments will revolve around the following three
aspects of Franciscan spirituality as given by Fr. Benedict: it is
MARIAN, EUCHARISTIC, and fully in tune with the MAGISTERIUM of the
Marian: Fr. Tony is the perfect person to
explain how Franciscan spirituality is Marian, since he is
associated with both Our Lady of Fatima, and Our Lady of Guadalupe
Apostolates. There are few things that can recommend a man more than
his association with the Mother of God, and our spiritual Mother. At
the end of his first conference on Friday evening, he showed us the
movie on Fatima: “The Thirteenth Day.” We need to be reminded
constantly of the intense Spiritual Warfare going on today, which
our Blessed Mother came to warn us of, while giving us the weapons
to fight it successfully: prayer and penance. Gosh, that sounds
familiar, doesn’t it?
Magisterium: “Francis himself,
as if to sum up his inner experience in a single word, found no
concept more pregnant with meaning that that of ‘penance.’ ‘Thus did
the Lord grant to me, Friar Francis, to begin to do penance.’
(Testament, I) So it was that he saw himself essentially as a
‘penitent,’ as it were, in a permanent state of conversion.
Abandoning himself to the Holy Spirit’s action, Francis was
converted ever more closely to Christ, transformed into a living
image of Him on the paths of poverty, love and mission. Formation
for the mission means that formation must be considered an ongoing
journey centered on the ability to let oneself be molded by the
Spirit, which cannot be based on anything except listening to the
Word in an atmosphere of intense and ceaseless prayer.” (Pope
Benedict XVI from his talk at Assisi, June 17, 2007, “Meeting with
the participants in the General Chapter of the friars minor
Conventual and the Community of the Sacred Convent in the Upper
Basilica of St. Francis,” celebrating 800 years since the conversion
of St. Francis).
Fr. Tony also commented on what Pope
Benedict said to some three thousand Franciscans gathered at the
Chapter of Mats last April in Assisi. “The Poverello became a living
Gospel, capable of attracting to Christ men and women of every
epoch, especially young people who prefer radicalism to half
measures.” They need to see the ideal lived out which they can see
and touch, people bearing witness to wholeness and holiness. I
obtained a copy of Pope Benedict’s address, and would like to quote
from it at length on obedience to the Magisterium at the time of St.
Francis, and now, when there is not only a lack of zeal for Holy
Orders and Religious life, but cultural opposition to all that is
good and holy..
Pope Benedict quotes St. Francis: “The Rule
and the Life of the Friars Minor is this, that is, to observe the
Holy Gospel of Our Lord Jesus Christ.” He goes on to say: “Pope
Innocent III recognized the evangelical authenticity of the proposal
of Francis and his companions and they were able to encourage their
commitment, also in view of the good of the universal Church.” Here
is where it gets interesting.
“Francis might also have
not gone to the Pope. Many religious groups were forming at that
time, and some of them were opposed to the Church as an institution,
or at least did not seek her approval. A polemical attitude to the
hierarchy would undoubtedly have gained Francis many followers.
Instead, he immediately thought of putting his journey and that of
his companions in the hands of the Bishop of Rome, the Successor of
This act reveals his authentic ecclesial spirit. The
Pope for his part might not have given his approval to
Francis’ life project either, perhaps fearing that little group of
friars might resemble the other heretical cliques of the time. On
the contrary, the Roman Pontiff was able to discern in it the
initiative of the Holy Spirit and accepted, blessed and encouraged
the nascent community.”
This is such an important point,
that any “nascent community” seek the blessing of the Magisterium of
the Church, as the Brothers and Sisters of Penance of St. Francis
have always done. There are plenty of “heretical cliques” out there
today, with a “polemical attitude to the hierarchy,” living by
principles inimical to the Gospel of Life. In our BSP morning
prayers we ask our Blessed Mother: “We beg you to obtain for us the
true spirit of the Gospel.” Marian and Magisterium, true hallmarks
of Franciscan spirituality!
Fr. Tony showed by example how
the Franciscan life is also Eucharistic. On Saturday we were
blessed to have the rector of the St. Paul Seminary, Msgr.
Callaghan, preside at the 4:00 PM Mass, where Brother Patrick Heath
professed his vows to the BSP rule of life, the Rule of 1221 from
St. Francis. So Fr. Tony proposed to have an early “private” Mass at
6:30 AM, and almost all of us attended. That was followed by one of
the two devotions he said were particular to Franciscans: the
Franciscan Crown (the other being the Way of the Cross). It was a
good thanksgiving prayer after receiving the Body and Blood of the
Lord in Holy Communion. What a beautiful way to start the day, in
Holy Communion with our God of Love! “My ways are not your ways,”
says the Lord. I love to study the ways of God.
have imagined that God would want to be so close to us, in such
com-union as to actually be within us! Can’t get much closer
than that! How blessed we are to receive the Lord in this way.
Francis recognized this fact to such a degree that he reverenced
priests who may not have been of the best character, for only
through them could he receive the Holy Eucharist. Many of our
separated brethren come home to the Catholic Church through their
longing to receive the Body of Christ, as the only way to fulfill
Christ’s invitation so thoroughly explained in John, Chapter
And of course Fr. Tony went through the Peace Prayer, to
show us how we can be better Instruments of Peace. He emphasized
that the Peace Prayer takes us through the long journey from
self-centeredness to being other-oriented. It so well expresses the
spirit of St. Francis, that his name has become attached to it, even
though the prayer originated sometime after 1900.
It is said
that the purpose of life is to be infused with the knowledge of God.
The BSP retreat is an opportunity to grow in divine wisdom, while
associating with people of like mind who truly seek the Lord in
holiness of life. It’s very difficult to put into words how
beneficial the time we spend together is for the good of our souls.
Those of us who take notes know how difficult it is to try to cover
even a small part of the retreat. Perhaps another article on the
Peace Prayer itself is in store, for it has become a much-loved
prayer, with good reason. Perhaps what I am trying to say is: please
come next year!
“Jesus went up on a mountainside by Himself
to pray.” Let us imitate Jesus, and “pray to the Father in secret,
and the Father who sees in secret, will reward
Paul Beery BSP
Morning Star Chapter
by Janet Klasson BSP
Even though I
was unable to attend the retreat this year, Bruce invited me to
contribute a newsletter item on the theme of this year's retreat:
Instruments of Peace.
came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those
who were near.” (Ephesians 2:17)
give what we do not have. That is to say, we cannot be instruments
of peace if we do not first of all possess peace. In lives that are
busy and beset with challenges, in a world that is fallen and
spiraling into decay, peace often seems out of reach, elusive, like
a wisp of fog that we can see but never quite grasp.
book Abandonment to Divine Providence, Fr. J.P. de Caussade
teaches that true peace is within our grasp. It begins with total
abandonment to God, something that seems at first glance to be far
easier said than done! But Fr. de Caussade explains very thoroughly
the necessity of it, and gives practical advice on how to live a
life abandoned to God. The book is a spiritual treasure and I
recommend it to all who are serious about growing in faith and
holiness. For the purposes of this article, I wish to examine a very
small passage that can help us to grow in peace so that we are
better able to become channels of peace in the world as St. Francis
calls us to be.
“May the peace of Jesus Christ be always with us,
and in us, since God does not act freely except in peaceful
This sentence alone should motivate us to do our
best to cultivate peace, and to root out all that disturbs our
peace. Be it worry, stress, busy-ness, or just daily life—if we do
not cultivate peace in every circumstance, we block the action of
God in our lives, and rob those around us of the peace we have been
called to spread.
“To keep yourself in this peace which will, I hope,
continually increase, there is no better way than always to
practice total abandonment, and that absolute resignation of which
I have already spoken to you. You will, without doubt, succeed, if
you never lose sight of the great and consoling truth that
nothing happens in this world but by the command of God, or at
least, with His divine permission; and that, whatever He wills, or
permits turns infallibly to the advantage of those who are
submissive and resigned. Even that which most disturbs our
spiritual plans changes into something better for
So we see that the key to peace is abandonment.
However, we cannot abandon ourselves to God unless we trust him
completely. If we know and believe that God is all-good,
all-powerful, and that he loves us, why do we fail to trust him?
Which of his attributes do we doubt? It is only when we have
explored our own weakness in this area, that we able to accept
everything that happens to us as a gift from God's loving hand.
This is not an easy lesson to learn since we can only learn
to trust God in darkness. It is one thing to trust him in time of
consolation, but it is in the fire of desolation that our trust is
put to the test and purified. It is in the furnace of affliction
that our trust becomes truly credible. In our darkest hour, we are
called to proclaim with the psalmist: “I trusted, even when I said,
'I am sorely afflicted.'” (Psalm 116:10) Jesus, the very Prince of
Peace, shows us what it means to live in total abandonment: "Father,
if you are willing, take this cup away from me; still, not my will
but yours be done." (Luke 22:42) He felt fully his distress, but he
surrendered in complete trust to the will of his Father, even in his
“Keep firmly by this great principle and the most
violent tempests will not be able to trouble the depth of your
soul, even though they may ruffle the surface by disquieting the
In this passage we see that to live in the peace
that comes from God, does not mean that we never feel “ruffled”.
Peace has nothing to do with feelings, and everything to do with
acceptance of the Divine Will in each moment. We may feel
exceedingly ruffled by circumstances, but our attitude and actions
must be “submissive and resigned”.
“To be satisfied with the present moment is to
relish and adore the divine will moving through all we have to do
and suffer as events crowd in upon us.”
The present moment is where we find God—always.
Eternity is not a “really long time”; it is the present
moment—forever! We possess heaven on earth when we cling to God in
the eternally present moment. That is when we become instruments of
peace—when the eternal presence of God is allowed to flow unimpeded
through us. Abandoned to his will, we may not even realize it is
happening, but as God is finally be able to act freely in us and
through us, we will see all around us the fruits of the peaceful
kingdom. We will have become instruments of peace and channels of
the Divine Will. And that, my friends, will be the first of many
To that end, let us pray with our Blessed Mother:
Fiat mihi. Secundum verbum tuum! Amen.
are taken from Abandonment to Divine Providence by JP de
Caussade, p. 120.)
BSP - Divine Mercy Chapter - Canada
www.pelianito.stblogs.com December 10, 2009
2:17 He came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to
those who were near.
“My child, a day will come when I
will gather all peoples to myself. Those who once were far from me
will dance with joy at finally living in my embrace. My beloved, do
not fear the days to come. Inhale the peace I give you and exhale it
to those around you and to the whole world. Remember how I breathed
on the Apostles in the upper room? In the same way, those who seek
to imitate me are a breath of peace and love in the world. Child,
remember this and live it. As you know, the world is in great need.”
My Jesus, Prince of Peace, breathe on me your sweet
breath of love and peace. By your grace, may every breath I take
make me an instrument of your peace to those around me and to the
whole world. Amen
TESTIMONY FROM BR. PATRICK ON THE BSP FORUMS
What a joy it
was to attend my first BSP retreat in beautiful Minnesota the land
of 10,000 lakes and also the State that my Father was born in. It is
a very beautiful State, except for the humidity.
It also was
an honor to meet face to face with our administrators Bruce and
Shelly Fahey and to meet one of our Visitors, Fr. Tony, and talk
with him. Also to meet two of the BSP members from the Escondido
California Chapter. Sheila Mesiere and Martha Elmer.
talks that Fr.Tony gave were very enlightening and I see the Peace
Prayer of St. Francis in a whole new light. The highlight of the
weekend was my Profession of Vows at Mass on Saturday which was
celebrated by Monsignor Aloysius Callaghan, along with Fr. Tony.
Especially when I was presented with the Cross and Crown of thorns.
It is a joy to be part of a Holy and Blessed Private Association of
I look forward to coming to many more retreats
in the future. and working hard to form a chapter here in Northern
Pax et bonum,
Brother Patrick Heath
Left to right,
top: Bruce Fahey begin_of_the_skype_highlighting end_of_the_skype_highlighting BSP, Father Anthony (Tony) Cirignani O.F.M.,
Monsignor Aloysius Callaghan. Left to right, bottom: Shelley Fahey
BSP, Brother Patrick Heath BSP, and a seminarian.
I, Brother Patrick Heath, vow that I will live to the
best of my means and ability, for all of my life, the Rule of 1221
that St. Francis gave us, in fulfillment of the Gospel and for the
Love of God. As part of my vow I promise to live the Gospel more
fully and to pursue more fervently the virtues of poverty, chastity,
and humility, which the Saints all loved and promoted. On this
journey, I ask the support and prayers of my family, my brothers and
Sisters in the Association, and the blessing of the
people attended the retreat this year. Of those, eleven were BSP
members, of which seven are professed, and five were professed SFO
members. The balance were visitors from the diocese. Mary Kay
Kennedy, a long standing attendee at our retreats decided to enter
the BSP at the retreat as an Associate, due to her age. She is 83.
Father Anthony (Tony) Cirignani O.F.M., one of the Visitors
of the BSP, did a beautiful job as retreat master this year. The
subject he spoke on was the Peace Prayer of St. Francis. A brief
summary of what he shared is covered in his comments in the
Visitor’s Message in this issue. Some pictures from the retreat
Kennedy, New BSP Associate Member
Californians: Left to right: Brother Patrick Heath, of Aptos, CA.,
Martha Baez-Elmer and Sheila Mesiere of Escondido, CA
A Group shot
of all those at the retreat on the beautiful grounds of the
Franciscan Retreats Center