Jesus' Crown of thorns, symbol of penitential lifestyle. We are committed to living the Franciscan Rule of 1221. We aren't a Third Order but a Lay Catholic Association. ...weaving a crown of thorns,
they placed it on Him. (Mk 15:17)

Welcome to

The BROTHERS AND SISTERS OF PENANCE

 

The Franciscan Association of The Brothers and Sisters of Penance of St.Francis (BSP) has a butterfly as its symbol. The Butterfly means the transforming union that we wish to attain, through a life of prayer, simplicity and self-denial. The BSP mottos are: 'Deny yourself, take your cross and follow me' and 'In the world, but not of it, for Christ'

   of
         St. Francis

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... in the world, but NOT of it, for Christ!

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Becoming another Jesus

Transformation means transformation into another Jesus. That is the vocation of all of us, to become another Jesus. It is a lifelong process which began at our baptism. Our transformation into another Jesus is the work of the Holy Spirit. We are all well on the road to transformation. We already have done much to allow ourselves to become another Jesus but we still have room for more transformation.

The great spiritual writers describe stages in transformation.

1 conversion also called purgation
2 purification also called illumination
3 transformation also called union

A very helpful book on this is "Guidelines for Mystical Prayer" by Ruth Burrows. She says there is a distinct difference between the stages, while others say they are a spiral ie when we finish stage 3 we start off again at stage 1 at a deeper level, and yet others say that there is some of all three stages in us always.

  1. This stage is firstly characterized by our being in control before the conversion or purgation. We choose what pleases us, so when we donít get what we want we grumble and complain. Things are judged by whether I like them or not. Bitterness may be an indication of this selfishness. The way we relate to God is our own way. In the other 2 stages we relate to God Godís way. Ruth Burrows describes this as a mist-bound island although it is not mist-bound to the inhabitant of this island who thinks it is beautiful and lovely. We are at peace in this stage and God is giving himself to us under the form of concepts and ideas we can cope with. There is a sense of well-being.

    Conversion or purgation at this stage means that if God is to take possession of us we must be drawn out of this security, we must lose control or hand over the control of our life to God. Will we allow God to draw us away or will we persist in staying where we are? We have to learn to take our hands off the controls. This means intelligent obedience to people and events and acceptance of discipline. It is recognising Godís hand in what happens to us. It is accepting our duties and refusing to evade. At this stage we experience the invitation to a change, the pull towards a new life, while also being aware of sinfulness and our resistance to change. St Augustine said Ďmake me chaste but not yetí.

    Is this similar to the prodigal son controlling his destiny and deciding to leave home for the land of promise?

  2. After some time we begin to feel less sure, less steady on our feet. What was the path before has become narrow. There is no other path. We begin to feel bewildered, losing our taste for prayer and spiritual things. Our general state at prayer is one of confusion, darkness, boredom, helplessness. We will have a painful knowledge of self and see ourselves as we really are; hollowness of our goodness, truth, virtues etc. Our ambitions are unmasked and we are called to renounce them. We are beginning to see God where we never thought he was, in what upsets our preconceived ideas of God. The tendency to criticize others will disappear and our hearts will become kind and compassionate. Now we are feeling abandoned by God, repeatedly failing to live the new life, experiencing dryness in prayer, aching for God, experiencing desolation and depression, alternating anguish and joy. The cause of the discomfort is that God is flooding us. St John of the Cross said that when the light is not shining you donít see the cobwebs (sinfulness) but when the light (God) is turned on you do. He also said that this stage is like a nurse (God) bringing us bitter medicine (our awareness of our sinfulness), we have to take the medicine to get better. We donít see every aspect of our sinfulness until God gets more space in our lives. Painful things in our past surface again. If something you thought you had healed comes up again, the reason is because you are still in need of more healing. The level of distress caused varies. If the distress is great, seeing a therapist of some kind may be necessary. What is happening is that anything that is an obstacle to our union with God is popping up.

    Many people undergo a great transformation sometime around mid-life. Things they placed their trust in no longer provide them with the security they had up to now. We become more passive, God becomes more active in our lives and we lose control. No one makes this transformation easily, everyone messes it up because we have conscious or unconscious resistance. It is like being back in school again. There are some things in our life that we will not be able to change. We will have to find a way to live with them.

    Is this similar to the prodigal son coming to his senses with the pigs and deciding to return home?

  3. Up to now we gave what we possessed, now ourself is being taken away and we become heaven on earth. Godís union with us is total, God is indwelling in us. There is a continual sense of the presence of God, joy even in suffering. "You alone are the holy one" becomes our prayer then.

    Is this similar to the prodigal son being back home with his father once more? The words of the father to the elder son, "all I have is yours" (Luke 15,31) surely are apt here.

A most interesting and helpful book applying the parable of the father and prodigal son and elder son to the lives of all of us is "The Return of the Prodigal Son" by Henri J.M. Nouwen. I have found it most beneficial for myself spiritually.

The journey inward has been described as the longest journey. There is a sense in which we could say that Jesus underwent this journey. He was with the Father (stage 1 of sorts) but left him to become one of us while maintaining his divinity (stage 2 of sorts) and now is raised high (stage 3 of sorts). Read Phil 2,6-11.

Jesus became lost to lead all of us lost ones to the Father. Let us continue this journey of transformation to become another Jesus.

Tommy Lane


The Butterfly is symbol of transforming union of the soul to God. God will give this grace to those faithful to walk the path of prayer and self-denial


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The Butterfly is symbol of transforming union of the soul to God. God will give this grace to those faithful to walk the path of prayer and self-denial