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Stella Matutina, the Brothers and Sisters of Penance of St. Francis blog
The Brothers and Sisters of Penance of St. Francis
Stella Matutina

March 31, 2007

Let us fly!

Filed under: Morning Star — Bruce @ 10:17 am

Flightless rear fledges, only guiding things,
thought in error strong when empty of power,
the gift of flight comes from Godly wings
beating tirelessly; through them spirits would flower.

And we live our lives in the power of our commitments, whatever they are, for every man commits to something even if it is never to get committed! We, if we wish to be followers of St. Francis, do so by striving to live the tenets of the lifestyle he gave us as our response and commitment to live the Gospel. Through this manner of living we seek Union with the Lord. The First Rule of the Third Order of 1221 was designed to “feather our wings??, not our tails. It does give us the spiritual tools to grow in holiness. For the simple fact is that souls are like birds. As depicted in the dove at the start of this section, our souls can fly without those tail feathers, but not without those wing feathers.
This entire analogy, was the cause of this poem. There was a man who was on a fishing trip in Northern Minnesota in the Spring of 1990. A robin wandered into the entryway of the cabin where he was staying. As he tried to capture the bird to release it he grasped its tail and began carrying it towards the door. The bird did not wait to get to the door. It flapped its wings and flew away leaving all its tail feathers in his hand! Every single feather! The man was absolutely incredulous to see it fly to the top of a tree nearby quite content to be free!
The simple fact, that the leaders of every Order in the world should know, is that people don’t need excessive guidelines, constitutions, books, or statutes to advance in holiness. They don’t even need Rules of life except that they will create their own Rule of life if they are not given one. Hence, the Lord, who knows the heart of man well , gave us all the one Rule, the Gospel. And if we were not fallen, we would not even need the Gospel for it would be written in our consciences and we would never violate our consciences.
The other Rules, given to us by the Saints, which now includes so many and diverse Rules as to defy summation and includes the Franciscan charisma through the Rule of 1221 among others, all simply confirm and embellish the Gospel. They make it easier to see the Gospel and live if for particular groups of people in particular ways, which simply recognizes that “The body of Christ is His Church.?? (Eph 1:23), and it, like any body, has many members which coexist and function together as one person.
So, the First Rule of the Third Order of St. Francis of 1221 was given to us lay people to show us how to live the Gospel. St. Francis was not interested in having us live a Rule. He wanted us to live the Gospel and that is the intent of his Rules for any of his Orders. To live the Gospel, that is the key to holiness, and that is no “child’s play?? except, perhaps, a child of God. Walking is fine, but to be saints we must learn to fly! We should all, everywhere, remember that the power of flight lies in our wings! Prayer, ministry, fasting, sacraments amidst joy!

March 10, 2007

Focus on the important things!

Filed under: Morning Star — Bruce @ 8:58 am

Hoping in mind and deed for Jesus,
and for Him does glide and soar,
songs on air, wings sing sweetly for us,
of things that matter more.

Responding to the grace and inspiration of the Holy Spirit, who has predestined us with both the call and the capacity to be with Him forever, should be the focus of our life. The call and the promise are both given by the Spirit of God in whom we must all be born again, because “No one can see the reign of God unless he is begotten from above.?? (Jn 3:3) Excessive business; burdensome readings; and endless regulations and writings including books, unless they are our occupation in the world or speak to us of God, are virtually useless for spiritual growth. St. Francis used to say “...books are bad and will ruin the Order. I would not allow anyone to become a Friar Minor unless He is content with being able to say the Our Father.??
Our hearts and minds must be centered in Jesus. Unless we are careful we can put anything, absolutely anything, before Christ, and we have all been warned repeatedly not to do that, by the Lord Himself, who warned us that “Whoever loves father or mother, son or daughter, more than me is not worthy of me.?? (Matt. 10: 37) And if the Lord says this of “father or mother, son or daughter?? what would he say of other things? St. Paul says how it should be with us when he states: “For I am certain that neither death nor life, neither angels nor principalities, neither the present nor the future, nor powers, neither height nor depth nor any other creature, will be able to separate us from the love of God that comes to us in Christ Jesus , our Lord.?? (Rom. 8: 38-39) He has come to us; He loves us; and He is ours if we seek Him. He ordained it.

March 2, 2007

Destroy earth’s bounds…

Filed under: Morning Star — Bruce @ 10:12 am

Prayer, ministry, fasting, sacraments amidst joy,
give it peaceful power, and speed to lift,
Earth journey’s bounds to destroy,
moving life through the ancient rift.

The Lord has never had an interest in keeping His servants busy in the world with the things of the world for “No servant can be the slave of two masters; he will hate one and love the other; he will be loyal to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money?? (Lk 16:13). And the Lord told St. Francis once, when he asked how he could be his servant, “Know that you are my servant when you speak, think, and do holy things?? . So we need to know and seek out holy things and do them for the Love of God, knowing then that Jesus will call us not just his servants, but also his friends (Jn 15:14-16).
What are these holy things? The corporal and spiritual works of mercy framed in a sacramental, Eucharistic life of penance, prayer, and commitment to Jesus through His Mother and St. Francis.
We should all know from Scripture, if not from our own experience, and also from the Word that the Lord has told us, that “You need patience to do God’s will and receive what he has promised.?? (Heb. 10:36) So we should be patient, diligent, and confident for the Lord himself has said “ I know my sheep?? (Jn. 10:14), “and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish. No one shall snatch them out of my hand. My Father is greater than all… and there is no snatching out of his hand.?? (Jn. 10: 27-29) So the Lord will not lose us if we try to live a holy life for Love of Him. He will come to us and give us Himself within and in Him we may then rest.
And time here moves so fast. Scripture tells us that “ In the Lord’s eyes, one day is as a thousand years and a thousand years are as a day. The Lord does not delay in keeping his promise, though some consider it ‘delay’. Rather, he shows you generous patience, since he wants none to perish but all to come to repentance.??(2 Pet. 3:8,9). Though for us life can look long and we delay even if He does not, in giving ourselves completely to Him in our lives even though we all know that pleasure is fleeting and bad times follow good. Why do we delay? “God has saved us and has called us to a holy life, not because of any merit of ours but according to his own design?? (2 Tim 1:9)
We need to be mindful then that we are all destined to live forever but we have a say in where we are to live, i.e. heaven or hell. We all have to “Make ready the way of the Lord, clear him a straight path.?? ( Mark 1:3) so he can bring us to himself knowing that “When he does, he will repay each man according to his conduct.?? (Matt. 16:27) And as St. Peter said “ You are not to spend what remains of your earthly life on human desires, but on the will of God.?? (1 Pet. 4:2) So let us begin by committing ourselves to live a holy life through our personal commitments to live the life Jesus gave us through St. Francis, for the Love of God, for till now we have done nothing, and then, having so committed ourselves, we know that “Whoever puts his hand to the plow but keeps looking back is unfit for the reign of God.?? (Lk. 9:62) and so we should keep striving to live it ever more perfectly knowing a great reward awaits us, the Lord Himself, forever ours. We cannot plow a straight path to God if we keep looking back.
With the Gospel in hand souls only need prayer, penance, and not merely conversion, but mortification of the senses and spirit, united in faith to Christ, to advance in holiness. From these things Christian action in our families, the Church, and the world will flow. Such “Christian action?? is not contained in writing anywhere, not even the writing of the Gospel, because the Gospel too is just words unless we act on it. Christian Action is us acting out the impulses of our Faith in our daily lives in the world while recognizing that “faith that does nothing in practice. It is thoroughly lifeless.?? (James 2:17) Holiness rests in seeking out the Will of God, and this is the Will of God, “have faith in the One whom he sent?? (Jn. 6:29), and recognize that if you have faith you have work to do in the world and in your families, and can be confident in prayer, for “You will receive all that you pray for?? (Matt. 21:22).

February 17, 2007

peacefully, through striving…

Filed under: Morning Star — Bruce @ 9:55 am

My soul invisible, silent but real,
moves, but not effortlessly
as I see on modern wings of steel,
but peacefully, through striving, towards holy Thee.

So salvation comes to us as we move through our lives and grow in the knowledge of God, but not without effort. For “from the deep recesses of the heart?? (Mark 7:21) comes who we are and what we must work on and with. If our fruit is good , for it “must endure?? (Jn. 15:16), we have a nice start on things but must always be watchful having been told that “When you have done all you have been commanded to do, say ‘We are useless servants. We have done nothing more than our duty.’ ?? (Lk. 17:10). For this reason St. Francis used to always say “Brothers, let us begin, for till now we have done nothing.??
And, if our fruit is not good we need to weep and mourn and strike our breasts and cry out to the Son of God like the blind Bartimaeus, saying, “Jesus, Son of David, take pity on me!?? (Mk. 10: 47) and “Give some evidence that we mean to reform.?? (Lk. 3:8) , for quite honestly, the Lord will “reap where He did not sow and gathers where he did not scatter.?? (Matt. 25:26) meaning we have free will and he will judge us on what we have done with it in our lives. Therefore, we all should be careful and really strive for holy things because Scripture says, “God has saved us and has called us to a holy life?? (Tim. 1:9) and if we do not strive to be holy, and this lifestyle of the First Rule is holy and can help us on our journey, we may “lose even the little we have.?? (Matt. 25:29) and will be only worthy to be cast into “that everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels!?? (Matt. 25:41)
So we all have the opportunity to be saved for Scripture says that “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.?? (Rom. 10:13), knowing that in the Lord “not one of them was lost, none but him who was destined to be lost in the fulfillment of Scripture.?? (Jn. 17:12) Jesus will lose none of what His Father gives Him so that “where I am, there my servant will be.?? (Jn. 12: 26). And if we did not have the opportunity to be saved we would not be judged. But that is not the case and so we should all be vigilant for we know not when the Master will return, and “That servant is fortunate who the Lord finds busy when he returns. He will put him in charge of all his property.?? (Lk. 12: 35-44). We are busy if we are about the things of God.

January 21, 2007

Opportunity covers me…

Filed under: Morning Star — Bruce @ 10:19 am

COMMENTARY ON WINGSONG

Soundless like air moves my way,
opportunity covers me like water the sea,
and for me this time, scarcely a day
is life, as living here I flee.

We all come into life and move through our lives seldom giving any thought to the fact that we live. God in his goodness, and without permission from us, has given us life. By His Will we have each and all been predestined to live, to exist, and at that, forever. Hence, as the Lord Himself once said, “It is not you who have chosen me, it was I who chose you…?? ( Jn. 15:16)
This will always be a mystery. Why would an infinitely intelligent, all-knowing being, i.e. God, create a creature like man, that he knew would rebel against Him, except that He loves us. Hence, our only response to Him can be love because “ God is Love?? ( 1 Jn 4:16) and “all things are possible with God?? (Lk. 18:26), and even “If we are unfaithful he will still remain faithful, for he cannot deny himself.?? (2 Tim. 12,13). So he preserves us in His Love and even saves us from our fallen nature and it was for that reason He sent His “only Son, that whoever believes in him may not die but may have eternal life.?? (Jn. 3:16) and through Him we might be saved because “through this faith you may have life in His name.?? (Jn. 21:31) St. Francis was always struck with and moved within and for the Love of God.

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