FROM THE WRITINGS ON ST. FRANCIS:
“If any man has a mind to come my way, let him renounce self" (Lk. 9:23)...But that is not enough, and so our Lord adds, “And take up his cross daily,” by the constant practice of mortification, so that he can say in the words of St. Paul, “With Christ I hang upon the Cross” (Gal. 2:19); “we carry about continually in our bodies the dying state of Jesus” (2Cor 4-10), because “those who belong to Christ have a crucified nature, with all of its passions; all of its impulses” (Gal. 5:24).
Saint Francis as depicted by a German naif painter
Note that our Lord says that his follower must take up his cross daily; a man must take up the cross of penance anew every day, so that he can say, “Now I resolve to begin afresh” (Ps.76:11).
This was what St. Francis did; when he lay dying, he said that he was only beginning then to do something. “My brothers,” he said to the friars (and to us), “we must begin now to do something. Up to now we have done very little.” Christ’s Cross has the power to give a person new life; “though the outward part of our nature is being worn down, our inner life is refreshed from day to day” (2Cor 4,16).
How many times have I heard that this one Scripture, Luke 9:23? It is the guiding one for this Association. Then he said to all, "If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” Only with this reading did it dawn on me that I do feel ‘refreshed’ each day living these verses by living the Rule to which I have pledged. Thank you Lord!
This verse, Lk. 9:23, cannot be exhausted. It is part of the history of the call to form the Association. It demands we begin anew each day as St. Francis admonished us on his deathbed. It is endless like the entire Gospel. Fr. Valerius Messerich O.F.M., our first Visitor, has spoken of it at many of our meetings, and he has said it is the perfect Scripture for us to meditate on. It is the Scripture of our call to penance.
We are a people of new beginnings, and these new beginnings are directed towards embracing Christ more fully, and the Gospel ever more perfectly. Every word of the Gospel is sacred. Every word calls us ever to greater perfection. As reflected in this writing on St. Francis, this call to live the Gospel is a call to be calm to the end of our lives. To see the future in Christ, for living the Gospel we live for Christ and are called to be fearless, “Do not be afraid any longer, little flock, for your Father is pleased to give you the kingdom.” (Lk 12:32)
St. Francis was acutely aware of this when he was dying. He was not afraid. He was still concerned in his last moments to promote the Gospel. What an example of courage that is to us. WE need to be fearless in the service of the Lord, and holding fast to the day we enter the Kingdom. In all things let us be first at promoting peace, and forgiving those who wrong us, even when they continue doing so.
There is much talk in the Church about the Married State and the Religious State, but no one speaks about the Single Life. I am here to defend this beautiful and sublime State! It is given by God just as much as the others, only there is no Sacrament like Holy Orders, Consecration of Vows, and Matrimony to seal it.
Some people are under the misconception that the Single State is just for those who have had problems; physically, emotionally and social. That is not so. There are a lot of holy people who because of circumstances, remain single. They can serve God and the Church more easily than in the Married State, because of time, responsibilities, etc. The Single person can be more easily single-hearted in their love for God. By their virginity and celibacy, they too, can achieve holiness like the Priesthood and Religious Life. A single man or woman may never have children biologically, but they can have many children spiritually. By their unselfishness in serving the Mystical Body Of Christ they can obtain countless graces for souls.
There is loneliness in the Single State, but so is there in Marriage and the Religious Life, even though they have a spouse or community of brothers or sisters to rely on. The loneliness in the single life is a special cross designed by God to draw every single person to His Love and Consolation. The cross of loneliness if accepted properly, can be united to Our Lord's suffering in the Garden for our sins. All the Apostles left Him alone, but He had the great consolation of the Father and the Holy Angels of the Agony.
My advice to the single people in the Church is: find out what your God given talents are, and use them for the Glory of God and to do His Holy Will. Do not seek to be delivered from the single state unless God shows you differently. Happiness can be found abundantly in the Single State, because the world can be our community and parish. By being single and being Franciscan, in an Order, or a Brother and Sister of Penance, one can accomplish much with God's help. Sanctify your fellow brothers and sisters by living closely the Rule, and offering your prayer, time and talents for others. Let us all who are single, remember Jesus words to Martha regarding Mary: "Leave her alone, for Mary has chosen the better part."
Donna Kay Rock BSP
Welcome to our new Postulants: Chuck and Jennifer Holcomb and family and friends in Alabama.
On the baptism of their son Thomas on Palm Sunday this year.
L to R Back: Jennifer (holding Joseph), Chuck, Fr. McKenna (holding Thomas), Friends Karen and Mary Jo Thomas (Godparents)
L to R Front: Rachel, Daniel, and Robert
As we grow and add members nationally the possibility of adding more chapters of the Association is enhanced. Chapters are a good thing. If you would like more information on membership in your area please feel free to request it from the Communication Center at the address on the last page of this newsletter. Where there are others in your area we will verify with them their interest in having their address information shared and if it is OK with them we will pass it on to you. You can take it from there.
Bruce and Shelley
MINISTER’S MESSAGE: ABOUT FALSE IDOLS
Dear Members and Friends,
At Mass, on vacation in Maryland, on Wednesday, June 9th, I heard how Ezekial challenged the prophets of Baal to a duel. He said that he would call on the God of Israel, our God, and they should call on Baal, their god, to light an offering. Whichever God lit the offering was the true God. You know how the story goes. The prophets of Baal call on him to light the offering and, of course, he doesn’t. Then Ezekial takes his turn and calls on the God of Israel, and in one call God strikes the altar with fire and burns it up completely. The Israelites, who have been watching this spectacle, are convinced their God is really God. It is a bad day for the prophets of Baal. None of them survive.
We find also in the book of John that we are to avoid idols. “Children, be on your guard against idols.” (1JN. 5:21) This admonition of his often struck me as strange, but as a meditation in this modern age it is awesome. Our age is an age of false idols. As brothers and sisters of penance we must move beyond them as did St. Francis. The Rule is designed to help us to do that. We strike at the roots of the false gods of this age. Power, prestige, possessions.
Father Valerius, our first Visitor, and the one who brought the BSP into existence as if a new St. Francis had arisen in our age, said once that the great scourge of this age is the exultation of self. Self adoration by self adornment. So much in the media is aimed at telling us how to take care of ourselves. How to decorate ourselves and our homes. How important owning the ‘new’ things is to self identification. It is a trap.
The book of Revelation talks about the gods of the end times. “The rest of the human race, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands, to give up the worship of demons and idols made from gold, silver, bronze, stone, and wood, which cannot see or hear or walk.” (RV 9:20) Isn’t this our age? How many times do we see these false idols set before our age. In the commercials on cars, home furnishings, personal care items, food, money, and obeying our own will.
If we make ourselves first we cannot put the Lord there. However, if we put the Lord in the first place we realize immediately our nature as His creatures. He alone is supreme over all. In His greatness our littleness and dependence is obvious to us. Any way we exalt ourselves makes us like the prophets of Baal, calling on the god of self to light the fires of our life. If we live the Rule, in its simplicity, it will destroy the idols around us. In ourselves first, and then it will give us the power to ignore the false gods of this age. So what St. John wrote speaks to us. What St. Francis lived counsels us. What we believe and hear in the Gospel truly guides us. We can become simple, humble, little, and servants to all, in Christ.
Let us avoid false idols. Let us live for Christ. Let us be the least of all, and help everyone to know the power of a life of penance in an age of darkness. Peace, and may God bless us all.
Bruce Fahey BSP
Minister and brother
Father Corey Belden
Father Corey is our new Visitor, and is fully involved in parish work as the Parochial Vicar for St. Mary’s and St. Michael’s Parishes in Stillwater, Minnesota. He was born, raised, and ordained in the Twin Cities and is very excited to help us in the Association. We happily welcome Fr. Corey Belden! Questions may be directed to Father Corey through the Communication Center of the BSP.
Prior Lake Retreat Center
16385 St Francis Ln,
Prior Lake, MN, 55372
Take a day off and come...
- RETREAT 2004 -
The 2004 retreat for the Brothers and Sisters of St. Francis will be held at the Franciscan Retreat Center at Prior Lake, Minnesota from Friday evening, July 30th to Sunday noon, August 1st.
The expected cost is $120 for everything.
We are very happy to report that the Visitor of the BSP, Father Corey Belden, and Father Valerius Messerich O.F.M., our first Visitor, both hope to be at the retreat, and that our primary retreat speaker will be Fr. Robert Altier, a very renowned speaker in the Twin Cities area. Fr. Altier’s talks and much more are recorded on his Web site at: http://www.desertvoice.org/ .
We will also be blessed to have Archbishop Harry J. Flynn celebrate Mass on Saturday night, and we are sure the Archbishop will have a powerful message of support for all present.
If you wish to book your attendance at the retreat please send a $25 deposit to the Brothers and Sisters of Penance of St. Francis; 20939 Quadrant Ave. N., Scandia, Minnesota 55073.
Travel arrangements can be coordinated with the BSP Communication Center at the same address if you are planning on coming in by rail or air. The retreat schedule will be published as we get closer to the date. If you have any questions please call Bruce or Shelley at the BSP Communication Center at 651-433-2753.
THE ADMONITIONS OF ST. FRANCIS: VI. The imitation of Christ
Look at the Good Shepherd, my brothers. To save his sheep he endured the agony of the cross. They followed him in trials and persecutions, in ignominy, hunger, and thirst, in humiliations and temptations, and so on. And for this God rewarded them with eternal life. We ought to be ashamed of ourselves; the saints endured all that, but we who are servants of God try to win honor and glory by recounting and making known what they have done.
NO GREATER LOVE: by PAUL BEERY
"Be Thou King of those who are deceived by erroneous opinions, or whom discord keeps aloof, and call them back to the harbor of truth and unity of faith, so that soon there may be but one flock and one shepherd. Grant, O Lord, to Thy Church, assurance of freedom and immunity from harm; give peace and order to all nations, and make the earth resound from pole to pole with one cry: PRAISE TO THE DIVINE HEART THAT WROUGHT OUR SALVATION; TO IT BE GLORY AND HONOR FOREVER. AMEN.”
How much do I love you; let me count the ways. Love Jesus, love His Church.
A good shepherd reminds us how much our holy father St. Francis loved the Church, and what flowed from that love. In "Francis as the model of authentic Church reform," Archbishop Chaput states the following: "A very clear part of his spirituality was his love for the Church, his obedience to her pastors, his unwillingness to be critical of the Church. Instead of tearing her down because of the sins of her leaders, Francis chose to love the Church and serve her – and because of that love and by his simple living of the Gospel without compromise, he became the means God used for the conversion and renewal of a whole age of faith."
For me, that’s a pretty good definition of the mission of the Brothers and Sisters of Penance of St. Francis. Jesus reminds us that we need to be born again of water and the Spirit in order to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Birth normally requires a mother. Mary the Mother of the Church, special instrument of the Holy Spirit, leads her children to spiritual re-birth. Through her we join a Community in love with Jesus called Holy Mother Church. We are above all things faithful to Holy Mother Church, and obedient to her pastors especially where obedience is demanded - in matters of faith and morals. Far from being critical of the Church, we are her most ardent defenders. As her most ardent defenders, we abhor the cult of dissent that is tearing the Church apart from within, destroying the unity Jesus prayed for: “That they all may be One as You Father are in Me, and I am in You, that they may be One in Us.” The children of this Mother are undergoing a great trial. We can aid in this cleansing process by giving witness of how a true disciple of Jesus lives the Gospel without compromise: THROUGH OBEDIENCE. The fruit of one's service is always measured by this standard.
I heard Bishop Sheen say many times: "Evil can only be overcome with good."
The sins of infidelity of some in the Church can only be overcome with the fidelity, the goodness and holiness of other members, one part of Christ's Mystical Body healing the other. This desire is so well expressed in the Act of Reparation to the Sacred Heart. "The more Thy holy laws are transgressed and ignored, the more we shall delight to observe them. The more the imitation of Thy virtues is neglected and forgotten, the more we shall endeavor to practice them. The more sin and impurity destroy the image of God in man, the more we shall try by purity of life to be a living temple of the Holy Spirit. The more Thy Holy Church is despised, the more we shall endeavor to be her faithful children, O Sweet Heart of Jesus."
We choose to love the Church and serve her by a "simple living of the Gospel without compromise." We take God at His Word. We understand a love letter from Love Itself. We don't consult the unfaithful and the confused on how to water down the Hard Sayings of Jesus. We accept His Word, which even the most simple can understand, without compromise. If we need help in reaching the fullness of this divine revelation, we read the manual, the Rule of St. Francis. No one has done it better. No one has been a more perfect image of the Savior. He told anyone who wished to follow Jesus in this Way how he did it and how they could do it. That's why Francis "became the means God used for the conversion and renewal of a whole age of faith." That renewal is still going on, and we are privileged to be part of it by following the manual that teaches us fidelity to Jesus through obedience to Holy Mother Church.
"I am a little pencil in the hand of a writing God who is sending a love letter to the world." Mother Teresa made this profound statement, one that touched me deeply, for I recognize myself in it. As one who ponders the meaning of his existence, who has traveled many roads but is always drawn to writing about the love of God, what better way to define a personal mission in life? I too would like to think of myself as that little pencil. The pencil knows everything the author has written, and never forgets a word. The pencil knows it is to be used as a mere instrument in the hands of a Majestic Author, and never forgets it's an unworthy servant. The pencil knows that it can only repeat the Word of a writing God, and will fail if it doesn't. The pencil writes about love, knowing it can never understand the mind of the Beloved, but knows something of His Heart. The pencil is privileged to by held so closely by a writing God, but is crushed when it sees the world rejecting the love letter written so carefully by its Creator.
Is it any wonder then, that the little pencil keeps returning to the concept of fidelity to the Word of God? It is a noble task given the faithful, to alleviate the suffering Christ endures on earth through the ingratitude and apathy of so many who choose a lesser goal. Seek a Love that is Eternal. Follow Him on the Way. Offer Him the veil of compassion like Veronica, carry His cross like Simon, weep for our sins like the women of Jerusalem, defend Him like the good thief, love Him like our Mother Mary at the foot of the cross of our salvation. Be like the pencil that only writes the Word of God, and loves the Mother who preserves and proclaims it, while adopting the ways of those who are most faithful like our holy father St. Francis.
"Eternal life consists of this, that you know the Father, and Him whom the Father has sent." The One whom the Father has sent has made Himself known in His love letter. It remains for us to consecrate our lives to the Author of that love letter, and become as faithful as a little pencil in the hand of a writing God.
The original Consecration to the Sacred Heart as established by Pope Pius XI in 1925:
“Most Sweet Jesus, Redeemer of the human race, look down upon us humbly prostrate before Thee. We are Thine and Thine we wish to be; but to be more surely united with Thee, behold each one of us freely consecrates himself today to Thy Most Sacred Heart.
Many indeed have never known Thee; many too, despising Thy precepts have rejected Thee. Have mercy on them all, most merciful Jesus, and draw them to Thy Sacred Heart. Be Thou King, O Lord, not only of the faithful who have never forsaken Thee, but also of the prodigal children who have abandoned Thee. Grant that they may quickly return to their Father's house lest they die of wretchedness and hunger.
Margaret of Cortona, Patroness of single mothers
"Margaret, glorify Me, and I will glorify you. Love Me, and I will love you. Devote yourself to My interests, and I will do the same for yours."
Jesus to Margaret
"This morning my soul is greater than the world since it possesses You, You whom heaven and earth do not contain."
Margaret to Jesus
St. Margaret was born in 1247. She was a farmer’s daughter. As a young girl Margaret's mother died and her father remarried. However, Margaret and her step-mother did not get along. Margaret, who was a beautiful girl, ran away with a wealthy young man named Arsenio and lived with him for nine years. She bore him a child. She hoped he would marry her, but he never did.
One day Arsenio went out to inspect his properties. He never returned; but his dog did. The dog led Margaret to a spot in the woods, where Arsenio had been murdered, and his body thrown into a hole and covered with leaves.
Margaret took that as her sign to convert to God. Margaret and her son went back to her father to beg his forgiveness but her step-mother didn't want her back home. She sought a place to live but did not succeed.
Suddenly she found herself a homeless single mother. Margaret sat crying under a tree near her father's house and heard a voice call to her, bidding her to go into the town of Cortona and join the Franciscans.
She followed this call and humbly asked entry into the Third Order of the Franciscans, that she might do penance for the rest of her life. She was accepted on a trial basis to see if her conversion would last. She attended Mass each day, spent long hours in prayer, worked as a maid and cared for the poor. She supported her and her son by living on alms and tending the poor and sick. Today there is a chapel called the "Chapel of Repentance" at the location of the tree where Margaret first received God's call.
The Chapel of Repentance in Laviano, Italy
Finally, after three years, her spiritual director agreed she was ready. In 1277, at the age of 30, Margaret entered the Third Order of St. Francis. Under the guidance of the friars, especially Fra Giunta Bevegnati, Margaret began a period of life as a penitent that was to last twenty-nine years.
When she entered the Third Order she sent her son to the Franciscan school in Arezzo and moved to a cottage near the church. There she began to have visions of the Lord. When she was at prayer the Lord seemed to speak plainly to her. For some time He called her, "my poor little one," but after she had asked Him for a more intimate title through much prayer and penance, He began to call her, "My daughter." This filled Margaret with great joy, and an ever greater zeal for prayer and penance.
Margaret was still young and beautiful and found that men were still very attracted to her. She had trouble resisting the temptation to find an easier life with a man by using her beauty, rather then continue her disciplined religious life of spiritual devotion and poverty. Margaret still had much to learn about control of her impulses, but she managed to stick to her original call and vows. She even threatened to mutilate her face to cease the temptations but was warned not to by her spiritual directors. She was a very passionate woman!
Margaret eventually became very well respected by the townspeople and was known for her deep prayer life. She prayed many hours and was known to go into mystical ecstasies.
Eventually Jesus gave her a mission. As a penitent, she was to call others to repentance. Margaret set about this apostolate with zeal, and had great success in making peace between antagonists, reconciling sinners, and bringing the lax back to the sacraments. She continued her ministry of service to the sick poor and founded a hospital and worked there as a nurse, preferring to serve those with the most repulsive diseases. She gathered together those who wanted to live like her and formed them into members of the Franciscan Third Order. She founded two groups: "The Little Poor Sisters," to serve at the hospital, and the confraternity of Our Lady of Mercy, to serve the City's poor.
After raising her to the title of "my daughter," the Lord gave Margaret many other titles, including, "mother of sinners," "lily of innocence," "rose of charity," His "sister," and "pearl of his heart." However, her most treasured title was "spouse." She received this one day in August, after holy communion. She was given a white robe, a wedding ring and a crown from the Lord's angels. Then Jesus declared, "You are my spouse." This "mystical marriage," is the highest spiritual state possible, in which the soul is constantly aware God's presence and love.
Margaret was distressed by the respect she had gained from the town however, because she didn't feel she deserved it. One day she marched into church and declared publically her sins. At that point people began to distrust her and gossiped about her, spreading lies about her. At one point even the Franciscans weren't sure whether to keep her! But Margaret's true heart and purity won out. She persisted in her life of service, prayer, and severe penance.
The Lord revealed to Margaret a month in advance when she would die. It is reported that many miracles occurred at her death. Her body is incorrupt to this day, visible in a silver shrine beneath the main altar of the Basilica of Cortona. There is also the Crucifix that asked her: "What do you want, Poverella? (Poor One)", And Margaret answered: "Only You, My Lord!"
St. Margaret of Cortona please pray for us!
Submitted by Anna Ferroni—Turin, Italy
PELIANITO BLOG: Thursday, June 24, 2004
The deeds of darkness love to conceal themselves in the disguise of purity...
Then they brought Jesus from Caiaphas to the Praetorium. It was morning. And they themselves did not enter the Praetorium, in order not to be defiled so that they could eat the Passover. (John 18:28)
"Beloved child, the deeds of darkness love to conceal themselves in the disguise of purity. They did not see that in murdering the Innocent One, their defilement was many times worse than they feared by entering the Praetorium. Child take special care not to be like them. Be aware of your sinfulness. It is your humility which will save you from ruin. For if you place your trust in yourself you are sure to be betrayed by your own passions and pride. But if in your abject poverty you place all your trust in me you will have life and have it abundantly, and I will raise you up on the last day."
Lord I am not worthy, but only say the word and I shall be healed. Jesus I am yours.
- JOB OPENINGS IN THE BSP -
JOURNALISTS (UNLIMITED OPPORTUNITY)
FOR THE LOVE OF GOD[*]:
Article 6 of the Rule
6. All are to abstain from meat save on Sundays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays, except on account of illness or weakness, for three days at blood-letting, in traveling, or on account of a specially high feast intervening, namely, the Nativity for three days, New Year's, Epiphany, the Pasch of the Resurrection for three days, Assumption of the glorious Virgin Mary, the solemnity of All Saints and of St. Martin. On the other days, when there is no fasting, they may eat cheese and eggs. But when they are with religious in their convent homes, they have leave to eat what is served to them. And except for the feeble, the ailing, and those traveling, let them be content with dinner and supper. Let the healthy be temperate in eating and drinking.
For the Love of God - This chapter should be lived quite literally. With a little substitution and understanding its tenets, while certainly demanding, are completely manageable. Take for instance that abstinence was to be avoided at blood letting which we now know was a bad medical practice. In our day we know that giving blood is a good medical practice. Hence, if we wish we can refrain from abstinence when we give blood instead, which would certainly be a good and even, advisable practice. The effect is the same relative to the Rule, and a perfectly acceptable way to live it.
It is certainly OK to eat cheese or eggs or fish for our meals when we are not otherwise fasting. In our day the Church has said that this is acceptable. We should try to eat just two full meals a day on every day, except perhaps Sunday, on which we can “rest” even from this penance. All of this says that we should try to be temperate in eating, which means not to eat as much at our meals. And notice that drinking is included in this program of abstinence under the title of being “temperate”. So we can drink more water, or nothing at all, at meals to respond to this article, if we wish. The decision is ours.
Anyone following this Rule should feel free to enjoy the holy "loopholes" in these recommendations from St. Francis. For instance, "...when they are with religious in their convent homes, they have leave to eat what is served to them...”. These “loopholes” in the Rule are quite deliberate and thoughtful, and allow us to fit abstinence into our lifestyles invisibly when we are among others not similarly inclined, which can occur fairly regularly. In the same vein, we can eat what is served when we are out with others without telling them we are practicing abstinence. You will find that you can invariably abstain from something if you wish, even if it is your own will, like choosing what you don't want when you must choose something, or accepting what others offer when you really would prefer nothing at all. Both are forms of abstinence.
For the Love of God - "Francis paid great attention to external mortification, so that his whole life might be ruled by the cross of Christ which was imprinted on his heart..." There is absolutely nothing that we can add to the power and simplicity of this statement except to say, “Yes, I too want to pay attention to the external mortification of my senses so that my whole life might by ruled by the cross of Christ!” One mortification will lead to another until we die to the world and come alive in righteousness for and in Jesus Christ!
For the Love of God - Remember that "Since on the seventh day God was finished with the work he had been doing, he rested on the seventh day from all the work he had undertaken. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work he had done in creation." (Gen. 2: 2-3) So too, on the Sabbath, our “seventh day", let us rest from the work of mortification of our senses in that we neither fast nor abstain on that day. As the Church teaches: “The Lord’s day is therefore the first and greatest festival, one to be set before the loving devotion of the faithful and impressed upon it, so that it may be also a day of joy and of freedom from work. Other celebrations must not take precedence over it...”, even the celebrations of personal discipline.
[*] FOR THE LOVE OF GOD was written as a meditation on the Rule of 1221 at the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, by Bruce and Shelley Fahey before the BSP was approved as an Association or Statutes existed. Please do not confuse this meditation on the Rule of 1221 with the Rule and Statutes of the Association, which we will begin to review with this issue.. If you need a written copy of the current Rule and Statues please let the BSP Communication Center know and one will be provided. They are posted on the Web site.
THE RULE AND STATUTES
THE BROTHERS AND SISTERS OF PENANCE OF ST. FRANCIS
The Rule of the Association of the Brothers and Sisters of Penance of St. Francis is the First Rule of the Third Order of St. Francis of 1221, Memoriale Propositi. The title Brothers and Sisters of Penance of St. Francis is abbreviated using the acronym BSP in these articles and statutes. The word chapter, as used herein, refers to local groups consisting of two or more members. Ministers in this private Catholic Association are those whose function is to serve the local chapter, or Association, in a leadership capacity. The Rule of 1221 is in BOLD font and the Modern Statutes in regular font. Members of the Association, while in formation or once they are pledged, live according to the statutes.
The Statutes have been approved by the Church, through Father Valerius Messerich O.F.M., the first Visitor of the Association, as well as by Father Corey Belden, our current Visitor, and by the Vicar of Religious of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. They are the way we are to live the Rule, subject to individual guidance and interpretation any of us might receive from our own spiritual directors or confessors.
Always remember that the Rule, and its Statutes, are the means to an end, not an end in themselves. Do all for the love of God and the good of your soul. Find refreshment in living the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Welcome to the lifestyle of the Brothers and Sisters of Penance of St. Francis!
Here begins the Rule of the Continent Brothers and Sisters. In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. The memorial of what is proposed for the Brothers and Sisters of Penance of St. Francis, living in their own homes, begun in the year of our Lord 1221, is as follows.
Here begins the Rule and Statutes of the Continent (those who give up things) Brothers and Sisters of Penance of St. Francis (BSP). In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
These statutes can be relaxed on Sundays and Solemnities if the penitent so chooses. We live these in our daily lives and homes, in our families, communities, and places of work, wherever we live in the world, without drawing attention to ourselves. We live them for the love of God.
COMMENTARY: by Bruce Fahey BSP
The rule is that given to us by St. Francis. That never changes, and it is a holy way of life. The people of his day came to ask him for a way of life that would lead to salvation and this is the product of that request. It is true that he had his friend, Cardinal Hugolino dei Segni, later Pope Innocent III, write the Rule. It is also true that he approved of it. Hence it became the First Rule of the Third Order of St. Francis, and was honored in that regard until late in the 19th century. For the past 100 years it has not been promoted as written, and that, Shelley and I believe, is why the Lord has called into existence an Association in the Church that lives it anew. That is who we are; The Brothers and Sisters of Penance, BSP, now subtitled ‘of St. Francis’ out of respect for his call, and we are certain, his blessing.
The Statutes are a modern definition of how we live the ancient Rule. As such, they can be changed by your spiritual director to reflect what is best for you. This freedom is most useful as it allows a specific adaptation of the Rule to your life where it is needed, and it is needed where illness or other needs, perhaps those of old age, dictate you cannot live the Rule as written. This is a good thing, and we encourage all members to remember you can always do more than the Rule requires, but formation has the purpose of gradual transformation. Always seek to do the will of another rather than your own.
Madonna with St. Elizabeth, St. John the Baptist, Jesus, and St. Joseph.
By Raffaello, painted in 1507
This painting is called Madonna Canigiani.
Alte Pinakothek, Munih (Germany)
BROTHERS AND SISTERS OF PENANCE OF ST. FRANCIS
is a non-profit Private Association of the Faithful, which is dedicated to renewing the ancient way of penance as contained in the First Rule of the Third Order of St. Francis of 1221 for lay people in our modern world. We have the approval of the Catholic Church to do this through several of its bishops. If you are bound by another Rule of life in another profession of the way of St. Francis that does not permit you to enter other religious families you are nonetheless invited to become an Honorary member of our Association and add the elements of this beautiful way of life that Saint Francis of Assisi gave us to the lifestyle of your profession.
All members, and Franciscans, are welcome to submit articles for consideration for inclusion in this newsletter if they are directed towards the spiritual formation of members or are the outgrowth of the lifestyle of the Association or a committed Franciscan life. Just send them to the BSP of St. Francis at the address on this newsletter. Feel free to share this newsletter with your friends or neighbors. It is intended to be the primary monthly communication of the Association. And if you can find it in your heart and in your budget remember that donations to the BSP are used strictly to promote the lifestyle and are tax deductible. We remain, always, sincerely yours in the love of Jesus Christ!
Bruce and Shelley Fahey BSP
Welcome to the Brothers and Sisters of Penance!
“The more you own the less you have to share.” —– Blessed Mother Theresa of Calcutta