Discovering Perfect Joy! By Anna Ferroni BSP - Italy
I am thinking of a friend of mine who is enjoying a vacation this week. He is a man who always has God in mind in the midst of his various actions. I know the story of his life and I could look at him when he was passing through trials and pains. He always had a beautiful smile. Whatever he may have been suffering inside, he radiated joy. I think, he has the fullness of Christian maturity.
Considering my friend's attitudes, I have come to realize that the normal, persevering attitude of a baptized person should be joy. I have realized: to be happy is an act of virtue. Joy is also an act of adoration, because it bears witness to the fact that God is everything to us.
I believe that the most complete, the most profound, and the most filial homage that we can pay to God in the course of our life is quite simply to be happy in His presence, in a joyfulness that nothing can alter, that nothing can disconcert.
Sadness that produces discouragement and melancholy is a result of self-love, combined with the physical state we are in at the time. Nothing else. So I say to myself every day: shake it off, and make an effort to be cheerful. Cheerfulness takes courage; but it is for God that we must overcome ourselves in this way.
Whenever anything troubles us, wounds us, turns us away from God, we should say, 'This is God's will, and it shall pass.' I have been making a little attempt at this spirituality of calm and perfect serenity, I soon discovered how difficult it is.
I think it is very important that we Christians today live our faith with joy. Our contemporary world will not accept a witness of words alone. True Christian joy is attractive. All the Saints had it.
Joy is something that cannot be given by the consumer society. It cannot be bought. We should ask the Holy Spirit to give us joy. And we should nurture it in ourselves. Not, certainly, through forced or artificial joviality, but through prayer, self-denial and willing service of others. And joy being highly infectious, we can catch it by studying the lives of the Saints.
We should always remember the well-known story of "Perfect Joy" from the Fioretti, of the journey of St. Francis of Assisi to St. Mary of the Angels. In that story, St. Francis related the story of a brother who on a stormy cold day knocked on the door of a brother’s house and asked for entrance and it was denied in harsh words. Persistent, the brother knocked and asked entrance again, in fact, several times, until finally he was beaten away! This, the Saint said, was ‘perfect joy’. Total rejection! A persistent, terrible, cross! Like so many crosses our lives, and particularly those in our lives, provide.
The saints we celebrate on the first day of November are the ordinary, everyday saints. The things that make saints are most often the small, ordinary things that make up our daily lives: the little acts of love and cheerfulness for those close to us and even for strangers, the services we perform smiling, without any fanfare, referring every moment of happiness, every shadow of uncertainty to God, accepting everything He sends with conscious gratitude, and obeying the least whisper of His call.
THE ADMONITIONS OF ST. FRANCIS: VIII. Beware the sin of envy
St. Paul tells us, “No one can say Jesus is Lord, except in the Holy Spirit” (1 Cor. 12:3) and, “There is none who does good, no, not even one” (Rom. 3:12). and so when a man envies his brother the good God says or does through him, it is like committing a sin of blasphemy, because he is envying God, who is the only source of every good.
NO GREATER LOVE: by PAUL BEERY
“If you live according to My teaching, you are truly My disciples; then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
John. 8, 31
No areas in life are “off limits” for a disciple. The more controversial the subject, the more we should be in the forefront providing moral clarity for a world absorbed by feel-good relativism. We who believe in absolute principles of right and wrong given us by our Creator make principled choices for the Right to Life. We don’t change those principles out of loyalty to any person or political party. We tell the Emperor he has no clothes. Our loyalty is to the Truth, to Jesus, who has set us free to live for God alone.
The age-old war between good and evil is described today as the Gospel of Life vs. the Culture of Death. Our actions benefit one side or the other. Some try to distort the meaning of PRO- LIFE, as though one can be Pro-Life and promote the Culture of Death at one and the same time. The Church through Cardinal Ratzinger answers this obvious
CONTRADICTION, using two issues some have erroneously tried to weave into the “Seamless Garment of LIFE:”
“Not all moral issues have the same weight as abortion and euthanasia. For example, if a Catholic were at odds with the Holy Father on the application of capital punishment or on the decision to wage war, he would not be considered unworthy to receive Holy Communion. While the Church exhorts civil authorities to seek peace, not war, and to exercise discretion and mercy in imposing punishment on criminals, it may still be permissible to take up arms to repel an aggressor or to have recourse to capital punishment. There may be a legitimate diversity of opinion even among Catholics about waging war and applying the death penalty, but NOT with regard to abortion and euthanasia.” Fr. Richard Neuhaus quoting Cardinal Ratzinger in Neuhaus’s excellent article “Bishops at a Turning Point,” FIRST THINGS, Oct. 2004, pg. 80.
Following is a list of Pro-Life NON-NEGOTIABLE issues that MUST be opposed by ALL Catholics if they are to REMAIN IN UNION WITH JESUS AND HIS CHURCH:
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that – in principle - one of our political parties promotes ALL OF THE ABOVE, while the other OPPOSES them. Nor does it take a degree in logic to surmise that one party is therefore Pro-Life, while the Pro-Abortion party undeniably promotes the Culture of Death, along with the debasement of virtue that accompanies such a “choice.” A few “choice” results from supporting the party of abortion:
Abortion (the acceptance of partial-birth infanticide alone should automatically exclude from communion anyone who promotes such a barbaric and inhuman act)
Embryonic stem-cell research
Same-sex “marriage.” “All Catholics are OBLIGED TO OPPOSE the legal
recognition of homosexual unions, (especially) Catholic politicians.”
(Source: “Considerations Regarding Proposals to Give Legal Recognition to
Unions Between Homosexual Persons,” Congregation for the Doctrine of the
Faith. This could be an issue with even more catastrophic consequences
The US bishops in June made a very clear statement: “It is the teaching of the Catholic Church from the very beginning, founded on her understanding of her Lord’s own witness to the sacredness of human life, that the killing of an unborn child is ALWAYS INTRINSICALLY EVIL and CAN NEVER BE JUSTIFIED. If those who perform an abortion and those who cooperate willingly in the action are fully aware of the objective evil of what they do, they are guilty of grave sin and thereby SEPARATE THEMSELVES FROM GOD’S GRACE.”
- The corruption of the morals of young and old; a turning from God to self.
- The corruption of the Faith, and the" faithful” who call good evil, and evil good.
- An attack on the sanctity of marriage and the family; God’s plan for mankind.
- Vulgar civil discourse and the distortion of reality for political purposes.
- The venom of pure hatred directed at genuine Christians including the president, establishing the legitimacy and public expression of anti-Christian bigotry and eventual persecution.
- The Secularization of America by activist liberal judges who overturn the rule of law and the will of the people while stripping away every vestige of our Christian heritage from the public square, including the RIGHT TO LIFE!
That statement begs the question: then what about those who willingly cooperate in these intrinsically evil acts by voting for Pro-Abort politicians? That, my friends, is the question of the day. Thank God that the gravity of this sin against God’s creative action in bringing forth new life has finally hit home, and challenges to be authentically Catholic are being issued across the country. The bishops of Atlanta, Ga. and South Carolina forbid Communion to Pro-Abort Catholic politicians until “reconciliation with the Church has occurred, and public disavowal of former support for procured abortion.” And the bishops say why they have done this: “We undertake this action to safeguard the sacred dignity of the most Holy Sacrament of the altar, to reassure the faithful, and to save sinners.” First Things, Nov. 2004, pg. 65. Thank you, we ARE reassured!
Many other bishops are informing alleged Catholic politicians that they will be denied Communion. Those who divide and fracture the Body of Christ are committing a great sacrilege against their Lord. Anyone who loves Jesus should be incredibly offended by such infidelity. Finally, thirty years after Roe vs. Wade, the bishops are providing clear teaching about non-negotiable issues upon which many have, in the meantime, formed erroneous opinions. The hour has come, and Good shepherds are seeking to protect their faithful from the wolves who have ravaged them for so long.
Alleged Catholics who divide the People of God are no longer welcome to publicly promote infidelity to Jesus and His Church. If they cannot understand the mind of Christ on Non-Negotiable LIFE issues, then how in the world can they be trusted on ANY OTHER ISSUE? It’s time for the faithful to be courageous, telling alleged Catholic politicians to stop supporting the Culture of Death, starting in the voting booth. But more
If we do not become more active in Pro-Life causes, we have no excuse if there is no longer a Pro-Life option available in the future. In addition to fervent and ceaseless prayer, I believe we must be active in keeping at least one party truly Pro-Life, for all the forces of evil are working against it. It’s much easier to keep a living organism healthy than raise one from the dead. Only Jesus raises the dead; those who actively oppose His Gospel of Life and attack His faithful followers are not particularly good candidates for resuscitation. For the LOVE OF GOD, CHOOSE LIFE!
(Paul and his wife, Donna, are both founding members of Morning Star Chapter of the BSP in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. Paul is also a formation advocate.)
PELIANITO BLOG: Thursday, July 17, 2004
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." (Luke 9:23)
"Beloved follow me. Ask for the grace to die to self. There is much in you yet that clings to the world. Die to self and become a spiritual being. Put to rest your own desires and live to fulfill the desires of God. In this way you will become a new creation, holy and pure, a beloved creature fit for the kingdom of heaven."
FRANCISCAN SAINTS: Venerable
Ludovico Necchi was born November 19, 1876 in Milan. While he was still a child, his father died, and his mother moved to Sicily and married a second time. His stepfather had no faith. Ludovico grew up in an atmosphere of atheism, but became a strong believer instead, following the teachings of two maternal aunts. At that time, Italy was dominated by Masonry. Atheistic and anticlerical propaganda was carried on in schools and universities. But all this seemed to strengthen rather than weaken the faith of Ludovico Necchi. He was not afraid to voice his convictions and to defend them against any challenger.
Edward Gemelli was a fellow student in the secondary school and later at the University of Pavia together with Ludovico, but they were in opposing camps. In fact, Gemelli was the leader of the student's socialist organization. As students, Necchi and Gemelli often carried on debates about religion. Perhaps these discussions began God’s work in the soul of Gemelli. He was later to become the most famous of Necchi's converts.
At Pavia University Necchi found an anti-catholic atmosphere. Many of the Catholic students were carried away by the tide, few indeed were those who preserved their faith intact. Necchi found many opportunities to witness. By his attractive, joyful character he exercised a wholesome influence upon those with whom he came into personal contact. Everyone knew he was a militant and a convinced Catholic - but no one avoided him for that reason. Even his opponents could not help admiring him, for his conduct was in full harmony with the faith.
He also devoted himself to promoting the Christian Democratic Movement. It was due to Necchi's initiative that a Christian Democratic Center was established at Milan in 1899. The objects of the Center were expressed in these terms: "To exercise an influence on social problems, upon the solution of which depends the well-being of the community and in particular of the laboring classes; to exercise an influence on all questions of nation-wide importance, and to co-ordinate the studies and work of members toward the supreme interests of religion." As a result, books and magazines explaining the Church's stand were published. Meetings were held and workers learned how the Church looked upon the maxims of socialism. Christian trade unions were organized.
Early Sunday morning Necchi would leave Milan for the surrounding country districts. There he would speak to the agricultural workers, returning by one o'clock still fasting, to receive Holy Communion. Even on weekdays he would sometimes carry out a similar program. After the University of Pavia had awarded the degree of Doctor of Medicine to Necchi and his fellow-student Gemelli, both were appointed for their military service to the Military Hospital of St. Ambrose in Milan. On the same day on which the two young doctors were assigned to duty at the Military Hospital, several young Franciscans and some students of the Diocesan Seminary of Milan were likewise drafted for military service in the same institution. When Gemelli saw one of the friars kneel down to say his prayers, he challenged Necchi to do the same. Necchi knelt down and prayed.
We don't know the date when Vico Necchi joined the Franciscan Third Order. Like a good Tertiary, Necchi went to Mass each morning, denying himself an extra half hour of sleep. In the chapel of the Sisters who were on the hospital staff he was to be found each day at Holy Mass and receiving Holy Communion. When on maneuvers, he would slip out of his tent at four in the morning to be able to receive Holy Communion in the village church of Montebelluno, several miles away. "The heart of this Tertiary," wrote Msgr. Olgiati, Necchi's Spiritual Director, "burned with a flame similar to that which devoured the heart of St. Francis."
On Good Friday, 1903, Necchi finally accompanied Gemelli to see a priest at St. Ambrose Church and to make his peace with God. It was a day of indescribable happiness for both. They were kindred souls now, and henceforth cooperated in spreading the Kingdom of the Sacred Heart in the souls of their fellow-men. Gemelli's conversion was so complete that after his term in military service he became a Franciscan friar, named Fr. Augustine, though that step entailed a painful rupture with his family. Later he was to found the Catholic University of Milan, an undertaking in which he was greatly aided by his old friend Vico Necchi.
When Necchi was released from military service, he went to the university of Berlin and attended postgraduate courses (1903-1904) in neuropathology. While in Berlin he helped the University chaplain by his religious, charitable and social work among Italian immigrants. His studies completed, Doctor Necchi was offered a professorship at the University of Freiburg. He decided, however, to return to Italy. At this time he faced the important problem of his status in life. Should he follow the example of Gemelli who was preparing for the priesthood in the Franciscan Order; or should he remain in the world as a Catholic layman and devote himself to founding a Christian family? He made a retreat. At the end of the retreat he was convinced that it was God's will he should remain in the world. He said: I will be a consecrated person in the world.
Meeting a good lady by the name of Vittoria, he married her in Milan, on April 25, 1905. Ludovico's stepfather was present on this occasion and for the first time in his life made the Sign of the Cross; he had been converted by Ludovico. After the celebration, Ludovico and Victoria traveled to Lourdes to offer their marriage to Mary. Theirs was a truly holy marriage. Vittoria was a model wife and mother. Ludovico himself was a model husband and father. God gave them three children, and Ludovico devoted himself to the care of his children, for he considered that a sovereign obligation.
During the next nine years (up to 1914), Ludovico Necchi took an active interest in social problems, as he had during his student days. The freemasons were a powerful organization in Italy at this time, and Doctor Necchi helped to organize congresses to counteract their programs. In particular he fought for the maintenance of religious instruction in the schools.
Then came the first World War, and Necchi, now thirty-eight years old, served as a physician in the Italian army. Four years of suffering, hardships, and self-sacrifice for his fellow-sufferers in the front line high up in the Cadore Mountains. Those four long years of bloodshed and death and destruction at last came to an end. Vico with great joy returned to his family.
After the war the old friends, Father Gemelli and Doctor Necchi, were once more united in a project which became their most celebrated achievement: the founding of the University of the Sacred Heart in Milan, the first Catholic University in Italy. Until his death almost ten years later, Necchi's life and activities were completely identified with the University. Necchi served on the administrative Council and was also a professor of biology. His students revered him and paid him the tribute of genuine affection.
Doctor Necchi was always ready to attend the sick and those in distress who sought his aid. He maintained a consulting room in Milan. Since he had become deeply imbued with the spirit of Franciscan charity, each patient was received by him as a representative of the Lord. How many times he recalled the words of Christ: "as long as you did it for one of these, the least of my brethren, you did it for Me." (Matt. 25:40).
Doctor Necchi's patience and charity were especially manifest in his work for mental sufferers. For the task of dealing with patients afflicted with morbid anxieties and scruples Doctor Necchi was especially fit. During his youth he had passed through a period when he himself was tortured by scruples. He wrote: "In order to acquire that degree of self-denial necessary to cure these diseases, a spirit of self-sacrifice is required which no motive of mere financial gain or of scientific interest is powerful enough to create.....One must have undergone these torments oneself. And I have suffered them."
In October, 1929, the symptoms of Necchi's last illness began to show themselves. He suspected cancer, but gave no hint of this to his wife and family. He privately asked to have the tumor examined microscopically. The examination showed it was a sarcoma. The spiritual strength which Necchi had attained, he now revealed by the manner in which he faced the painful suffering and death that he knew would be his lot. The symptoms were clear to Necchi, but with a confident smile he went on with his work as before.
On January 9, Ludovico Necchi took care of his patients as usual. It was a day of fasting for him, and in the evening he asked that supper be brought to his room. When Vittoria came to him, solicitous and worried, Vico asked her to call for a priest. Then, holding in his hands a crucifix to which was attached the plenary indulgence for the hour of death, he elicited an act of contrition. He had lapsed into unconsciousness by the time the priest arrived to give him the final absolution and administer Extreme Unction. Death came shortly. The body of Doctor Necchi was taken to a hall of the University which had been temporarily transformed into a mortuary chapel. On the coffin was laid the brown habit and white cord of a Franciscan Tertiary. According to his will, his headstone was to be inscribed with the simple words: Vico Necchi, Franciscan Tertiary.
Father Gemelli wrote for his best friend: "May the rare beauty of the soul of Doctor Ludovico Necchi, Franciscan Tertiary, Member of the Foundation and Administrative Committees of the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart, faithful to our Lord Jesus Christ from the daybreak to the sunset of his life, inflexible in virtue, yet gentle in firmness, high-minded in affection, study , and work, shine forever in the glory of God our Father!"
Today the name of Doctor Ludovico Necchi is known throughout the Catholic world as that of one of the greatest Franciscan Tertiaries and leaders of Catholic Action in the twentieth century. He has been declared Venerable in 1971.
Submitted by Anna Ferroni—Turin, Italy
by Janet Klasson BSP—Formation Advocate
But far be it from me to glory except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation. Peace and mercy be upon all who walk by this rule, upon the Israel of God. (Galatians 6: 14-16)
I’m afraid I haven’t always gloried in sharing in the cross of the Lord. More times than I care to remember, I have complained about, bargained over or just plain resented the crosses I have been asked to bear. There have been times when it has been a daily struggle merely accept each cross, let alone glory in it.
But God has been infinitely patient with me. He has not left me orphaned. Instead of abandoning me to my failures, He is showing me, one cross at a time, that what I cling to in this world has no power to save me.
Verse 16 says: “Peace and mercy be upon all who walk by this rule”, that is, “to glory in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.” This is good news for us in the BSP, for the rule of the BSP is the way of the cross. In His goodness, the Lord does not make us wait for the blessings of peace and mercy. Because we are walking by the rule now, even while in formation, we may be confident of His blessing. Through the rule, and through the blessings of His peace and mercy, He is creating us anew.
This Scripture verse gives me the sure hope that as I walk by the rule of the BSP I will learn to embrace each daily cross with gratitude. In this way the world will be crucified to me and I to the world. In this way I will enter into the glory of the cross.
REGARDING THE DIVINE OFFICE:
Look at the Proper of Saints for the month and day and also look at the Proper of Seasons for the correct day and week of the Church year. Most Church bulletins each Sunday identify the week we are in on the Church calendar.
- Solemnities are always prayed as Solemnities, but without fasting or abstinence, and they are designated as such in either Proper in the Divine Office. The Octave of Easter and of Christmas are also Solemnities, eight days each, and are always treated as such under our Rule. The Triduum is always prayed as the Triduum. If a Solemnity falls within those times it will be transferred to another time. Feasts are always prayed as Feasts unless they coincide with a Solemnity--the Solemnity takes precedence over the Feast.
- Memorials are of two types--optional and obligatory. Obligatory ones are marked "Memorial" in the Proper of Saints, and those are always prayed unless they coincide with a Feast or Solemnity. The Feast or Solemnity takes precedence. Optional Memorials are not marked anything and you may pray them if you wish, or you may pray directly from the Psalter as normal for these.
MEMBER INFORMATION—A POINT IN HISTORY
On All Saints day, 1995, the first meeting to consider forming the Association of the Brothers and Sisters of Penance was held with Bishop Roger Schwietz in Duluth. Bishop Schwietz approved of the idea, but because we (Bruce and Shelley) live in the Archdiocese of St. Paul/Minneapolis, he set up a meeting with Archbishop Harry J. Flynn of our diocese. That meeting was held, at the Archbishop’s request, on the feast of the Annunciation, March 25,1996. On October 22, 1996 he authorized the BSP as an Association. Let us remember to pray for all of the brothers and sisters of penance, and our relatives, living and dead, as we observe All Saints day. It is itself a Solemnity, and recall that our Rule, in Article 8, calls us to fast on Wednesdays and Fridays from November 1 to Easter if it applies to us at our stage in formation.
THE RULE AND STATUTES
THE BROTHERS AND SISTERS OF PENANCE OF ST. FRANCIS
CHAPTER I: DAILY LIFE
RULE: ARTICLE 4
And both the brothers and the sisters shall have their fur garments of lamb’s wool only. They are permitted to have leather purses and belts sewed in simple fashion without silken thread, and no other kind. Also other vain adornments they shall lay aside at the bidding of the Visitor.
STATUTES: ARTICLE 4
a. Outer winter garments shall be compatible with the climate you live in, and provide adequate protection from the elements. They shall be of either a solid neutral or blue color, simple and modest, consistent with the content of Article 4.
b. Purses and belts should be of either a solid neutral or blue color. Suitcases and carry bags should be of these colors if possible also.
COMMENTARY: by Bruce Fahey BSP
Here again we see the call to simplicity, and modesty, at least of style. This article does not state that it is only winter related, but for most of us that is how it will apply. Few of us wear leather in the summer, except perhaps for our hobbies, like motorcycling, where leather is a safety matter. Apparently in the time of St. Francis, leather was worn more all the time. Lambs wool, now pretty rare or substituted for by other artificial fabrics, would hardly be our most common choice in most cases.
The fact is that we know we need to dress for the weather and the world we each live in. How we dress for it, and for any occasion for that matter, is very much a personal thing. Questions on dress should be worked out with our spiritual directors. We don’t wear habits, and that is not by accident. We don’t want to stand out in the world. We are in the world, but not of it.
And in the matter of personal effects, like purses and belts, among the many articles of apparel and use we each have, we should chose simply. As Fr. Altier said at our retreat, if we are eating, we can chose foods we don’t like so much. So also, when we are buying other things we use, we can apply this same simple rule. Don’t spend too much; don’t get too lavish or fancy. The simplicity of what we seek should always remind us of our commitment, which is also the primary purpose of our choice of colors.
I mean, who knows why we use or wear what we wear? Only we do. And in wearing it, and in using the things we have, we should be reminded of our choice to live in the world but not be of it. We need not try to look like we are poor or slovenly. We can simply blend in on the level of commonness of the average person of average means of those we are with. Always avoid singularity.
The other thing to remember is that we can phase into the changes in clothing required by the lifestyle, even after we pledge. Father Valerius often made it clear to us that there existed no requirement to refurbish your wardrobe or throw away perfectly functional things to accommodate the Rule. Future adjustments in garb and possessions should conform to the Rule, and in everything a person should consult their spiritual director to determine the best course of action in their own regard. Wisdom and prayer should overshadow everything, and spouses certainly need to be involved and approve of changes a person might be planning in their own regard in their own families and parishes.
Christ calling Peter and Andrew
by Duccio di Buoninsegna, Italian painter
painted around 1308
National Gallery of Art, Washington DC
BROTHERS AND SISTERS OF PENANCE OF ST. FRANCIS
a.k.a. the BSP, 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!
But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you may not appear to be fasting, except to your Father who is hidden. And your Father who sees what is hidden will repay you. ( Matt. 6:17,18)