Archive for the ‘Beatitudes’ Category

The people who are supremely free   Leave a comment

The world seeks freedom in the accumulation of possessions and power. It forgets that the only people who are truly free are those who have nothing left to lose. Despoiled of everything, detached from everything, they are “free from all men” (1 Corinthians 9:19) and all things. It can be truly said that their death is already behind them, because all their “treasure” is now in God and in him alone. The people who are supremely free desire nothing and are afraid of nothing. All the good that matters to them is already guaranteed them by God. They have nothing to lose and nothing to defend. These are the “poor in spirit” of the Beatitudes, detached, humble, merciful, meek, peacemakers.

~ Fr. Jacques Philippe, Interior Freedom

Posted February 26, 2015 by ouidaofs in Beatitudes

Lady Poverty   Leave a comment

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”  Matthew 5:3.

“The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in a field, which a person finds and hides again, and out of joy goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.  Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant searching for fine pearls.  When he finds a pearl of great price, he goes and sells all that he has and buys it.”  Matthew 13:44-46.

“Now someone approached him and said, ‘Teacher, what good must I do to gain eternal life?’  He answered him, ‘Why do you ask me about the good?  There is only One who is good.  If you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.’  He asked him, ‘Which ones?’  And Jesus replied,  ‘You shall not kill; you shall not commit adultery; you shall not steal; you shall not bear false witness; honor your father and your mother’; and ‘you shall love your neighbor as yourself.’  The young man said to him, ‘All of these I have observed.  What do I still lack?’  Jesus said to him, ‘If you wish to be perfect, go and sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven.  Then come, follow me.’  When the young man heard this statement, he went away sad, for he had many possessions.”  Matthew 19:16-22.

For Francis, Lady Poverty was symbolic of the poor Christ.  She was the symbol of the paradoxes of the Gospel, such as richness in poverty, life in death, strength in weakness, peace in temptation, fullness in emptiness and love in detachment and deprivation.  Lady Poverty made everything hard soft, and everything difficult easy.

For Francis, Lady Poverty also was a means to the indwelling of God and a way of life that makes present the kingdom of God here and now.  (“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of God.”)  God takes up his dwelling among us only when we are poor in spirit, emptied and detached from all that prevents Him from filling us with himself. Lady Poverty involves simple living, an attitude of love, thankfulness and giving and using our gifts as they were intended.  It brings freedom and true joy and, above all, requires humility.  It involves cleaning out the clutter of our hearts and surroundings to make room for God and surrendering to His holy will.

The way to Lady Poverty takes us through the Garden of Eden where we must slay the dragons of pride, pleasure and possessions, those same dragons encountered by our first parents and by Jesus in the desert and again in the other garden, the Garden of Gethsemane.  This is the struggle that Francis went through, especially during his early days.  There, in Eden or the desert or Gethsemane, like Francis, we learn that Christ alone is the fullness of life and our priority is to seek first the kingdom of God.  We repent and choose to follow the evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity and obedience.  We join Jesus on the cross and die to self.

Francis and His Father

Lady Poverty was a pearl of great price for which Francis gave up everything when he stripped himself of his clothes before his father and the bishop.  Earlier that day he had been begging in the streets.  The crowds were more abusive and louder than usual when Francis passed his father’s shop.  Bernardone was livid with shame and heartbreak.

Bernardone dragged Francis before the Bishop of Assisi, asking for the return of his money.  During this encounter and before all the people, Francis removed his clothes and placed them at the feet of his father.  He declared, “Until now I have called Peter di Bernardone my father.  Now I return his gold and the clothes I have received from him.  From now on I shall no longer say:  ‘My father, Peter di Bernardone,’ but ‘Our Father who art in heaven!’”

Many could not hold back their tears.  Even the bishop was emotional as he covered Francis with his own cloak.  Some castoff clothes of the gardener were found for him.

The rich young man in Matthew went away from Jesus sad.  His possessions were a barrier between himself and God.  He could not detach himself from those things that separated him from the Lord.  He could not surrender his heart nor deny himself.  No doubt Francis felt sadness too at the loss of his father, but he went away with the joy of  having bought a pearl of great price.  Francis went away poor, but he embraced Lady Poverty – he embraced the poor Christ – and became rich.  The kingdom of heaven was his.

“Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.  For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”  Matthew 16:24.

The Rule of the Secular Franciscan Order, Article 11

Trusting in the Father, Christ chose for himself and his mother a poor and humble life, even though he valued created things attentively and lovingly.  Let the Secular Franciscans seek a proper spirit of detachment from temporal goods by simplifying their own material needs.  Let them be mindful that according to the gospel they are stewards of the goods received for the benefit of God’s children.

Thus, in the spirit of “the Beatitudes,” and as pilgrims and strangers on their way to the home of the Father, they should strive to purify their hearts from every tendency and yearning for possession and power.

(Sources:  The New American Bible; The Journey and the Dream by Murray Bodo; Saint Francis of Assisi by Leon Cristiani; The Way of St. Francis by Murray Bodo; The Rule of the Secular Franciscan Order.)

Posted September 5, 2013 by ouidaofs in Beatitudes, Poverty, Rule of the OFS, Saint Francis

Blessed Are They   Leave a comment

My friend tells me that Jesus calls Secular Franciscans to go to his poor and needy and to bring the Great Light of His true doctrine.  It is not a prayer meeting he wants, but a life of prayer, following St. Francis.  He calls us to simplicity, purity and obedience to His truth and church.

The Beatitudes – Matthew 5:3-11

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted.

Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the land.

Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied.

Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.

Blessed are the clean of heart, for they will see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.

Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you [falsely] because of me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven. Thus they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Into the Way of Peace   Leave a comment

Written Memorial Day, May 28, 2012

On this Memorial Day, I am remembering the military who died for us on the battlefields of war as well as those who have come home to suffer with tragic wounds and loss of limbs. I am remembering my husband, who flew a B-24 in Italy during World War II.  I also am remembering Saint Francis of Assisi, not as the saint he became, but as the young man he was when he went off to war. His greatest desire at that time was to become a knight and gain fame and glory.

In 1202, there arose a great war between the centuries-old enemies of Perugia and Assisi.  Francis was 20 years old, and his father outfitted him in the finest attire to join in the battle.  Francis was wounded and captured at the Battle of Collestrada. It was a massacre. Thomas of Celano, the early biographer of Francis, indicated that it was beyond measure. The hills were covered in blood. Assisi was beaten, and the slaughter was great. Assisi was appalled, and everywhere there was weeping and mourning for those who were lost – the brightest and the best, the old and the young, the noble and the common.

[War and its consequences are the same always, then and now. There will never be an end to war until people and nations learn to forgive each other. It is that simple and that difficult because true forgiveness requires a change of heart and only God and his grace can change a heart.]

The angels surrounded Francis during the Battle of Collestrada, and according to God’s plan, his life was protected and spared. Many from Assisi were taken prisoner, including Francis. He was held in prison for about a year, until his father ransomed him. He returned home and suffered a long illness.

Francis’ carefree days of youth were over, and the road to his conversion rose up before him as he sought to find his way.  As a teenager, he had been a spendthrift, a dreamer, a rich, spoiled kid, indulged by both parents.  Then, during the years following his release from prison, he learned to listen to the voice of the Lord and was transformed.  This Memorial Day, I am reminded that Francis was chosen by God to lead us into the way of peace and to mirror the Christ, the Son of God living God. 

“Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof . . . .”
The centurion – Matthew 8:8

Posted May 28, 2012 by ouidaofs in Beatitudes, Franciscan, Peace, Saint Francis

Happy Are They

Blessed [happy] are the poor in spirit [humble and detached from things of this world] for theirs is the kingdom of heaven [for theirs is the divine life flowing into and through them into the world].

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”  Matthew 5:3.

Posted March 12, 2012 by ouidaofs in Beatitudes, Franciscan

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