Archive for the ‘Franciscan’ Category

A First Date   Leave a comment

francis3Francis of Assisi did some amazing things during his life, but it wasn’t the extraordinary things that made him a saint and still revered today. Most of Francis’s life was lived simply and ordinarily. How he did those ordinary things, the embrace of a marginalized person outside the Assisi walls, the conversation with a leader of another faith, the nonviolent being-in-the-world, the love of all creation, the simplicity of his needs and desires—this is what made him a saint. The way we live our lives, striving to make our whole lives our prayer, is what will make us saints too. Our lives of Gospel living, our living the Franciscan tradition in the world, deeply in love with God, begins as so many amazing love stories do: with a first date.

—from Daniel P. Horan, OFM,  Dating God: Live and Love in the Way of St. Francis (2012).

Posted January 17, 2017 by ouidaofs in Franciscan, Saint Francis

The Journey of Prayer   Leave a comment

Almighty God, and You my Lord Jesus Christ,
I pray you to enlighten me and to dispel the darkness of my spirit;
give me a faith that is without limit,
a hope that is ever unfailing,
and a love that is universal.
Grant, O my God, that I may really know You
and that I may be guided in all things
according to Your light and in conformity with Your will.
(St. Francis of Assisi)

Francis praying

“The journey of prayer for Franciscans is the discovery of God at the center of our lives.  We pray not to acquire a relationship with God as if acquiring something that did not previously exist.  Rather, we pray to disclose the image of God in which we are created, the God within us, that is, the one in whom we are created and in whom lies the seed of our identity.  We pray so as to discover what we already have – “the incomparable treasure hidden in the field of the world and of the human heart.”  We pray not to “ascend” to God but to “give birth to God,” to allow the image in which we are created to become visible.  We pray to bear Christ anew.  In prayer, therefore, we discover what we already have, the potential for the fullness of life, and this life is the life of Christ.”  Source:  Franciscan Prayer by Ilia Delio, OSF

“We are mothers, when we carry him in our heart and body through divine love and a pure and sincere conscience; we give birth to him through a holy life which must give light to others by example.”  Source:  Exhortation of Saint Francis to the Brothers and Sisters in Penance by Saint Francis.

Posted June 7, 2015 by ouidaofs in Franciscan, Prayer

Alter Christus   Leave a comment

Where Francis begins to differ from other saints/founders, is in his approach to Jesus. Where most seek to emulate one or more aspects of Jesus’ life, Francis becomes totally immersed in the reality of “all” of Jesus. Ultimately, the spiritual goal of a Franciscan is to struggle to become a total imitator of Jesus, to become “alter Christus” (another Christ) touching all of God’s creation as Jesus did. This is no small goal or challenge, but a path that will ask you to look deeply into how you set your life’s priorities, and how you live them out day to day.

~ Bob Fitzsimmons, OFS, “St. Francis and His Approach to Divinity” (FUN Manual)

Posted September 29, 2014 by ouidaofs in Franciscan, Saint Francis

Is God Calling You to a Vocation in the Secular Franciscan Order?   2 comments

The following writing describes what the Secular Franciscan Order is NOT and what it is, requirements for admission, characteristics of a good Franciscan, and the three stages of formation. Most important is that the call to make this life-time commitment is from God, and God alone, and that this call must be discerned.

First of all, the Secular Franciscan Order is not just another church group, club or “do good” social organization where one may participate for a while and then drop out. It is not a support group for the lonely or troubled or where one may come to resolve issues best taken up with a professionally, trained counselor.

The Secular Franciscan Order is one of the Orders in the Church, and profession is a life-time commitment. It was founded by Saint Francis of Assisi. It is the only Third Order in the Church founded by the founder of the First and Second Orders and whose founder wrote its first Rule. (Saint Francis founded the First and Third Orders, and Saint Francis and Saint Clare founded the Second Order.)

All in the Church are called to holiness and to be a saint. The Secular Franciscan Order is for those Catholics, not in a religious order, who are called by the Holy Spirit to fulfill the goal of holiness by embracing the Franciscan charism. It is for those Catholics who want to serve God and the Church by following in the footsteps of Saint Francis of Assisi. The call is a gift from God and must be discerned by the person and by the Order.

To be admitted into the Order, one must be a faithful, committed Roman Catholic, in good standing with the Church and absolutely loyal to the Roman Catholic Church, the Holy Father and the Magisterium. One must be a person of strong faith, attending Mass on Sundays, Holy Days of Obligation and perhaps during the week.

One must have a strong faith in Jesus and a desire to follow him. Our Rule states that the “rule and life of the Secular Franciscans is this: to observe the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ by following the example of Saint Francis of Assisi, who made Christ the inspiration and the center of his life with God and people.”

The SFO is to bring hope to the world; therefore, people who lack hope, are gloomy and pessimistic would not make good Franciscans. Perfect people would not make good candidates as we are a group of imperfect, sinful people, trying to do better. Our Franciscan life is not lived in isolation but in community; therefore, since we are not perfect, communication skills in relating to others is needed along with much forgiveness, patience and understanding.

Much is required, including work in ministries. Our experience has been that The Little Poor Man of Assisi asks his Little Plants to perform many tasks for Our Lord.

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Dream of Innocent III of Francis Holding Up the Church

Dear Brothers And Sisters, By Anne Mulqueen, SFO NAFRA Formation Co-chair I am writing my final article as Co-Chair of the National Formation Commission in the form of a letter rather than as a formation piece. Why? Because, while in Rome, presenting at the International Formation Workshop last March, I had an awakening that still fills me with wonder. The instrument of this awakening was a humble and holy friar named Fr. Felize Cangelosi. He simply said that the seal of the Holy Spirit received in baptism and confirmation and intensified by our “Yes” to a lifelong commitment as Secular Franciscans makes our Christian and Franciscan relationships stronger than blood.

During our days together, presenters and participants experienced fraternal life that was so loving and inclusive that we knew it was gift and grace and certainly more important than position, nationality, or any other earthly distinctions. We were immersed in an atmosphere of unconditional love that left the fragrance and taste of God ever present.

My prayer for you is that, in your fraternities, you experience, or will experience, the love for each other we had in Rome. If it is not present, you must be that channel. How do we do this?

(1) By connecting with God, the source of all love, through prayer, both private and communal, and exhibiting a sense of internal honor and moral integrity in our fraternal life.

(2) By responding to the needs of the poor in our fraternities – not only the financially poor, but those living with difficult life situations. Essentially, it is living the Beatitudes in fraternity.

(3) By developing the virtue and grace of gratitude. Grateful people are receptive, generous, forgiving and give to others because they know how much God has given to them.

(4) By answering God’s call to grow into his likeness, not simply as individuals, but as fraternities. How we relate to each other is as important as how we relate to God. Jesus said, love God and love your neighbor. Apparently, the two cannot be separated.

I do believe that if Secular Franciscans decide to live and love this way, we will taste the Goodness of God in this life. Heaven will begin right now! Please pray for me, and know that you will always be in my prayers.

Your sister in Christ, Anne

Source: TAU USA Fall 2006

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In Memory of Fr. Emmeran Frank, OFM, November 29, 1921 – June 21, 1997

Teach me O my Lord, to be sweet and gentle in all the events of my life – in disappointments and in the thoughtlessness of others – in the insincerity of those I trusted and the unfaithfulness of those on whom I relied. Let me put myself aside; think of the happiness of others; hide my little pains and heartaches so that I may be the only one to suffer by the crosses that come across my path. That they may mellow me, not harden or embitter me. As I go my rounds from one distraction to another let me whisper from time to time a word of love to Thee. May my life be lived full of power for good and strong in its purpose of sanctity. Amen.

Source: http://www.ourladyofthepearl.com

A SONG FOR NAGASAKI   Leave a comment

I recently read a book entitled A Song for Nagasaki by Fr. Paul Glynn, SM. It is the story of Takashi Nagai. Nagai was a devout Catholic convert, husband, father, teacher, doctor, and writer. Nagai lived in Nagasaki, in Japan, when the United States dropped the A bomb on August 9, 1945.

When the A bomb dropped on August 9th, Nagasaki suffered a direct hit in its Urakami district, the historic Catholic area, and 8500 Catholics were killed (including Nagai’s wife) and more suffered and later died from the effects of atomic radiation. St. Mary’s Cathedral was totally destroyed.

St. Mary’s construction began in 1895 and was completed in 1917, twenty-two years later. The work began under the direction of an amateur architect priest, and it was a colossal effort, all done by poor people. The Cathedral was 230 feet long and accommodated five thousand worshippers. It was largest cathedral in the Far East, with two bell towers more than one hundred feet high.

Intercessions of Fr. Maximilian Kolbe, OFM Conv.

When the bomb dropped on Nagasaki, Dr. Nagai was working at the hospital, about one-half mile away from the center. Soon he and others in the hospital began showing signs of radiation sickness. Nagai was thought to be dying, and in his coma, he heard a voice telling him to pray to the Franciscan friar, Fr. Maximilian Kolbe, OFM Conv. Nagai had known Fr. Kolbe well in the early 1930s and had x-rayed him concerning Fr. Kolbe’s chronic tuberculosis.

Nagai recovered by October 5th, and he attributed his remission for six years to the intercessions of Fr. Kolbe. Not known to Nagai, Fr. Kolbe had died on August 14, 1941, in the Nazi German death camp of Auschwitz in Poland. He was canonized Saint Maximilian Kolbe on October 10, 1982 by Pope John Paul II.

Fr. Kolbe had a history in Nagasaki between 1930 and 1936 when he undertook a series of missions to Japan and founded a monastery, Japanese paper and seminary. He established Mugenzai no Sono (the Garden of the Immaculate), built on the slopes of Mount Hikosan. It was saved when the bomb dropped because it was built on the opposite side of the mountain from the Nagasaki center.

Religious Persecution

A Song for Nagasaki describes the persecution of Japanese Catholics down through time and how they suffered and died for their faith. Truly, we in the United States do not know what religious persecution is compared to the people of Japan and other countries. We have not suffered physical torture or martyrdom at the hands of our government yet.

I have reflected on all the books I have read concerning torture and death of Christians, through actions or sanctions of the government, beginning in the New Testament. Consider all the persecution and deaths of Catholics and Protestants from the 1500’s, down through time, especially in England, beginning with Henry VIII. Consider de-christianization of France during the French Revolution. Consider events in Mexico in the 1900’s, especially in the 1920’s, depicted in the recent movie, For Greater Glory, and the book, Mexican Martyrdom by Wilfrid Parsons, S.J. Consider Nazi Germany (The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich by Shirer). Consider the history of Christian persecution, tortures, and deaths in countries throughout the world on this single website: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Persecution_of_Christians.

On the internet, Open Doors provides the World Wide Watch List of the 50 countries where Christians are most persecuted. The countries where persecution is most severe are North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Maldives, Mali, Iran, Yemen, Eritrea, and Syria. http://www.worldwatchlist.us/

Certain Unalienable Rights

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed . . . .” Declaration of Independence.

The First Amendment to the Constitution states: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

We must guard our religious freedom and keep the government from unconstitutional domination and restrictions. Learn from the history of other countries. Seek the truth and study the founding documents and history of our country, especially the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. Understand that the First Amendment to the Constitution, in the Establishment Clause, limits the power of our government but does not limit the religious freedom and power of the citizens, contrary to what is being indicated by the government, the media and others. Help to eliminate ignorance, apathy and the low information voter who may rely on Twitter and social media for their news.

Religious persecution often starts slowly, growing into a hideous, evil monster, ending in the suffering and deaths of many. Yes, it can happen to us here in the United States.

Let Us Follow the Poor and Crucified Christ

As Christians, we must fight against loss of religious freedom through prayer and fasting, through being a light to the world, and through standing for respect for life from conception to natural death. Most important of all, remember the Lord says, “ if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14. Is this not what Saint Francis also would say to us? Did he not put on the armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-17)?

All Christians are called to holiness and to live in the spirit of the Beatitudes on this journey home to the Father. Secular Franciscans must follow our Rule and the lead of our Holy Father Francis to live in simplicity and care for the poor.

It is not the duty of the government to care for the poor but the duty of the Church to assist and care for the poor, sick, orphans, widowed, the homeless and all the marginalized. We must not allow the government to usurp our duties to those in need in our country and the world. The Church restores dignity to peoples and leads to salvation for the many. It assists and cares but does not enable. The government creates dependency and powerlessness among the people in its drive for power.

In March 22, 2013, Pope Francis, in the audience with the Diplomatic Corps, spoke of “fighting poverty, both material and spiritual, building peace and constructing bridges.” He spoke of respect for the whole of creation and the protection of our environment. He is the Pope for our times, showing a true Franciscan spirit by his life and teachings. He points the way to the Way, and for Secular Franciscans, our Rule guides and instructs us.

The Twenty-Six Martyrs of Nagasaki in 1597
The Twenty-Six Martyrs of Nagasaki in 1597

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Sources and recommended readings on the World Wide Web

1. “The Catholic Holocaust of Nagasaki – ‘Why, Lord?’” Brother Anthony Josemaria, August 1, 2010.

http://www.hprweb.com/2010/08/the-catholic-holocaust-of-nagasaki-why-lord/

2. “Takashi Nagai’s Life and Message of Peace,” Cecilia Bryan, June 23, 2012.

http://catholicism.org/takashi-nagais-life-and-message-of-peace.html

3. Twenty-Six Martyrs Museum. http://www.26martyrs.com/

4. “The Conversion of Takashi Nagai, And His Vocation of Life,” Frank Weathers, April 28, 2013. http://www.patheos.com/blogs/yimcatholic/2013/04/the-conversion-of-takashi-nagai-and-his-vocation-of-love.html

Ephesians 6 – Battle against Evil.

10 Finally, draw your strength from the Lord and from his mighty power. 11 Put on the armor of God so that you may be able to stand firm against the tactics of the devil. 12 For our struggle is not with flesh and blood but with the principalities, with the powers, with the world rulers of this present darkness, with the evil spirits in the heavens. 13 Therefore, put on the armor of God, that you may be able to resist on the evil day and, having done everything, to hold your ground. 14 So stand fast with your loins girded in truth, clothed with righteousness as a breastplate, 15 and your feet shod in readiness for the gospel of peace. 16 In all circumstances, hold faith as a shield, to quench all [the] flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Source: http://www.usccb.org/bible/ephesians/6

God’s Hidden Sweetness   Leave a comment

 “. . . taste the hidden sweetness
which God himself has reserved
from the beginning
for those who love Him.”
St. Clare of Assisi

This message is not simply for Clare’s sisters, her community, but for us all, men and women alike, for it was Clare who most faithfully lived out the ideals and dreams of Francis of Assisi.  Even in her lifetime, her words of wisdom were food for the Brothers Minor and also for those members of the laity who went to the monastery seeking prayer and guidance.

The preceding lines to this verse above, taken from the first letter of St Clare to Agnes are:

“Place your mind before the mirror of eternity!
Place your soul in the brilliance of glory!
Place your heart in the figure of the divine substance  . . . .” 

They are a beautiful invitation to gaze upon the Lord.

In others words, deliberately and consciously place your mind and thoughts upon eternity, see your life and existence with eternity in view, and allow everything that burdens and distresses you to be seen in God’s magnificent plan for your life.

Place your soul in the light! the Light of God!   And place your heart totally in Jesus Christ, the God man, the Word made flesh.

In your thoughts, in your prayers, look beyond the confines of this world.  It is in this contemplation, this simple gaze, that you will find the hidden sweetness.

Sweetness in the Franciscan tradition is that grace, that touch of God whereby bitterness, that situation, that state which is bitter to us, is changed into sweetness because everything is seen in the light of his love and will.

Practice for the day:  What is the bitterness in my own heart? Pray for grace to find that hidden sweetness which can heal me.

Source:  Poor Clare Colettine Community

See also:  Praying With St. Clare

Posted June 24, 2012 by ouidaofs in Franciscan, Prayer, St. Clare

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

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