To be crucified:
According to the deceased A. W. Tozer, a recently converted individual approached an older Christian and asked the following question: What does it mean to be crucified?
The Christian replied: “ To be crucified implies three things. First, the crucified individual always has their eyes fixed in a single direction; secondly, he cannot turn back; thirdly, he doesn't have any more plans of his own.”
The point is: 1 focus on Christ; 2 accept where you are; and 3 surrender to God’s will.
"Fé para Hoje", Nº 13, 2001
THE WHY OF LIFE - By Anna Ferroni BSP - Italy
The following sentences would have little meaning if they were not accompanied by my own experience of suffering.
For more than 20 years now I have suffered with the effects of clinical depression. I have lived with the tiredness one feels when getting up each morning wearing "dark glasses" which color the present, past and future, as also my human relationships. Due to my depression I suffer also from a lack of self-esteem and worth. Due to my disease, I know the temptation to commit suicide, which arises when I hear within myself a voice that says: "I have no longer the courage to carry on living". I have had to fight it off constantly, and I have learned that I am impotent and radically poor on my own. I have been brought face to face with my inability to find meaning in my life. My daily temptation is to say: "Everything is finished for me, all that is left is for me to die".
What have I learned in this life, during which I have felt so many times the desire to die? I have learned 'Jesus crucified'. The death of Christ, Son of God, accepting fully the human condition, explains to me, and to all of us, the profound meaning of life. The glorious Resurrection is the last word. In the light of the Resurrection, human weakness, including the drama of suffering and death, including my problems, takes on a new meaning.
And, I have learned the value of friends, especially Bruce and Shelley Fahey, and prayers. I find solace now in my friends and work in the BSP, and I ask for the prayers of all so I can continue to slay my dragon, clinical depression. I thank you all for your friendship and prayers for me, and I ask for prayers for my husband, Piercarlo, as well, as he is very ill. I feel stretched, but I will endure, for the love of God.
Thanks! God bless you!
FOR THE LOVE OF GOD[*]:
OUR RULE AND STATUTES
CHAPTER I: DAILY LIFE
3. The sisters in turn shall wear an outer garment and tunic made of cloth of the same price and humble quality; or at least they are to have with the outer garment a white or black under wrap or petticoat, or an ample linen gown without gathers, the price of an ell of which is not to exceed twelve Pisa denars. As to this price, however, and the fur cloaks they wear a dispensation may be given according to the estate of the woman and the custom of the place. They are not to wear silken or dyed veils and ribbons.
For the Love of God - This is most certainly a call to women to decide how to dress! It does seem that long skirts, and/or loose, comfortable, clothes would fit what is stated here. Nothing here says a woman should not try to be beautiful and the physical beauty of human form is one of God's gifts to us. While we ought not flaunt it, we can nonetheless appreciate it for what it is, remembering that it is only one of many such gifts, the greatest gifts of which he has given us are spiritual, the human intellect, will, and memory, i.e. the human soul.
Other points made in this article don’t necessarily fit as drafted but do by intent on closer consideration. For instance, while practically everything is dyed these days (“They are not to wear silken or dyed veils or ribbons.”), not everything is gaudy. So one can avoid “idle or unnecessary” show in their clothes, and instead observe a strong measure of simplicity of both style and color.
Another testimony being made here is that whatever an "ell" or a "Pisa denars" were we can be confident they were modest sums, again calling us to avoid expensive clothes. Ribbons, veils, lace and silk have their place when they do, today's dress being considerably different than in the time of St. Francis. Of course, it is also true that one could embrace these aspects of the First Rule as an act of penance and salutary reminder, to oneself, of the need for simplicity.
For the Love of God - It is recorded that St. Francis warned his brothers never to judge or criticize those who live in luxury, eat fastidiously, and indulge in superfluous and splendid clothes: God, he said, is their Lord and ours; he has the power to call them to himself and to justify them. Let us sincerely ponder this lesson from Father Francis. God can justify anyone for “all things are possible with God” (Mk 10:27). If He chooses he can use our “riches” to save us. So, criticize no one and do not be covetous of your neighbors goods.
For the Love of God - We should all love Mary, both Mother of God and our mother, as did St. Francis and all the Saints. We in this modern age have been uniquely and especially blessed by her through her regular appearances over the last two centuries, even to her appearances of today. As Catholics we cannot deny approved appearances. And, although we need not believe in them personally they are a source of spiritual treasure for many of Christ’s Faithful.
Whatever value you feel her appearances have, whether you believe in them or not, recognize that you cannot deny approved apparitions of Our Lady, and do not criticize those who do believe in them. Scripture explicitly states, “Do not despise prophetic utterances” (1 Thes 5:20) and her appearances are usually very prophetic in nature.
If we criticize others for believing in an alleged apparition, what are we trying to prove? That they are wrong? What if Our Lord sends His Mother to one of us and to only one? Who do we think we are to say that He cannot do that when the entire matter is neither up to us nor necessary to salvation. It might just be that they are worthy and we are not! So let’s not condemn those who find meaning in the appearances of Our Lady in our modern world unless the Church has itself condemned the alleged appearance. Then and only then can we, too, condemn the alleged appearance, as what is not condemned by the Church might still be approved. What will we do if we have condemned a particular appearance of Our Lady and the Church then approves it? Let us all be wise here!
However, what we can do is consider how Mary has dressed in her modern appearances to the world. Just considering the approved appearances of Our Lady to the modern world we know more of our Mother than we can even learn from the Scriptures. Review and consider how she looked at LaSalette, Lourdes, Fatima, and elsewhere. She has never appeared to us dressed lavishly except on her feast days. She is Our Queen Mother and the Mother of God. She who is always a model of human and spiritual virtues for us speaks gently, condemns no one, and admonishes us carefully, always respecting our free will. She has always appeared to us dressed very nicely, but simply. What does that say? Ask yourself how she would dress were she on earth today. And then ponder the words of the magnificat wherein Our Lady expresses her joy in her “lowliness”.
[*] This is a meditation on the Rule of 1221 written by Bruce and Shelley
Fahey prior to the creation of the BSP. Do not confuse this meditation with
the official Rule and Statutes of the BSP as posted on the web page at
www.bspenance.org which define how we live the Rule today. A copy of the
Rule and Statutes of the BSP may be obtained by writing the BSP
NO GREATER LOVE: by PAUL BEERY
Reflections on “The Passion of the Christ,” which did not disappoint.
The second time around was almost as powerful as the first. If this movie does not bring one to tears, then one has a heart of stone. “Even the stones will cry out.” If only there had been complete silence in the theatre for at least an hour after the movie ended. Time was needed to deal with raw emotion, as though one had been turned inside out.
After catching a glimpse of the supreme sacrifice of the Son of God, how can one express a feeling of wonder and awe? We read the words, we hear the story, but we remain aloof. Sight, sound, scourging, blood everywhere, Jesus suffering; the drama burns into our consciousness.
What can I do for you, Jesus, how can I relieve your suffering?
If I were a confessor, I would require those who committed a serious sin, especially a sin of the flesh, to watch the entire movie for their penance – with the express intention of asking: “Jesus, how can I relieve your suffering?”
If I were a spiritual director, I would counsel those who have serious temptations to immediately think of, or watch if possible, the scourging of Jesus with the intention of asking: “Jesus, do I want to do that to you?”
If I were a penitent, I would cry out with David; “A crushed and broken heart, O Lord, you will not spurn.” You have said, Lord, that we must forgive our brother seventy times seven. How many times have You forgiven me? Will the time ever come when I never offend You again? Can I be like Simon of Cyrene who came to your rescue: “STOP, STOP! If you don’t stop (beating Him) I won’t carry this cross another step. I don’t care what you do to me.” Give me the same look, Lord, and pierce me through. Give me that kind of courage. Make me stop scourging You. Make me lighten your load, Lord, and help You carry my cross.
“All you who pass by the way, look and see if there be any sorrow like my sorrow.” Mary our Mother, you followed Jesus faithfully in your fiat, even to the greatest sorrow of all, the scourging of your Son: “It has begun, Lord. So be it.” He could always count on you. As a little child falls, “I’m here.” In the temple, at Cana, during His ministry, wiping His precious Blood, Jesus fallen under the weight of the cross, in the dust, forsaken, “I’m here.” And Jesus said: “See Mother, I make all things new.”
Peter: “Wherever you go, Lord, I will follow, even to my death.” Wrong. But Jesus gave Peter a look of forgiveness. He went to Mary: “I have denied Him, Mother,” and he wept bitterly. To Jesus through Mary; to Mary through Jesus: true repentance. “Who is your father? Who are you?” asks Satan. The mystery portrayed beautifully in the garden, throughout the Passion. The answer? A mighty foot upon the head of the serpent! And when Jesus gave up His Spirit to the Father, a disconsolate demon in the pit of hell wailing for all eternity – a fatal case of mistaken identity.
“Flesh of my flesh, heart of my heart, let me die with you.” Mary kisses the feet of Jesus on the cross, His blood mingles with her tears. Mother of sorrows, turn our sorrow into joy, mingle your love with our tears. Let us hear the good thief: “Listen, He prays for you.” Listen and understand, see and hear for yourself: there is no greater love!
Morning Star Chapter—BSP
A NATIVE AMERICAN STORY
An elder Cherokee Native American was teaching his grandchildren about life.
He said to them, "A fight is going on inside me, it is a terrible fight and it is between two great wolves!”
One wolf is evil --
he is fear,
The other wolf is good --
he is love,
This same fight is going on inside you, and inside every other person, too."
They thought about it for a minute and then one child asked his grandfather, "Which wolf will win?"
The old Cherokee simply replied,
"The one you feed."
FRANCISCAN SAINTS: Saint Catherine of Genoa
"Since I began to love, love has never forsaken me. It has ever grown to its own fullness within my innermost heart."
St. Catherine of Genoa (1447-1510) was born to an aristocratic family. From early on she was attracted to the spiritual life. Her sister was already a canoness regular and her confessor was the chaplain of that convent. When she asked to be received, they decided that she was too young. Then her father died and, for dynastic reasons, her widowed mother insisted that the 16-year-old marry a wealthy man, Giuliano Adorno, and although this step was contrary to her wishes, yet her great simplicity, submission, and reverence for her parents gave her patience to endure it.
Her husband was unfaithful, violent, and a spendthrift. The first five years of their marriage, Catherine suffered in silence. Then she determined to win her husband's affection by adopting worldly airs. She sought to divert herself from the great vexations which her husband caused her, by associating with other ladies, and occupying herself with the affairs of the world as they did. As it turns out, this only made her unhappy because she lost the only consolation that had previously sustained her: her religious life. Ten years into her marriage, Catherine was a very unhappy woman; her husband had reduced them to poverty by his extravagance.
In 1473, life changed for Catherine after she experienced a profound spiritual conversion. She experienced a sort of ecstasy. She was overwhelmed by her sins and, at the very same time, by the infinite love of God for her. Very plainly too did she see all the offences she had committed against him, and cried out continually: "Oh Love, no more sin, no more sin!"
This experience was the foundation for an enduring awareness of the presence of God and a fixed attitude of soul. She was drawn back to the path of devotion of her childhood. Within a few days she had a vision of our Lord carrying His cross, which caused her to cry out, "O Love, if it be necessary I am ready to confess my sins in public!" On the Solemnity of the Annunciation she received the Eucharist, the first time with fervor for ten years.
She began going out into the streets of Genoa, caring for the poor. Giuliano then experienced a conversion too. They joined the Franciscan Third Order.
To live a simple and charitable life according to the 1221 Rule, life, Catherine and Giuliano moved into a small house near the Pammatone Hospital in Genoa, and began working there for free.
Catherine also performed many penances. For four years she made extraordinarily long fasts without abating her charitable activities. She was sometimes asked, when practising mortifications: "Why are you doing this?" And she answered: "I do not know, but I feel myself interiorly and irresistibly drawn to do so, and I believe that this is the will of God; but it is not his will that I should have any object in it." And it seemed indeed to be the truth, for, at the end of four years, all these mortifications ended, so that if she still wished to practice them, she could no longer have done so.
In 1479 Catherine and Giuliano moved into the hospital, and in 1490 Catherine was appointed Director, a post she held until 1496. During her Directorship the disastrous plague of 1493 hit the city. Four-fifths of the citizens who had remained in Genoa perished. Later that year Giuliano died.
After relinquishing the Directorship Catherine continued working at the hospital. Catherine died in 1510 after several years of declining health. Her bodily frame was shattered by sufferings from head to foot, so that there was not a limb or nerve that was not tormented. She appeared as transfixed to the cross, abandoned to her sufferings, with no desire but for the Blessed Sacrament.
During her final years she spoke to friends about her spiritual experiences. These teachings were later written down and transmitted in two treatises, On Purgation and Purgatory and The Spiritual Dialogue.
We know Catherine's mystical life from these works, which were examined by the Holy Office and pronounced to contain doctrine that would be enough, in itself, to prove her sanctity. She experienced a deep conflict between her humanity and the spirit. She was attracted by divine love, suspended in the air, drawn up by intense desire to reach heaven, yet attached to earth by her human part. Sometimes she could hardly breathe so great was the vehemence of her inward fire.
Sometimes she uttered expressions like these: "I see without eyes, hear without understanding, feel without feeling, and taste without tasting. I know neither form nor measure; for without seeing I yet behold an operation so divine that the words I first used, perfection, purity, and the like seem to me now mere lies in the presence of the truth. The sun which once looked so bright is now dark; what was sweet is now bitter, because sweetness and beauty are spoiled by contact with creatures. Nor can I any longer say: `My God, my All.' Everything is mine, for all that is God's seems to be wholly mine. Neither in heaven nor on earth shall I ever again use such words, for I am mute and lost in God."
Catherine is an outstanding example of the religious contemplative who combines the spiritual life with competence in practical affairs. Her example encourages us to seek the integration of action and prayer. The time of contemplative prayer is the place of encounter between the creative vision of union with Christ and its incarnation in daily life. Without this daily confrontation, the contemplative vision can stagnate into a privatized game of perfectionism or succumb to the subtle poison of seeking one's own satisfaction in prayer. On the other hand, without the contemplative vision, daily renewed in contemplative prayer, action can become self-centered and forgetful of God.
Union with God might be likened to the transformation of a worm into a butterfly. The life of a butterfly totally transcends that of a worm, but the worm contributes to the process by weaving its own cocoon. By living the Rule, we too weave our cocoon, die to self, and await the moment of resurrection.
Yet she was always fearful of "the contagion of the world's slow stain" that had separated her from God in the early years of her marriage. She converted, and lived a penitential life. She underwent the purification of the soul that we find in many saints' lives. At first, the soul enters in the depth of repentance to be strippen, being illuminated by the purging light of the gift of understanding. The soul experiences the infinite purity of God, and by contrast becomes conscious of his own sinfulness. The fruits of conversion are true humility, and a living faith that begins to savor the mysteries of the supernatural things. But the most perfect fruit of conversion is a very great love of God, a pure and strong love, that hesitates before no difficulties or persecutions. This love, which is hunger and thirst after the justice of God, may be given to us.
Submitted by Anna Ferroni—Turin, Italy
The Crucifixion with the Virgin and St. John, St. Jerome (left side panel), and St. Mary Magdalene (right side panel)
Author: Peter Vannucchi, named Perugino, 1485
The National Gallery of Art, Washington DC
BROTHERS AND SISTERS OF PENANCE OF ST. FRANCIS
is a 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
Visit our Web site at: www.bspenance.org
A lot of new pages (prayers and meditations) in the Reading Room.
“One goes more quickly to heaven from a hut than from a palace”.- St. Francis of Assisi
Welcome to the Brothers and Sisters of Penance!