The feast of St. Francis of Assisi, who gave us our Rule, is October 4th. It is a Solemnity for us. We are in the words of Archbishop Flynn, an ‘eminently Franciscan’ family. On such Solemnities, we are free to refrain from the penitential practices of the Rule in whatever way we might be observing them. It is a time of celebration. So, if you want to wear some bright colors, do it, and since it occurs on a Monday, feel free to enjoy some meat or any of the other things you might normally give up. Have a wonderful Solemnity, but hold fast to your prayer and time with the Lord. May God bless us all!
FROM THE WRITINGS ON ST. FRANCIS:
"The time after Francis' conversion had now reached almost twenty years. Knowing that the time of his approaching death was at hand, Francis summoned two friars who were his specially beloved sons. He asked them to sing in a loud voice and with joy of spirit the Song of Praise to the Lord concerning his approaching (new) life which was at hand. For his part, he recited as best he could, the Psalm of David (Ps. 142).
One of the brothers who was present, one whom Francis loved with great affection, said to him: 'Good Father, your sons will now be without a father and will be deprived of the true light of their eyes. Remember the orphans you will leave behind. Forgive them all their faults and bestow the joy of your holy blessing upon all of them.'
Francis answered him: 'Behold, my son, I am being called by God. I forgive all my brothers, those present and those who are absent, all their faults and failings, and I absolve them insofar as I am able. When you tell them these words of mine, bless them all for me.'
Francis then had them bring a book of the Gospels and asked that the Gospel of St. John be read, John 13, 1-17. After this, Francis raised his hands to heaven and praised his Christ, because now freed of all things, he was going free to his Lord. Indeed, in order that he might show himself to be a true imitator of Christ in all things, he loved to the end his brothers and sisters whom he had loved from the beginning. He had all the brothers present there called to him and soothing them with comforting words in view of his death, he exhorted them with fatherly affection to love God.
While the brothers were weeping bitterly and grieving inconsolably, the holy Father asked that bread be brought to him. He blessed and broke it and gave a small piece to each one to eat. He was recalling that most holy supper which the Lord Jesus celebrated with his disciples. He did all of this in reverent memory of that Last Supper, showing the deep love he had for his brothers.
Francis then commanded that a hair-shirt be put upon him and that he be sprinkled with ashes, for he was soon to become dust and ashes. Then, when many brothers had gathered about, whose father and leader he was, and while they were standing reverently at his side awaiting his blessed death and happy end, his most holy soul was freed from his body and received into the realm of light, and his body fell asleep in the Lord."
Thomas of Celano: 1229
COMMENTARY: : by Bruce Fahey BSP
On the evening of October 3rd a special celebration is held in many parishes to commemorate the passing of St. Francis from this life to eternal life, as is described above in the writings of Thomas of Celano. This ceremony is called Transitus. In Transitus, we fondly recount the story of his death, and the way in which St. Francis sought to pass from this world in the spirit of penance, the way he had lived, wearing a hair shirt, and celebrating in a most holy and symbolic way, the institution of the Eucharist and the love of the Lord for us all, with his followers. Attend a Transitus if you can. If you cannot, meditate on the beautiful death of St. Francis as described above.
by Bruce and Shelley Fahey
RECONCILIATION….ANSWERS TO A QUESTION ON OUR FORUM...
Dear Members and friends,
Here is my question for your comments.
When we have enemies. People who really hate us or harm us by their comments, cruelty and rejection. Who are a long ways away from us and want nothing to do with us. Who slander us and count us as liars and evil even though we feel we have done nothing to deserve the labels. People whom we really don't care if we ever see again. How do we reconcile with them so as to fulfill our Rule? Is prayer for them enough? I look forward to your comments for my edification.
Thanks, and God bless you.
Bruce Fahey BSP
Excerpts from replies to the question above by members. For their full response please see the forums…
Casey Mitchell BSP: We can reconcile only if the other person is willing to do so also. My
Spiritual Director told me that forgiveness is an act of the will, not of the emotions. He
told me that all God expects from me is to pray… Jesus reconciled with His murderers by
asking the Father to forgive them, yet he did not personally reconcile with each one of
Linda Spohr BSP: Forgiveness is not an emotion or feeling. It is a conscious effort on our part to do what our Father requires of us. When we offer forgiveness it doesn't matter how the other person responds. Even if they don't accept our attempts at reconciliation, thats ok. Then we just pray for the other person. I don't think prayer is all we should do but sometimes prayer is all we can do. Then we give it all to God.
Suzanne Raymond SFO: Prayer is the key; forgiveness is not a feeling…
Janet Klassen BSP: Following the advice of our spiritual director is always wise...we are called to heroic virtue… the cutoff point on trying to reconcile should be ‘seventy-seven times’. I am reminded again of the reaction St. Francis had to those who abused him verbally and even physically as he begged. He THANKED them, saying the abuse was all he deserved from them.
Charles Holcomb BSP: Sometimes just acting as if nothing is wrong is a step to real forgivness. Like a band aid that covers a wound. If you have forgiven the person and have prayed for them, then I would say to get on with your life as best as you can.
Linda Curtiss BSP: I have had to forgive them (people who offended me) by an act of my will; all the while admitting to God that I do not feel forgiveness in my heart … I just continue to pray! , we need to do as Francis bade us; and do good to all men!
Bruce Fahey BSP: I am greatly appreciative for the thoughts shared here on this subject, which is both timely and important. Nonetheless, having considered what has been shared, the only thing I would add is that I feel that if you are the instigator of the problem, now seeking reconciliation, an apology to those wronged is both proper and critical to the healing process. Without acknowledging your error, without apologizing, you cannot say you are seeking reconciliation. We all say we are sorry to God for our sins to be reconciled to Him, and so we must with each other too.
ON THE FEAST OF ST. FRANCIS:
by FR. VALERIUS
Dear Brothers and Sisters of Penance,
Peace to you, and greetings on the feast of St. Francis of Assisi!
Whenever I think of St. Francis I always think of his great love for poverty and his own personal humility. In him these two virtues were always resplendent, and he made them the two primary heralds of his life for Christ and his Orders. His position did not change for the laity either, whom he always called to live simpler and humbler lives. Such is the call of the Rule of the BSP, which St. Francis endorsed for you to live. Live it with joy. Respect its call to poverty and humility. It is the right Rule of life for you to seek to live.
St. Francis never accepted any position of leadership in the Church, except that of becoming a deacon. He certainly could have been a priest, but in his humility did not consider himself worthy of that call. It is felt that he became a deacon at the time he visited Rome to meet with I believe Pope Innocent III, to get the approval of his group of followers and their way of life. Of course, none of his followers were themselves priests either. They followed Francis for they wished to enter into his life of poverty and humility. St. Francis brought them with him without ceremony. All that was required was that they sell all they had and give it to the poor and live the life of poverty and humility for their love of the Lord, and come to serve others in that same love. It was not until St. Bonaventure became active in the Order that priests were actually brought into the picture. This happened in 1245, some time after St. Francis had died.
Another key point to remember about St. Francis, when we consider his poverty and humility, is that he had no desire of any kind to become a founder. He just wanted to know and serve the Lord. This did not change even when he received the stigmata. He gave all responsibility to lead the Order to Brother Elias, and in time Elias turned against what he himself had wanted. In this way, a division was effected in the Orders of St. Francis even before St. Francis died by the unfaithful and head-strong Brother Elias. St. Francis resigned as minister when the brothers said they wanted to make him minister. He had no desire to lead anyone. Isn’t that amazing! He had followers, but he lead by example, and so you should really do, also. Lead by the example of your holiness. Be gentle, humble, serve others, and love the Lord.
The poverty of St. Francis is never more apparent than when he stripped himself naked before the Bishop and gave his clothes and his family future and fortune back to his father, saying: “I have no Father, but Our Father, who art in heaven…”. He disinherited himself from his family’s fortune. Brother Bernard, his first follower, came to follow St. Francis after watching him pray all night, according to the legends, and one must assume that the legends are true! Francis never sought anything for himself having renounced everything. He would spend his life begging at the table of the Lord.
For us, as his followers today, the message is that accepting the Rule of 1221 is a voluntary choice. The perfect way for us to embrace poverty and humility in our modern age. No preparation is required, except that I recommend the formation period as a time of discernment for deciding to live this lifestyle for the rest of your life. In one way or another we should all seek the privilege of poverty.
As lay people the privilege of poverty is to accept what you need to live on, and nothing more. It is holy as that is how the Lord lived in his Public ministry. Priests, of course, live the privilege of poverty even still these days.
St. Clare, of course, embraced poverty and humility too, after the example of St. Francis, under the privilege of poverty, though not at first. She was ultimately the first woman to be given the “privilege of poverty’ by the Church. After that, she and her followers lived at San Damiano, on donations only. Until that time women had to have an income to live a religious life on their own.
Greetings, and peace to all! Fr. Val
(Fr. Valerius Messerich O.F.M. is our first Visitor, now retired at Sacred Heart Friary in St. Paul, MN.)
NO GREATER LOVE: by PAUL BEERY
“Do not be conformed to the world…” Romans 12, 1-2 We have entered the Franciscan Season. We could call them the ultimate non-conformists. St. Joseph Cupertino would be near the top of that list. There’s a nice picture of him in the Marian Conference room at the Franciscan Retreat Center at Prior Lake. He is the best known of several Conventual Franciscan Saints. His ecstasies were so profound, he would float into the air. If our prayer life is lacking, we could look to him for inspiration.
September 17 was the Stigmata of St. Francis. Donna and I have special memories of this feast, having visited Mt. Alverna in 1994, taking part in the daily procession from the Church to the chapel. With
Peter we said in awe, “Lord, it is good for us to be here.” Why not? We can be there not only in spirit, but in truth. As we celebrate the feast of our holy father St. Francis this month, we can set our minds to the task of being, like him, faithful and true disciples of the Lord. The world has become a more inhospitable place: how would Francis show his discipleship today?
In a world where “the best lack all conviction, while the worst are filled with passionate intensity,” Francis would have provided plenty of passion for the good. Seeing the zeal of the worst, surely he would have been a leader promoting Life and the Love of God. I believe he would have been prominent in the Pro-Life movement, along with Mother Teresa.
Why has the world turned away from God? I think it could be traced to the French Revolution. Thank you, France. Many European Secular Humanist ideas were planted in America in the 1800’s, and they ripened in the twentieth century, bearing rotten fruit. A great blow to the faith was the Lambeth Conference in 1930, where Protestants submitted to birth control. This brought about widespread acceptance among Christians of the contraceptive mentality, whose advocates say NO to the plan of God
for their lives. Instead they will produce their own self-centered plan, absent the love, generosity and self-sacrifice found in all who live by God’s will.
Catholics officially accepted the contraceptive mentality 38 years later by soundly rejecting the prophetic encyclical of Pope Paul VI, “Humanae Vitae.” Thus began our modern era of flagrant disobedience and disregard for Church teaching “On Human Life,” which continues – shamefully – to this day. To be Pro-Life is first of all to be a model of fidelity and obedience.
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind...” It’s impossible to live the Pro-Life message without getting involved in real life and death issues. Mother Teresa came to America and said that the violence in our streets will not end as long as we suffer the violence of mothers killing their own pre-born children. In his encyclical “Evangelium Vitae,” Pope John Paul II spoke of the two great movements in the world today as “The Gospel of Life,” vs. the Culture of Death. He specifically defined the latter as consisting of abortion (and unlimited stem-cell research using tissue from aborted babies) and euthanasia. To be Pro-Life, then, is to make LIFE the primary issue above all others, while vigorously opposing abortion, abortion related stem-cell research, and euthanasia.
Many wish to expand this definition to suit another agenda. They would add all sorts of economic issues to the mix, spreading confusion. But we are talking about the physical death of the innocent, far more important than mere economic issues. If the definition of what it means to be Pro-Life is expanded, it should be in the area of morality. Isn’t death to the soul more serious than physical death? Consider what Jesus says in Luke 12, 5: “Do not fear those who kill the body and can do no more. Rather, fear him who after he has killed has power to cast into hell.”
Promoting Life requires a profound moral component. The world hates morality and prefers legality - through its own immoral laws, e.g. Roe vs. Wade. We are not fooled, or deterred. “So that you may judge what is God’s will, what is good, pleasing and perfect (in His sight).” And how are we certain to do that? “through the mercy of God, offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, your spiritual worship.” Our penitential life will produce in us the courage to not only promote Life and the Love of God, but vigorously oppose the Culture of Death, death to body and soul.
(To be concluded next issue…)
Morning Star Chapter—BSP
THE RULE AND STATUTES
THE BROTHERS AND SISTERS OF PENANCE OF ST. FRANCIS
CHAPTER I: DAILY LIFE
RULE: ARTICLE 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.
STATUTES: ARTICLE 3
a. All clothing and accessories must be modest and chaste. They must also be simple and inexpensive unless a dispensation is given according to the estate or employment of the person and custom of the place.
b. Penitents should attempt to live as simply and inexpensively as possible according to their state in life. With the consent of their spouses and families, they are to have the minimum number of and least sophisticated appliances, furniture, furnishings, electronic aids, and vehicles as necessary. However, the following of this section of the Rule must not create more work or inconvenience for penitents or other family members.
COMMENTARY: by Shelley Fahey BSP
Compared to the era of St Francis, dressing modestly and chastely today is coming from a broader perspective. Fashions have many more alternatives now. We have dresses, (short, long and in-between), slacks, jeans, shorts, blouses, sweaters (sleeves and no sleeves). A vast array of choices to make each day. Also, women are now in the workplaces of the world and our responsibilities are very different today. We dress according to the task that we will be doing or the occasion that we are attending. In all instances we must always be modest and chaste and not draw attention to our body. Our clothing should be our shield and not an invitation. Temperate, and not flashy. The goal is not to draw attention to ourselves by the way in which we dress according to our state in life. This would also include not dressing down to the point of drawing attention to ourselves by simply ‘looking’ penitential. We must also consider the durability of our clothing and accessories when we buy them. Sometimes we may find ourselves spending more buying two items of a lesser quality rather than buying one of higher quality that might last as long or longer. In this case, we would be more frugal to buy the better quality item. So, we have many choices to make that did not have to be made in the time of St. Francis.
Our homes are where we nourish our families and family life. The Rule of 1221 was given to the laity by St. Francis to live in their own homes. We need to strive to create an environment in which we can do this joyfully. Let us not clutter our lives with the things that do not nourish both our family life, and our life under the Rule.
FRANCISCAN SAINTS: The Gipsy Saint - El Pele' - Blessed Ceferino Jimenez (1861-1936)
Ceferino was a Spanish Gypsy. Unable to read or write, a respected horse trader, good husband and father. His is a compelling story of goodness and faith in Christ.
Little is known about his background, except that like a true Gypsy, he moved about a good bit and left little record. That may also be why he was baptized as an adult. At the age of 51 he married his childhood Gypsy sweetheart, Teresa Jimenez Castro, according to the rites of the Church and Gypsy ceremonials. They lived in Barbastro, and had no children, but they adopted his niece Pepita, whom they fondly trained in horsemanship and Gypsy culture. Theirs was the typical Gitano expertise with horses, and the passion for bullfighting. Ceferino was proud of his heritage and spoke the Gypsy language whenever the occasion offered.
Teresa died in 1922, and the widower continued to live in Barbastro. Under the guidance of a priest-professor, Don Nicholas Santos de Otto, he began a career as a catechist. Although without formal education and quite likely illiterate, Ceferino was a bright man, and he could and did participate in many parochial good works, like feast day celebrations, nocturnal adoration, Eucharistic minister and visitor of the sick, rosary leader, choir director, and so forth. He had a widespread reputation for holiness. He was also a man full of contagious joy and a lover of nature. Appropriately, he became a Franciscan Tertiary in 1926.
In 1936, Spain was on the threshold of a civil war. Particularly at the war's outbreak in 1936, the party associated with the new Spanish Republic violently persecuted the Catholic faith, bearing down not only on priests and religious, but also on laymen who dared to defend the Church, or even to express their membership in it.
Ceferino was one of those public Catholic laymen. When his witness was put to the test on several occasions, he could only answer as he believed, in a staunchly Catholic sense. He had a strong personality and was unafraid of people's opinions. One day in the Town Hall Square, witnessing an injustice, he could not refrain from shouting in defence of a young priest: "Bullies! Mother of God! So many people against one innocent person!" With that, some of the soldiers turned and leapt on the Gypsy. Blows rained down on his head and shoulders. They arrested him along with a dozen others, imprisoning the whole group in a cell 16 by 16 feet. Later the prisoners were transferred to another jail. In both places, the 75-year-old Gypsy catechist constantly led the rest in the Rosary to sustain their morale.
An anarchist, a member of the revolutionary committee and one of his acquaintances, tried to persuade him to give up his rosary in exchange for his freedom, but Ceferino refused.To him, his rosary signified his faith.
Resigned, and calm, he spent the next fifteen days in the cell, with some others. Some, who escaped death, later testified to his constant praying.
Around three in the morning the night between Saturday and Sunday, the 2nd or the 9th of August, Ceferino along with his Bishop Florentino Asensio Barroso and eleven others were taken from their temporary jail, thrown on the back of a truck, and carried to the cemetery. On the way, the driver of the lorry says that the seventy five year old Ceferino never stopped shouting out "Long Live Christ the King." He was shot in the cemetery of Barbastro, under the lights of the lorry in which he was brought there. He was holding his rosary tightly in his hand.
His captors stripped his body, took it to the cemetery at night, and buried it in quicklime, his Rosary still twisted around his hand. Only after the war was Ceferino reinterred next to his wife. Besides the Rosary he left only one other thing, a set of stable keys. Rosary and keys have become precious relics.
In 1997 Ceferino was beatified by John Paul II in St Peter's, Rome, as the first gypsy martyr. Archbishop Giovanni Cheli, president of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant Peoples, under whose auspices falls the ministry for Gypsies, said that Ceferino is "the first son of the Gypsy people recognized in a solemn way by the Church for the holiness of his life, the heroic nature of his virtues, his martyrdom for the faith. He had the wisdom and knowledge of things that God hides from the proud and the wise of this world, and reveals instead to the small ones, to the humble. Ceferino was illiterate and poor, but rich in charity. Humble, but great in the faith. He frequented Mass and communion and loved the rosary, and it was with rosary in hand that he underwent martyrdom."
The irreducible message of Jesus for all people of all times is one of radical faith and commitment. In justice to God, we uphold vows taken to Him and make sacrifices for the sake of His love, such as accepting martyrdom rather than abandoning the faith. Jesus described the normal Christian life: "If they persecute Me, they will also persecute you," He told His disciples, "for they do not know Him who sent me." (John 15:20-21)
We need to take His warning to heart, count the cost of discipleship, and pray to be prepared for inevitable battles. Now is the time, before we yield to the voices that call for compromise and consensus, to heed His call:
Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, Who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross. For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged." (Hebrew 12:1-3)
Those who choose uncompromising discipleship will find an unspeakable joy in His nearness. Ceferino did.
To sustain us through the battles ahead, our King gave us many precious promises. Few bring me more delight than the following words from our Master. May they fill you with joy at the unspeakable privilege of serving our sovereign King, following in His footsteps, and sharing His resurrection life for all eternity.
Blessed are you when men hate you, and when they exclude you, and revile you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of Man's sake. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy! For indeed your reward is great in heaven. (Luke 6:22-23)
Submitted by Anna Ferroni—Turin, Italy
THE ADMONITIONS OF ST. FRANCIS:
Good works must follow knowledge
St. Paul tells us, “The letter kills, but the spirit gives life” (2 Cor. 3:6). A man has been killed by the letter when he wants to know quotations only so that people will think he is very learned and he can make money to give to his relatives and friends. A religious has been killed by the letter when he has no desire to follow the spirit of Sacred Scripture, but wants to know what it says only so that he can explain it to others. On the other hand, those have received life from the spirit of Sacred Scripture who, by their words and example, refer to the most high God, to whom belongs all good, all that they know or wish to know, and do not allow their knowledge to become a source of self-complacency.
FOR THE LOVE OF GOD[*]:
OUR RULE AND STATUTES
Article 8 of the Rule
CHAPTER III: FASTING
8. From the Pasch of the Resurrection to the feast of All Saints they are to fast on Fridays. From the feast of All Saints until Easter they are to fast on Wednesdays and Fridays, but still observing the other fasts enjoined in general by the Church.
For the Love of God - We “must fast” as Christians, or at least that is what St. Francis said to all of us in his writings. And with due cause, because fasting, or mortification of the senses, is important to growth in the spiritual life. Fasting was prevalent in the lives of many of the Great Saints. It is one of the pillars of spiritual growth, which fact we can and hopefully will learn from our own personal experience of God. And, as a major personal benefit, through fasting we are set free from the world and gain the strength to say “NO” to what we must.
To comply with these tenets one should observe the Friday fasts from Easter to All Saints day, November 1, which is a sort of summer fast, and the fasts on Wednesdays and Fridays from All Saints to Easter, which could be called a winter fast. It makes sense to fast more in the winter than the summer anyway due to the personal activity levels most of us observe in these seasons, being more active in the summer than the winter. Of course, one must assume that the greater fasts were principally set in place because of the seasons of the Church, i.e., the rich liturgical seasons of Advent and Lent. Nonetheless, the timing and levels of the fasts make sense.
For the Love of God - "One day when he was riding on the plain below Assisi he met a leper. The encounter was completely without warning and Francis felt sick at the sight of him. Then he remembered his resolve to be perfect and the need to overcome himself first, if he wanted to be a knight of Christ. He immediately dismounted and ran up to kiss the poor man. The leper stretched out his hand, hoping to get something and Francis put some money in it and kissed it. Then he mounted his horse and looked this way and that about the plain with a clear view in all directions, but there was no sign of the leper. He was thunderstruck but his heart was filled with joy and he sang God's praises in a loud voice, resolving to do more in the future."
This reading points out that we certainly can fast from things other than food too. St. Francis here clearly fasted from doing his own will in favor of being charitable to the leper. He often did this type of thing. And how richly was St. Francis rewarded with the disappearance of the leper, a great mystical experience from the Lord to confirm the action of His servant, Francis.
However, although St. Francis did deny himself in many ways other than through eating, he nonetheless fasted from food. And although the Church will certainly support our acts of self denial other than from food, fasting as defined in the First Rule is actual fasting from eating food. We can and should feel free to deny ourselves in other ways to promote charity and the strength of selflessness within ourselves and in our world. But we should fast from food as prescribed if we are serious about living this Rule.
For the Love of God - Remember "...the disciples were urging Jesus, ‘Rabbi, eat something.’ But he told them: ‘I have food to eat of which you do not know.’ At this the disciples said to one another, ‘Do you suppose that someone has brought him something to eat?’ Jesus explained to them: ‘Doing the will of him who sent me and bringing his work to completion is my food’...". (John 4:31-34) There is no better food than doing the “will of God”!
And, as regards work and fasting we can recall what St. Paul said as a personal meditation and sound advice. “We gave you a rule when we were with you: not to let anyone have any food if he refused to do any work. Now we hear that there are some of you who are living in idleness, doing no work themselves but interfering with everyone else’s. In the Lord Jesus Christ, we order and call on such people of this kind to go on quietly working and earning the food that they eat.” So, if we don’t work we should not eat either! As lay people we are the Lord’s workers in the art of subduing the world and mastering it for the Love of God. In it but not of it...hopefully.
And, regarding letting people know we are fasting we should recall what Our Lord said in the Gospel. “...when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right is doing, so that your almsgiving may be secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you." ( Matt 6:3,4) Jesus said further, “...when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you may not appear to be fasting, except to your Father who sees what is hidden. And your Father who sees what is hidden will repay you.” (Matt 6:17,18) The point is don’t tell people you are fasting even if it means you must eat something to prove it! Preserve your treasure!
[*] 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
OUR LADY OF THE ROSARY: by Winnie Spencer-Dealy BSP
October is Our Lady's month, and we honor her as Our Lady of the Rosary. What a beautiful title! We should also remember that the Feast of St. Francis, the Father of our Association, is on October 4th. Now we have two reasons to celebrate.
Our Rule's foundation is prayer, prayer, and more prayer, as I have said so many times in the past. Under Option Two of Chapter Four, we are allowed to pray the full 20 decade Rosary in place of the Liturgy of the Hours, if for some reason we cannot sit down and say the Office. I find this option refreshing and a grace. Sometimes I am unable to sit down for Daytime Prayer, and saying the Rosary takes it's place. Or sometimes, I am dead tired and forget to say Night Prayer. What is waiting for me at the side of my bed? My dear Rosary, and it reminds me to pray. So I end the night with a prayer on my lips, and honor to Jesus and Mary in my heart.
Our Lady gave us fifteen promises to those who pray her rosary. I won't repeat them here, for they are already well known. But suffice it to say that it is in our best interests to pray the Rosary, every day! Who cannot fit a mere 15 minutes of prayer into their lives? Getting up 20 minutes earlier or going to bed 20 minutes later is sufficient time. Surely we have a half hour lunch where we can dedicate half of that to prayer. Or, if even that is not possible, there are numerous CD's and cassette tapes with the Rosary prayers on them. How easy to pop them into the tape or CD player in our vehicles and pray the Rosary there whilst we are driving! With that option, we need not even carry the Rosary in our hands, as the audio will prompt us when needed. Certainly we can do this for Our Lady. There is no better way to relieve the stress of traffic than to be praying the Rosary, and dedicating that time to prayer. It certainly beats mostly everything that is played on the local radio stations these days!
A beautiful place to pray the Rosary is in front of the Blessed Sacrament of the Altar. This is also a good place for contemplative prayer as well. When one is making a holy hour, dedicate 15 to 20 minutes of that prayer time to the Rosary, then the rest for your usual prayers. How effective is the Rosary at battling Satan and his wiles! How it pains him to hear the familiar "Hail Mary, full of grace..." With Jesus and Mary at our sides, we shall be unstoppable.
In every apparition of Our Lady around the world, she admonishes us to pray her Rosary.
The Rosary guides us in the happenings of the life of Jesus, and we are to contemplate His blessed life. From His birth to His death, from the first miracle at Cana to the institution of the Holy Eucharist, Jesus' words and actions are ever on our minds. And how we shall learn from His holy example!
- With the Rosary we shall obtain world peace.
- We shall fight against many temptations and persevere in many trials.
- With the prayers of the Rosary on our lips, we shall have strength and holiness on our side.
So this month, let us remember daily our Rosary. Do not be tempted to think that you don't have the time, or that the Rosary is nothing more than repetition, for it us much more than that. It is our guide to Jesus, our strength in prayer, our advocate against the devil. Remember the promises of Mary to those who lovingly pray her Rosary! Surely we will persevere for we find in the Rosary Jesus, our loving Brother and Savior. Amen!
Winnie Spencer-Dealy, BSP
St. Francis' death (detail)
By Giotto (probably)
Bardi Chapel, in Santa Croce Church, Florence (Italy)
painted around 1310-1313
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 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
"You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.'
But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father,” (Matt. 5:43-45)