St.Theresa's Method of Mental Prayer
From Fr. Altier
- best preparation is conviction of the importance of mental prayer
and a staunch determination to persevere in its practice
- recollection, spiritual reading, spiritual ejaculations during the day
- choose a precise time for mental prayer
- place yourself in the presence of Christ
Selection of Material
- choose a comfortable position
- humble yourself before God
- read from a book, study a picture or crucifix, etc.
- the source should prove provocative of conversation with Christ
- Gospels are often the best source
If there is something pressing in your life, this should be the topic
- reflect upon the chosen topic to arrive at an imaginative representation
- ask questions, e. g., who, what, why, where, when, with what, how, etc.
- you may want to place yourself in the situation
- address Christ in the third person, i.e. "He"
- converse with Our Lord about the topic of the day's prayer
- employ affections, e.g., love, thanksgiving, sorrow, petition, adoration
- address Christ in the second person, i.e. "You"
- speak from the heart with your own words, do not move your lips
- allow silent times to listen to Christ
- if the conversation begins to falter, return to the consideration to stimulate
thoughts for additional conversation
- express gratitude for the conversation
- examine the meditation and express the appropriate affections
- make resolutions concerning things which arose in prayer.
FROM: BSP RETREAT TALKS - 2005
NO GREATER LOVE: by PAUL BEERY BSP
"Then they took Jonah and threw him overboard, and the raging sea grew calm." (Jonah 1:15)
The raging seas have been punishing America. The men on the ship knew God was angry with Jonah. Who shall we throw overboard? Secular fundamentalists know who is responsible: America. They blame air pollution by mankind for allegedly causing global warming – responsible for virtually all the natural disasters the world is experiencing. Religious fundamentalists blame moral pollution definitely caused by mankind.
According to the Secular theory, America is to blame for not signing the Kyoto treaty (to reduce pollution), allegedly causing greenhouse gases to raise the world's temperature to dangerous levels. I have a big problem with this theory, for it seems to be the height of arrogance for humans to think they can possibly affect the world's climate. Only those who have arrogated to themselves the ability to play God – to control not only their own lives but everything around them - could even jump to such a conclusion. Creatures blinded by colossal pride can pretend to be more powerful than their Creator, but that doesn't make it so. A little humility is in order for the puny creature. We may as well blame ants. Ants cause global warming because they make too many holes in the ground that absorb excess heat from the sun. Makes no sense. The world may be warming, as it has many times since the creation of the world - long before the Industrial Revolution, but to pretend that for the first time in history mankind is responsible for it is ludicrous. A more likely cause is the sun, which is getting considerably hotter. Solar flares have been quite spectacular for years. Da. Could it be that a hotter sun means a warmer earth? Even Mars is warming. These things go in cycles, quite independent of mankind. Recall the eruption of Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines, which caused global cooling for the next 3 years. That's the power of God, and only He has it as the Master of creation.
The Secular left does not believe in the divine, but only the human, by which all can be explained. So they have their "scientific" theories, and the gospel of Karl Marx, a gospel of materialism imposed by an earthly savior, the State, which will bring salvation as long as they are in charge. But they aren't, so nothing works. Disasters are occurring because the left is not in charge! They are the only ones capable of handling the numerous crises, real and alleged, crises based not on facts, but partisanship and emotion. Civil discourse is virtually impossible with the left, because they are not interested in facts, logic, reason, or THE TRUTH! They are driven by crass partisanship, based solely on emotion. The hysteria coming from these folks is reaching record levels, for they are close to being out of power – and out of CONTROL – for the indefinite future. Robert Bork explains in his masterful book "Slouching Towards Gomorrah," about "Modern Liberalism and American Decline," that people used to be absorbed with the duties of
their state in life, and politics was a minor issue. But the left made politics into their religion, driving it from a marginal activity to an all-consuming passion. For example, when environmentalists saw the success of "Silent Spring," by Rachel Carson, and its ability to mobilize the gullible masses by exaggerating some alleged environmental catastrophe, we've been subjected to one crisis after another, one
hysterical presentation of impending doom after the other.
The Secular left just loves this pattern. They politicize EVERYTHING, and threaten impending doom if the "Religious Right" takes over. They are masters at the Blame Game. No new ideas: just whine, complain and obstruct. Bash Bush. Bash conservatives. Bash Judeo/Christians and their God. I've never seen such pure vitriol and hatred like this in my life. And from a group of people that has hitherto labeled themselves as loving and compassionate. While such fear-mongering and demagoguery has motivated their core constituency, it hasn't won elections; and now they're in danger of losing the Supreme Court, the ultimate disaster.
Religious fundamentalists, meanwhile, blame moral pollution. While the term is used derisively, I don't shy away from it. Gospel
Catholic/Christians are grounded in the fundamentals of their faith, just like the Secular left is grounded in the fundamentals of atheism. While there is no basis in fact for the left's assertion that air pollution produces natural disasters, there is a long historical record to back up the assertion that moral pollution indeed does. Open Sacred Scripture, and from beginning to end find countless examples where God commands, His wayward children disobey, and are punished in a very decisive manner—from Adam and Eve on. Consider Sodom and Gomorrah, Noah and the great flood, the Israelites wandering forty years in the desert, and Jonah…"When God saw what (the people of Nineveh) did and how they turned from their evil ways, He had compassion and did not bring upon them the destruction He had promised."
In the last 160 years we have seen numerous appeals by our Blessed Mother, who urges her children to repent and come back to her Son's love, to postpone threatened destruction by repentance, prayer and fasting. Pope Leo XIII collapsed at the altar while having a vision of the next hundred years given over to the power of the devil. He composed the prayer to St. Michael the Archangel in response. Witness the twentieth century, the most bloody and gruesome in history. While that century mainly witnessed the death throes of Europe as the governing force in the world after a two thousand year reign, the twenty-first will have a very different dynamic. Will Christian America prevail over European Secular Socialism, Chinese style Communism, and unrelenting terrorism from Islamic fanatics? The fate of the world may hang in the balance.
But first, Christian America has to retain its Christian heritage. In the midst of a cataclysmic cultural battle, our side is losing. America has been blessed beyond measure for numerous reasons, including the fact it was founded as a Christian, God-centered nation, based on "Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." It has given public homage to our Creator: "In God We Trust" is on its coins. America's generosity is unparalleled, including defending and protecting God's Chosen People when the rest of the world is ready to abandon Israel to its enemies. But America is under attack from the enemy within, all the God-less forces the Evil One can muster. Worse, many Godly people are publicly assisting the promotion of the left's Culture of Death. The infidelity of many left of center Christians has contributed mightily to the moral cesspool all must swim in. The erosion of moral standards has only been possible through the Secularization of mainline Protestant Churches, whose liberal members have joined with their Catholic
counterparts to subvert absolute Gospel principles of right and wrong. The infidelity of so many followers of Jesus is not without cost.
I firmly believe America has been chosen and blessed by God to be a light to the world, the only remaining nation that will sacrifice itself and fight for freedom of the oppressed. That light has been darkened through the spread of moral corruption all over the world, with the cooperation of followers of the light. None of us are exempt from a thorough examination of conscience. Fr. Dubay said there are more people who are converted from serious sin than those who are converted from a comfortable life to heroic virtue. We have our work cut out for us, my friends.
TO BE A CHRISTIAN...
by Winnie Spencer Dealy
What if you were told that you, too, could become a Saint, and be transformed into a living, breathing Christ, alive in this very time, walking on this earth? And what if all you had to do was one thing to accomplish such a feat? However, (there's always a catch!) this one thing isn't easy, nor is it instantaneous. You must strive for long periods of time on this one thing, but the reward you would receive from God would be boundless glory in Heaven with Him, and even union with Him on earth. Would you do it? What is this one thing?
The Saints all knew the secret of sanctity. Maybe they didn't read it from a book, or learn it from a Superior, but for many of them, God Himself taught them. And many of them spent years developing this practice. The secret of this holiness is prayer. Is it really that simple? Yes, it is, for if one reads enough biographies and writings of the different Saints of the Church, one constant theme emerges--that of prayer and union with God.
In Bonaventure's Life of St. Francis we read in Chapter 9: "Jesus Christ crucified always rested like a bundle of myrrh in the bosom of Francis' soul (Cant. 1:12), and he longed to be totally transformed into him by the FIRE of ecstatic love." (Caps mine.) It goes on to say that from the feast of the Epiphany through a period of 40 days, St. .Francis shut himself up in a cell "fasting, praying and praising God without interruption." Again, "His very marrow burned with love..." St. Francis would often seek out deserted and lonely places to pray and commune with God Later on in the chapter we read: "In remembering all the saints who are like fiery stones (Ezech. 28:14,16), he BURNED WITH A DIVINE FIRE..." (Caps mine.) What is this metaphor we read of, the "fire of Divine Love"?
In my hour of Adoration today, I was graced by a special vision concerning the fire of Divine Love, and how it works in us and through us. The meditation book I was using to help me mentioned a "secret hearth", and I grasped that phrase as it drew a lovely picture for me. I saw that deep within each of us we have a Hearth of Divine Love, burning with a fire. This Hearth is in a room deep inside our soul, with many other rooms surrounding it on all sides, top and bottom. (Please refer to St. Teresa of Avila's "Interior Castle" for a similar description.) The means to enter this room is prayer, and the deeper our prayer life gets, the closer we come to entering this room. The closer we get to this Divine Hearth, the "warmer" we get from the fire of Divine Love. As we pray, our hearts warm up with love, the very same love that God has for us, and that Jesus had for all mankind, yesterday, today, and forever. We must pray and come as close to this Hearth as possible, so that we may be "inflamed" with love. We warm up with this love, and then leave the room when we stop praying and go about our daily business. But just as a person who is close to the fire remains warm after they have left the fire's proximity, so we are still warm with God's love when we leave this Hearth and attend to our daily lives.
Now think of all the people in this world who are longing for this warmth--this Love! We are to be the conductors of this love--the conduit, so to speak, for this love has it's source in the Heart of God. We gather this love in prayer, then go about the world, touching others with our warmth, and sharing that fire of Divine Love. The deeper our interior life, the closer to the Hearth we get, and the longer the heat stays with us. It is our job to share that fire with others--it is our apostolate.
And so we participate in the mystery of Redemption, and become collaborators with Christ! Each person we come in contact with receives some of this fire of Divine Love, and it encourages them to edge closer to the Hearth. Of course, some people are so cold that the warmth we transfer to them won't stay with them long, but for some, it's exactly what they need to begin to cultivate an interior life of their own, and begin their own journey to God. As our prayer life deepens, we find that we are able to go about our daily lives, still spiritually in the room with the Hearth, always in contact with that Divine Fire. As happens with the Saints, if we stay long enough in this room, at some point the Fire will consume us (spiritually, of course) and we will experience union with God.
It is this constant theme that is found in all the Saint's lives--they entered this room, and at some point were consumed in Love. And the fire that burned within them continues to warm us today, for we still have the treasury of their biographies and writings. That, my brothers and sisters, is the one thing that we must practice--prayer. For some of us, it may seem impossible to embark on this journey--we are too busy, we find prayer "dry", we receive no consolations when praying, our minds are distracted, etc. Persevere, I say! Be determined to persevere, MAKE the time during the day, or even the night, for all of us make time for what is really important to us. Let us not ask for consolations in prayer, but receive with love what the Lord gives us. Ask the Holy Spirit for the grace of concentration, and do not give up asking! Find a quiet spot and implore our Lord. St. Francis "had learned in prayer that the presence of the Holy Spirit for which he longed was granted more intimately to those who invoke Him, the more the Holy Spirit found them withdrawn from the noise of worldly affairs." He will give us this Fire if we but ask for it! I pray that each and every one of the Brothers and Sisters of Penance may be inflamed with this burning desire for Divine Love and union with God. I remain lovingly,
Your sister in Christ,
INVITATION TO ALL!
You are invited to join a joyful celebration of the Eucharist
con-celebrated by Fr. Jesus Camacho & Fr. John Donoghue
in the year of our Lord—October 22, 2005,
will be clothed and admitted to formation in the Secular Order of Discalced Carmelites
which is a Third Order in the Catholic Church.
The ceremony will take place at
St. Mary's Catholic Church, 2604 W. State Street, Boise, Idaho.
If you cannot make the celebration please keep Winnie in prayer! We wish her Congratulations and God's Blessings in this deeper commitment to Christ! Winnie remains an Honorary member of the Brothers and Sisters of Penance of St. Francis.
Franciscans of Mercy, Franciscans of light
by Robert Michael Francis Hall BSP
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
He was in the beginning with God. All things came to be through Him, and without Him
Nothing came to be. What came to be through him was life, and this life was the light of the human race; the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it." John 1; 1-5
The moment you read or hear about St. Francis you are a Franciscan, or you are not. What God did through him captures your heart and mind in a way that leaves you knowing that you belong to the Franciscans. Whether you belong to an Order or simply let the ‘'light' of His love burn quietly within you as you stand alone with the convictions that God worked mightily in the poor little man of Assisi. That God's light has shone through Francis and his followers is a story that is one of the more romantic to be found in the history of our Church.
"Let there be light." Francis came to know what this meant to him, to his followers and to the world. The mandate for the whole of creation is stated when the Lord said, "It should become Light." Francis understood God's plan is that all the world—even the darkness—should become light.
In the well known prayer of St. Francis he states after the opening line of "Lord make me an instrument of Thy peace…" in the litany that follows to include "...where there is darkness, light…" as one of the ways in which Francis wanted the Lord to use him to bring about the will of God. It was part of the mission that lead to eternal life for Francis and for his followers then and now.
Before created matter there was an infinite light that filled all and left not room for anything but the light. The light was withheld so the world might be created in the resultant void. Then the world was created, with the purpose of returning to that original state of light—yet to remain a world. All the world's problems stem from light being withheld. Francis knew that it was his and our mission to correct this. Wherever we as Franciscans, find light we must bring it forth, exposing it to all, letting it shine forth to the darkened ends of the earth. Especially the light you yourself hold.
The Lord did not give the Franciscans light that we may hold it up in the day. We are given light in order to accomplish something, to do something difficult, to further His glory and for the mission of the Church. Franciscans must take their light and transform the darkness that it may shine! When as a Franciscan you come to a place that seems outside God's realm, too coarse for light to enter...and you want to run away...know there is no place outside of God, and rejoice in your task of uncovering Him there. Fighting evil is a very noble activity when it must be done. But it is not our mission as Franciscans. Our job is to bring in more light!
If you, as a Franciscan, see what needs to be repaired and how to repair it and bring it light, then you have found a piece of the world that the Lord has left for you to complete. But if you only see what is wrong and how ugly it is, then it is yourself that needs repair and the light made manifest in your lift. Do what the Lord expects of you as a follower of St. Francis, and He will provide what you want from Him.
(Robert is an inmate at the Federal Correctional Institution at Edgefield, South Carolina. He diligently completed formation by mail and officially will make his profession to the BSP life and the Rule of 1221 on October 2, 2005, and is now our latest Professed member. This article is from his in-prison publication, The Sparrow and will be a regular feature of Follow Me because it is very well written and rich in content. I am happy to say I have been his formation advocate and friend for these past four years and ask everyone in the BSP to join me in prayers for Robert, especially on October 2. If you would like to write him please let me know. Bruce Fahey BSP)
FRANCISCAN SAINTS: Blessed Angela of Foligno (1248-1309)
"For when I see Him, I would like never to depart thence, but to come closer and closer; and so my life is a dying..."
Angela was born in Foligno, Italy, in 1248 and lived most of her life in the small Umbrian
town of her birth. Angela, who belonged to a wealthy family, married and had several children.
She took part in the social events of the city, ruled a large household of servants, lived
In her 30s, about 1285, she underwent some kind of moral crisis: she was overcome with sorrow for having led a pleasure-seeking, sinful life, or maybe she had committed some sin so shameful that she would not tell her confessor, and therefore she feared hell. She prayed to Saint Francis of Assisi, and in a dream he promised to help her. She felt repented, recognized the emptiness of her life and soon after was able to make a whole confession, seeking God's pardon in the Sacrament of Penance for her previous life of selfishness and greed. This confession was a turning point in her life.
In Foligno and its neighboring town, Assisi, the memory of Saint Francis, who had died in 1226, was still fresh. It is not surprising, then, that Angela was inspired by Franciscan ideals. After her conversion, she dedicated herself to prayer and the works of charity. She sought to embrace Franciscan poverty, but her remaining family and her spiritual advisors did everything possible to dissuade her.
But one by one her mother, her husband and all her children died. The local Franciscans finally allowed her to make her profession in the Third Order of St. Francis when she was about 43. That same year she made a pilgrimage to Assisi in order to petition St. Francis to pray that she receive three graces: the first of feeling Christ's presence in her soul, the second of keeping the Franciscan Third Order Rule (the 1221 Rule, that the BSP follows and promotes in our times), and the third to become and remain truly poor.
From this point on, her life was completely changed. The thought of her sins gave her a desire for mortification, suffering, and reparation. Selling most of her possessions, she embraced a life of penance under the Rule of 1221 and modelled her life on St Francis.
One day she had a vision and found herself before a crucifix, stripping herself of her clothing, vowing poverty and chastity. Since then, she immersed herself in the contemplation of the Passion of Christ, and she chose the Sorrowful Mother and the faithful disciple John as her patrons. The sight of the wounds which her Lord suffered for her sins urged her to the practice of still greater austerities. Once our Lord showed her that His Heart is a safe refuge in all the storms of life. His life from that moment on was replete of sacrifices and of austerities.
One day that she was tempted of discouragement: "When he would be true, Lord, she said, that You would have condemned me to the hell that I deserve, me would not quit making penitence and of staying, if he pleases You, to Your service." once, after have washed the feet of a leper, she proposed to his companion of drinking the water who had served them. Surmounting all gentleness, she swallowed all this fetid water: "I never have, said she, found good taste to no liqueur, and however I had felt well in my plugs the scales who had fallen some hands of this poor."
God permitted her to be afflicted with severe temptations against her purity. The most horrible representations distressed her soul. These painful temptations lasted over two years and purified her soul from any attachment to sin, impelling her to draw nearer to God and to unite herself more closely to Christ Crucified.
In 1291 she made a pilgrimage to Rome and asked the Privilege of Poverty from the Pope. Back to Foligno, she sold the remainder of her possessions, giving the proceeds to the poor, and later lived as a mendicant, a poor beggar, completely dependent upon the charity of others.
She was a soul whom God chose to fulfil the role of a mystic. Her spiritual director, Brother Arnaldo, carefully investigated what was going on with Angela during the visions and ecstasies that were granted to her with startling frequency. He was extremely doubtful, and so he began writing down her experiences so that he could discuss them with other members of the clergy. These notes eventually became The Memorial, an account of her spiritual life.
Brother Arnaldo describes the stages of her spiritual journey, sometimes of God's presence and joy, sometimes of the deepest desolation and temptations of the devil. For Angela "the whole world was filled with God," and she was in almost constant communion with Him. She speaks of Christ as the God-man, stressing the paradox of Divinity and Humanity. At the top of her spiritual ascension, Angela knows "the certainty of God" tasting God in the supreme darkness. "My soul doesn't see anything, and she sees absolutely all" she says.
Yet we would misunderstand the interior life of this mystic, or any other, for that matter, if we imagine that her life was without pain, without constant suffering. Angela herself tells us that at times she was overcome with grief because she could see nothing but the extraordinary goodness of God and, in contrast, the vanity of earthly things and the ingratitude of creatures, including herself. The sight of a crucifix produced in Saint Angela abundant tears. The intimacy she enjoyed with God was a grace which at one period of her life was entirely withheld from her, that she might like Job, become a model of constancy amid great and prolonged torments.
She was a great lover of the Holy Eucharist. She saw Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, sometimes as a beautiful child, sometimes crucified, bleeding and dying, and other times surrounded with glory and majesty. One day when Blessed Angela had a great longing for Holy Communion but could not get a priest to bring her the Blessed Sacrament, the Angels brought Holy Communion to her.
Angela quietly lived in Foligno, alternately absorbed by meditating on the crucified Christ and by serving the poor of Foligno as a nurse and beggar for their needs, and also suffering much ridicule for her piety and spirituality, until her death in 1309.
Her tomb is in the church of St. Francis in Foligno. Thousands of tourists who annually visit Assisi and pray at the tombs of Saint Francis and Saint Clare, but only few travel the short distance to Foligno and visit Angela's tomb. But she, like the Saints of Assisi, has many a lesson for our day. Angela of Foligno is considered by many as the greatest mystical voice among Italian medieval women. She is sometimes called "the Mistress of Theologians." And this great penitent was not less admirable by her visions, her writings and her ecstasies than by her spirit of poverty and penance.
Submitted by Anna Ferroni—Turin, Italy
THE ADMONITIONS OF ST. FRANCIS:
XVIII. Compassion for one's neighbor
Blessed the man who is patient with his neighbour's shortcomings
as he would like him to be if he were in a similar position himself.
The Year of the Eucharist—A special Indulgence:
Pope John Paul II designated 2005 as the Year of the Eucharist!
Many indulgences are given this year. One may obtain a plenary indulgence by participating in a sacred function or devotional exercise undertaken in honor of the Blessed Sacrament, solemnly exposed or conserved in the tabernacle. That is, you need only spend some time in adoration before the Blessed Sacrament to gain the indulgence! You may receive a plenary indulgence by reciting Vespers and Night Prayer before the Lord present in the tabernacle.
One must meet the three usual conditions:
1. Sacramental Confession 8 days before or after the day of the indulgence.
2. Reception of the Holy Eucharist.
3. Prayer for the intentions of the Holy Father. (An Our Father and Hail Mary are recommended.)
Indulgences can be obtained for oneself or for the souls in Purgatory. Indulgences cannot be obtained for other living persons.
Holy Family and St. Francis,
painted in 1625 by Peter Paul Rubens
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 blessing 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. Just send them to the BSP at
firstname.lastname@example.org. 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!
'Let the dead bury their dead. But you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.'