How the Crucifix spoke to him for the first time; and how he henceforth carried the passion of Christ in his heart until his death.
One day, while Francis was fervently imploring God's mercy, the Lord revealed to him that he would be taught shortly what he was to do. From that moment he was so full of joy that, besides himself with gladness, he would let fall occasional words of his secret for me to hear. This happened in spite of his habitual caution; for he did not speak openly and merely declared that he no longer wished to go to Apulia but would do great things in his own land. His companions noticed how changed he was; and indeed his heart was already far from them, even though occasionally he accepted their company. They tried to probe into his mind and agan asked whether he was thinking of marrying, and as before he answered in a figure of speech: "I shall bring home a bride, more beautiful, richer, and nobler than any you have ever seen.
A few days after this, while he was walking near the church of San Damiano, an inner voice bade him go in and pray. He obeyed, and kneeling before an image of the crucified Savior, he began to pray most devoutly. A tender, compassionate voice then spoke to him: "Francis, do you not see that my house is falling into ruin? Go, and repair it for me." Trembling, and amazed Francis replied: "Gladly I will do so, O Lord." He had understood that the Lord was speaking of that very church which, on account of its age, was indeed falling into ruin.
These words filled him with the greatest joy and inner light because in spirit he knew that it was indeed Jesus Christ who had spoken to him. On leaving the church he found the priest who had charge of it sitting outside, and taking a handful of money from his purse, he said: "I beg you, Sir, to buy oil and keep the lamp before this image of Christ constantly alight. When this is spent I will give you as much as you need."
From that hour his heart was stricken and wounded with melting love and compassion for the passion of Christ; and for the rest of his life he carried in it the wounds of the Lord Jesus. This was clearly proved later when the stigmata of those same wounds were miraculously impressed upon his own holy body for all to see. Hence forth he continually mortified his body most harshly, not only when we was well, but also when he was ill. Seldom indeed did he relax this severity; so much so, that on his deathbed he confessed to having sinned grievously against Brother Body.
One day he was roaming about alone near the church of Saint Mary of the Angels, weeping and lamenting aloud. A certain God-fearing man heard him and, thinking he must be ill, asked pityingly the reason for his distress. Francis replied: "I weep for the passion of milord Jesus Christ; and I should not be ashamed to go weeping through the whole world for his sake." Then the other man fell to crying and lamenting with him.
Often when he rose from prayer we saw that his eyes were inflamed and red from his bitter weeping. Besides shedding abundant tears, Francis also abstained in memory of our Lord's passion from eating and drinking. When he happened to be at table with people of the world and food pleasant to the taste was offered to him, he ate very little, making some excuse in order not to appear to be fasting. Alone with the friars he would sprinkle ashes on his food, trying to hide his penance by saying that Brother Ash was chaste…Francis until his death was conformed to the passion of Christ.
(Legend of the three Companions - 1246)
VISITOR'S MESSAGE: Fr. Altier: What It Means to Love
Reading (Acts 15:22-31) Gospel (St. John 15:12-17)
In the Gospel reading today, we hear one of the most famous passages of the Gospel: our Lord telling us that we must love one another, and that there is no greater love than to lay down your life for your friends. What a wonderful thing that He calls us no longer servants, but He calls us friends and He lays down His life for each one of us. He tells us at the same time that we will be truly His friends if we do what He commands us. It is not just an easy sort of thing that we can take in a flippant way, but rather it has a demand on our side as well. We have to do what He commands us to do, and He has commanded us above all to love. That is the point we have seen over the last several days. We have to love God; we have to love our neighbor. Then He tells us how to do it is to lay down our life.
Now when we look at the crucifix, of course, there we see the greatest act of love that humanity has ever known. God is not necessarily asking that we will go to the Cross - physically, that is; spiritually, we must. For those who are married, you have made a vow and that vow is to lay down your life for the person to whom you have given yourself. It is to lay down your life not once for a couple of hours on the Cross, but every single day and every single moment of every single day. We are to pour ourselves out. We are to learn how to love perfectly. I always tell the couples at their weddings that the idea is that every single day your love must grow more and more. Love never is static. It either grows or it goes backwards. If we are not
loving more then we are loving less. Loving more is two people who are in love with one another giving themselves totally, completely, and as perfectly as they can to the other person. They are seeking the good of the other, trying to build up the other, and helping the other one to become a saint. That is what true love is really all about.
The goal of married life, as it is for Christian life in general, is to become saints so that on the day that you die the Lord will be able to look at you and see a perfect reflection of Himself (One who is Love.) He will see one who has loved so perfectly what he or she has vowed that they will reflect the Lord completely. That is the goal of what this life is all about. As Christians who are baptized into Jesus Christ, we are called to the love of Christ Himself. No matter what our state in life, we are called to love; we are called to give. That is what love is all about. It is not a question of what am I going to get; it is a question of what am I giving. For married couples, you have given yourself entirely. It is not a partial gift. It is not something you can look at and say that you gave fifty percent or eighty percent. You gave one hundred percent. There is nothing left to take back. You have given it all. On a day to day, minute by minute, hour by hour basis, it is a matter of giving all constantly, continually. It is not an easy way, but it is the way of love. That is what our Lord has commanded us.
We see even from the first reading what the early Church recognized. They said to the early converts, "We do not want to burden you with anything beyond what is absolutely necessary." That is exactly what our Lord is
doing for us. He says to only do what is necessary; we do not want to burden you with anything else. And what is absolutely necessary is to love: to love God, to love neighbor, to pour ourselves out completely as Jesus did on the Cross. We must continually come before Him in prayer, because that is the only way that we can do it. On a natural level it is not possible, but with God's Grace, all things are possible. With the Lord,
through the Lord, and in the Lord, we can love and we have been loved. We can pour ourselves out and we can die for the person who is with us, not physically always, but spiritually to die to self so that we can live for another. In pouring ourselves out, we can give life to the other person. In giving life to the person, that individual recognizes what it means to be loved, and then will be able to love in return in a more perfect manner. That is the way God works with us. He pours His love into us and we are to be able to love Him in return. On a human level for married couples, for children, and so on, it is the same thing. We give to one another, and on receiving that gift from another, we learn what it means to be loved. It opens our hearts and we can respond in love. We can give of ourselves and we can lay down our life in that way, pour it out entirely, and there is no greater love than to lay down your life for your friend.
ADMINISTRATORS MESSAGE: HAPPY EASTER!
by Bruce and Shelley Fahey BSP
We want to take this opportunity to wish everyone a Happy Easter!
This is our Season of Life. We celebrate what is holy and good about our faith and we focus on the message of Our Lord and His call to us to rejoice and be happy and be confident in our future. As St. Paul says: "For if we have grown into union with him through a death like his, we shall also be united with him in the resurrection." (Rom. 6:5)
To prepare for it let us all embrace the Triduum, Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday, with devotion and holy awe. Let us study and reflect on what our Lord suffered and how he suffered for us. Let us walk with Him in mystery to the Garden of Olives. Let us stay there when he is arrested. Let us walk beside Him as He is taken to the Sanhedrin, and stand beside Him in humble awe as we behold Him delivered to the gentiles, denounced and wrongfully condemned, and then scourged to the point of death for our sins for " Upon him was the chastisement that makes us whole, by his stripes we were healed." (IS 53:5) Walk with Him up Calvary. See the heartrending meeting between Him and His Holy Mother. Hear the hammer pounding nails in His hands and feet. See the thrust of the lance through his side and the blood and water flow out. He is taken down and placed in the arms of His Mother. He is taken from her and buried. Having reflected on this, recalling His promise to rise again with His apostles and mother, we can await the Resurrection! Then, what joy is ours anew!
Bruce and Shelley
NEWS ON THE FAHEY'S! RETIREMENT!
In this issue of the newsletter we also wanted to share with you our retirement from 3M! Bruce completed 40 very happy and successful years with 3M Company on March 23, 2006 ending his career in Human Resources, during which time Shelley was completely immersed in his work. Actually, Shelley was a 3Mer too earlier in her career for some time before our family grew. Thank you Lord! We are retired!
Now we can do what we choose for however long God gives us! Since we have been called to build this Association now for over 18 years already, we will certainly continue to administer to it for as long as we live and can handle it. What might that mean that is different? In a word, we hope to be more available to our members.
Aside from that, we have many fun plans for our retired life. We have seven children, and seventeen grandchildren, most of whom live in Minnesota and reside within driving distance of where we live. As some of you already know, we have a beautiful home in Scandia, and a rustic cabin in northern Minnesota. We have friends now all over the world, mostly in the Association, and we hope to travel a little as we can afford it. Our first scheduled travel, after visiting our children in Maryland, will be to make a pilgrimage to Medjugorje on the 25th anniversary of Our Lady's appearance there (as of yet unapproved by the Church but OK for pilgrimages.) We thank God for this new life. Celebrate our joy with us, and let us know if there is anything we can help you with at any time.
Your brother and sister in the BSP, at your service, in Christ!
A LETTER FROM ARCHBISHOP FLYNN
by Janet Klasson BSP
"And (Jesus) said to them (on the road to Emmaus), "Oh, how foolish you are! How slow of heart to believe all that the prophets spoke! Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and enter into his glory?" (Luke 24:25-26)
"For if we have grown into union with him through a death like his, we shall also be united with him in the resurrection." (Romans 6:5)
For all of us, there are times when we echo Jesus in our own Gethsemane that this cup of suffering might pass us by. Sometimes, the Lord answers our prayer and removes our trial. But there are times, as with Jesus, when the Father asks us to enter into his will, to trust him on this, that there are bigger things at play than we know about. It is at these times that we are asked to embrace suffering as a gift.
In these Scripture passages taken from the Easter liturgies, two truths are revealed. The first is that it was necessary that Christ should suffer. Taken together with the second passage, we can infer that if we desire to be united with Christ, that suffering and death is also necessary for us in order that we might be united with him in his resurrection.
St. Catherine of Genoa, in her "Treatise on Purgatory" has given us much food for thought on the issue of suffering. While what she is referring to in her Treatise is the suffering we endure after death in order to be purified of "the rust and stain of sins", I believe it may be applied as well to the sufferings we are asked to endure here on earth. In the first paragraph of Chapter I we read:
"This holy soul (Catherine), while still in the flesh, was placed in the purgatory of the burning love of God, in whose flames she was purified from every stain, so that when she passed from this life she might be ready to enter the presence of God. […] She comprehended in her own soul the condition of the souls of the faithful in purgatory, where they are purified from the rust and stain of sins, from which they have not been cleansed in this world."
Chapter XVI has this to add about the souls in Purgatory:
"For if his goodness did not temper justice with mercy (satisfying it with the precious blood of Jesus Christ), one sin alone would deserve a thousand hells. They suffer their pains so willingly that they would not lighten them in the least, knowing how justly they have been deserved. They resist the will of God no more than if they had already entered upon eternal life. […] They see all things, not in themselves nor by themselves, but as they are in God, on whom they are more intent than on their sufferings. For the least vision they can have of God overbalances all woes and all joys that can be conceived.
So often I have resisted suffering, prayed ceaselessly to , without in the least desiring that God's will be done. I did not fully realize that what God was offering me was a gift, the mitigation of a portion of my suffering after death. Instead of being intent on my sufferings, I need to see all things as they are in God, who only desires my ultimate good, which culminates in total union with him. He wants none of the delays my own sinfulness throws up as roadblocks to our union. In accepting the suffering that he wills for me, I am saying, "Lord, neither do I want to delay our eternal union. Do with me as you will."
A lifetime of penance seems a small thing to offer in light of St. Catherine's statement that one sin alone would deserve a thousand hells. It is God's mercy alone that makes our small efforts bear fruit so far out of proportion to the effort involved.
The key to a life of penance is to see things, as St. Catherine says, as they are in God. May the Lord grant us the grace, through our life of penance, to do the same. Have a blessed Easter.
Janet Klasson BSP
NO GREATER LOVE: by PAUL BEERY BSP
""Unless the grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone. But if it dies, it bears much fruit.""
The agony of defeat. Has anyone appeared as completely defeated as Jesus Christ appeared to most of His followers, as He hung upon the cross? All their hopes and dreams seemingly dashed. How many besides our Blessed Mother knew that was not to be the end? How many remembered that Jesus had spoken about His rising from the dead in those awful hours? That He first had to die an ignominious death as the price of our salvation. This was to be a new definition and dimension of the
Those in union with Jesus recall His Passion, death and resurrection, to participate intimately in His great act of salvation. St. Francis was given the stigmata, in order to feel in his own body the pain Jesus endured. Compared to that, we can offer up our little pains. Others have endured great mental anguish, such as Jesus felt during the Agony in the Garden. St. Margaret Mary recorded the message of the Sacred Heart: the intense suffering Jesus experienced from ingratitude, of apathy on the part of countless souls. Paul the Apostle tried everything to convince the learned and clever of his day, before finally realizing he must preach only "Christ, and Him Crucified." Those who have ears to hear will receive and respond to the message. Others will not, no matter how it's tailored.
"Consensus is the absence of leadership." Margaret Thatcher spoke these words in a political context, but the same lesson applies to our faith. So many believers are tempted to adopt the way of the world. The UN strives to unite all on the basis of consensus, and will hold unending talks until the participants are so sick of talking they will agree to anything. That's not the Way of Jesus. Proclaim the message firmly in
season and out of season. Declare the Hard Sayings whether they are accepted or not. Jesus watched some of His own disciples walk away from Him – without lifting a finger to run after them. Imagine the scene: "Will you also leave?" Peter answered for all faithful followers of the Master for all time: "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the Words of Eternal Life!"
And so we follow Jesus no matter what the cost. Sometimes that cost is very great. If we do not lose friends along the way, we are not following the Way. We are not speaking the Truth. We are not suffering the pain of separation even from our loved ones, a sacrifice demanded by loyalty to our Master, who hung in agony on the Cross while virtually all His followers abandoned Him. "Anyone who loves his father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. Anyone who does not take up his cross and follow Me is not worthy of Me."
Jesus suffered for the sins of mankind, as chronicled in Sacred Scripture from beginning to end. Sin is an offence against God: "Against You, You alone have I sinned, and done what is evil in Your Sight,"(Ps. 51) said David, one of the most beloved of God's chosen people. Our sins caused Jesus to suffer: they should cause us to suffer as well, and not only for our own. Pope Pius XII said the greatest problem of the times was the loss of the sense of sin. If we don't know WHO we offend, or even IF we offend, how can we possibly repent, much less beg forgiveness from the One we have offended? After all, salvation means being saved from the wrath of God. For some that's a rather quaint notion, for we live at a time when God's love and mercy are emphasized to such a degree as to almost exclude the other part of the equation. Many seem to think they will be saved no matter what they do. They contemplate such a notion at their own peril. Obviously we trust in God's mercy, but we don't tell Jesus we deserve His heaven. That would be somewhat imprudent.
"Let US make them in Our Image and Likeness." (Gen.) Perfect man, perfect woman, soon kicked out of paradise. Adam and Eve's sin of disobedience so angered God that every one of their descendents – indeed all creation must participate in their punishment. Those in union with Jesus suffer from today's sins of dissent and disobedience.
If Adam and Eve could fail their test in Paradise, imagine what fallen man would do when outside the gates! Wickedness soon became so widespread "The Lord grieved that He had made man on the earth, and HIS HEART WAS FILLED WITH PAIN." (Gen.6).
Time to start over. The Flood spared only Noah and his family. Noah so pleased the Lord that He made a covenant with him: "Never again will I destroy all living creatures." But it wasn't long before mankind once again brought on the wrath of God. "The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great and their sin so grievous…the Lord rained down burning sulfur" and destroyed the cities. Those in union with Jesus also hear the outcry against Sodom, and suffer from the grievous sin of homosexuality.
On a societal level do sins like this offend us as much as they offend God? Do we sit idly by as the world strives to replace God's standards with mans? Do we watch as alleged followers of Jesus strive to replace God's standards with their own? When Jesus found a den of thieves polluting His Temple He fashioned a whip and drove them out.
I thought of these things as I stood with fellow believers at the Capital in St. Paul, MN demanding that the people have a voice in protecting the Sacrament of marriage via a constitutional amendment. The people have not been allowed to vote because the bill is being bottled up in the Senate by a Lutheran minister, the leader of the Abortion/Gay Party – knowing he is governing AGAINST THE WILL OF THE PEOPLE, and likely his own conscience – in order to curry partisan political favor. The faithful have watched helplessly as the clerical gay sex abuse scandal has brought shame and disrepute to the priesthood and Holy Mother Church, and a lifetime of pain and alienation to innocent boys. Now for an encore we see those committed to the gay agenda eagerly attempting to destroy the very foundation of society: the family, by re-defining marriage. That will be the last step in corrupting the very concept of a family as given to us by God. How unbelievably pathetic.
All I could think of was the question Jesus asked Peter: "Simon, son of John, DO YOU LOVE ME?" (What a beautiful opportunity Jesus gives Peter to make up for his denial) Simon, how MUCH do you love Me? Feed My sheep. Paul, how much do YOU love Me? Will YOU become a fool for Me? Will you stand in the breech and say: ENOUGH IS ENOUGH! We Christians in this Christian nation will publicly honor God, and live by His standards in both the civil and religious spheres, because our Christian heritage is the very foundation for the Rule of Law that has made this country "One nation under God."
Our holy father Francis rebuilt the Church of his day, and his followers have done the same in each succeeding generation. Now it's our turn. Each day we in the BSP pray to:
"Strengthen and renew the One,
Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, that God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit may be glorified, praised and adored by all mankind." Nobody said it would be easy. A barometer of our success will be when we not only
die to our own sins, but actually feel in our bodies the sufferings Jesus endured for the sins of the world TODAY!
In union with Jesus we can die to our sins, and by a mystery known only to God, participate in His
Passion – in a manner given expression by Paul the Apostle in the first chapter of Colossians: "I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ on behalf of His Body, which is the Church."
FRANCISCAN SAINTS: St. Mariana of Jesus de Paredes (1618-1645)
Here is a quote from the Pronouncement of Pope Pius XII on the occasion of Mariana de Jesus'
Canonization Day, July 9, 1950:
"The story of Mariana de Jesus de Paredes is very brief. Sprung from a noble Spanish family, whose genealogical tree has roots both in Castile and in Andalusia, she was born in Quito, Ecuador, in 1618. From the first moment, she had in her soul all the sweetness of that climate, all the brightness of that sky, all the grace of its palm trees and its flowers. Her piety was amazing; her soul precociously mature; at the age of ten, she took the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. Clearly, the branch transplanted from the Iberian trunk was strong and the soil of the New World was generous. The example of the missionaries attracted her, enflamed her soul and filled her with the most lofty desires, which materialized in fervent prayers, extraordinary contemplation and other mystic abilities, together with such austerities that their mere enumeration would cause great amazement..."
Mariana was daughter of Don Girolamo Flores Zenel de Paredes and Doña Mariana Cranobles de Xaramilo. Dona Mariana was middle aged when she became pregnant with Mariana. Her pregnancy was quite troublesome and miscarriage was feared. However despite all of this Dona Mariana carried her to term, delivering a most beautiful and delicate baby girl.
Orphaned very young, Mariana was raised by her older sister and her husband. Almost from infancy she was devoted to prayer, practiced mortification, loved God and was devoted to the Blessed Virgin. Attracted to religious life at an early age, at ten she made vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience.
Her sister and brother in law, whom she lived with, asked Mariana if she would like to be a nun in a convent. She agreed that she would indeed like to join a convent as she had already consecrated herself to Our Lord in her heart. So it was decided that she would enter St. Catherine's Convent in Quito. Mariana presented herself to the convent and was accepted; her brother in law had only to sign the authorization papers. So a messenger was sent to his places of business and other locations where he was known to frequent on that given day. However he was not to be found anywhere. Later that day it was discovered that he had been at all of the places the messenger had looked but for some strange reason he was not found. Mariana took this as a sign from Divine Providence that she was not to go to this convent so she never entered St Catherine's convent.
Her brother in law proposed another convent to her. The convent of St Clare looked like a wonderful place for Mariana. So once again she agreed "if it was God's will". This time her brother in law was much more careful about signing the necessary paperwork and preparing her dowry. A party was planned. Many guests were invited….a great commotion and to-do was made of this occasion. Everyone was so excited about her entrance into the convent-that is everyone, except for Mariana. Due to her disinterest, she decided it was, once again, God's way of letting her know that convent life was not for her.
At this point, it is said she had recourse to her confessor, Father Monosalvas. This good priest went to her brother in law and sister, and told them that Mariana should be allowed to live as a religious in seclusion in their house. Inspired by God through this saintly priest, they resigned themselves to keep Mariana in their home.
And so it was at the age of twelve her vocation was decided. She gave to the poor her dowry, received the habit of the Third Order from the Franciscans and vowed herself to lead a life hidden in God and devoted to prayer and penance. Her confessor regulated her days with 5 hours of prayer and spiritual reading, 4 hours for weaving and sewing to make money and 4 hours of sleeping time. Besides that, Mariana spent her time in works of mercy. She could read and write and play a musical instrument or two, and, despite her somewhat limited education, she managed to found the first organized Catholic Action, the first free clinic in Quito and a kindergarten for the Indian children. She feed, clothed and bathed them. She took care of them with medicines. Under her supervision the little Indians learned to read, to write, to sing, to play the flute and pray.
An occasion soon offered for an heroic act of charity. A pestilence ravaged Quito in 1645. There were also earthquakes killing more than 2000 persons and destroying many churches. Then there were epidemics of measles and diphtheria which eradicated over 12,000 inhabitants. Finally, the volcano of Pichincha erupted after being dormant for over 80 years, terrorizing the city. On March 26, 1645, the fourth Sunday in Lent, Mariana's confessor, Father Alonso de Rojas, preached a sermon from the pulpit of St Mariana's parish church and called the people to repent from their sins and do penance. He offered himself to God as a victim. Mariana was present in the church for this sermon. She rose from her seat and offered herself a sacrifice for the people She proclaimed that she would take the place of Fr Rojas as victim for Fr Rojas was greatly needed in Quito because he was an excellent priest. She asked Our Lord to accept her offering "in defense of her country, her compatriots and her kindred."
After Mass, she left silently and went straight home. God had accepted her sacrifice for she was immediately struck with a mortal illness. From that moment on, Quito was freed from disaster.
From the moment she had made that public announcement of her self-immolation the word was passed quickly through the city. Many prayers and novenas were offered for her but to no avail.
She suffered in her last illness for 2 months. On May 26, 1645, Ascension Thursday, she passed into Heaven. She was only 26 years old.
Her body was clothed in a Franciscan habit and laid out in the church, and the people of the city flocked around it, to touch their beads and reliquaries, and implore her prayers.
After the death of Mariana, a beautiful lily sprouted forth on her grave, and so she has been called the Lily of Quito. But in far greater measure did she deserve the name because of the innocence of her life. She preserved her soul pure and holy in the midst of a wicked world, carefully protecting it from sin by the practice of penance and prayer according to the Franciscan Rule of 1221. She had really been "in the world but not of it, for Christ."
More words from the Pronouncement of Pope Pius XII:
"She did not live in a cloister, because Providence wanted her to be out in the world; but she aspired to the same perfection as the most observant religious. She was not a great historic figure, but today she is the pride of a great nation which acclaims her as its national heroine.
In this Saint, may all men learn the immense power of Christian virtue, capable of bringing a spirit to maturity with more vigor than the sun of Quito, ripening the rich fruits of Ecuador. May the world learn of the energies hidden in prayer and sacrifice. May the epicureans of all time learn that the goal of the spirit is found at the end of the hidden road on which love seeks sorrow in order to overcome material bonds. May the worldly youth of today learn of that in their own circumstances which can make a soul enamored of the Lord. And may all those who live today in the full light of devotion to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus admire the perfection of this innocent victim who, in the dawn of the 17th Century, already knew how to make reparation the center of her spirituality."
Submitted by Anna Ferroni—Turin, Italy
Members of Morning Star and Our Lady of Sorrows Chapters meet at Epiphany Church in Coon Rapids, MN.
Left to right: Dolores Bichsel, Dorothy Winczewski, Rebecca Maness, Rebecca Campbell, Shelley, Mary Girling, Bruce, Donna Beery, and Paul Beery.
The two Chapters met recently to discuss and plan our Retreat 2006.
SONG OF THE SPARROW:
The very first line in the Gospel of Matthew states: "The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David…" The relation of Jesus to David is placed foremost to emphasize that Jesus is the royal Messiah and the climax of Israel's history, and the events of his conception and birth are the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy of the promises made to this same David. His prophetic birth in Bethlehem strengthens his ties to David. It is clear that in no way is Jesus trying to distance himself from the title "Son of David" when it is addressed to Him by various people throughout the Gospels. In the first Gospel we read where two blind men called out to him, "Son of David, have pity on us." (Matt. 9:27)
At first glance it seems that Jesus has linked himself to an Old Testament person known for one of the greatest scandals in the history of Scripture. That being David's great sins of adultery and murder that is described in 2 Samuel 11 et. Seq. To clarify this matter we ask ourselves logically: "Who is David?"
In 1 Samuel 14 Saul is told by Samuel: "The Lord has sought out a man after his own heart and has appointed him commander of the people…". That man was David.
Further, at 1 Samuel 16, Samuel is sent to Bethlehem to the house of Jesse where he will anoint David: "Then Samuel, with the horn of oil in hand, anointed him in the midst of his brothers; and from that day on, the spirit of the Lord rushed upon David.
Then in 1 Samuel 17:41 comes David's victory over Goliath which is followed Chapter after Chapter making David a central figure in the Old Testament. All of this culminates in a covenant promise to David in 2 Samuel 7:16 "You house shall endure forever".
It is such a sad thing to hear David say, when confronted by Nathan in 2 Samuel 12:13 about his adultery with Bathsheba and killing of Uriah the Hittite, her husband, say: "I have sinned against the Lord." Nathan answered David: "the Lord on his part has forgiven your sin: you shall not die." David did not rationalize, mitigate, justify or water down his sins. He repented, prayed, and did penance. His confession is what made David a "man after God's own heart."
With St. Francis, as with David, interior repentance was a radical reorientation of the whole life; a return, a conversion, to God with the whole heart. It was an end to sin and a turning away from evil. With these two holy men it entailed the desire and resolution to change their lives with hope in God's mercy and trust in the help of His grace.
The heart is where we, as Franciscans, live a Gospel lifestyle. According to Biblical expression the heart is the place "to which I withdraw." The heart is our only hidden center, beyond the grasp of our reason and of others…
When we listen to and put into practice the Gospel teachings of the Son and of His Church, when we follow the rule of St. Francis, and when we make good and sincere confessions, we too become people after God's own heart. There is no greater blessing than this.
Robert Michael Francis Hall BSP
There's something only you can give
by Kelly Neff
There's something only you can give
And that's faith and trust and peace while we're alive
I wish everyone was loved tonight
And somehow stop this fight
Just a chance that maybe we'll find better days
So take these words
And sing out loud
'Cause everyone is forgiven now
'Cause tonight's the night the world begins again.
Kelly Neff BSP
Dreams and Directions
By Kelly Joyce Neff
Last week I had a very interesting series of dreams, which answered a question for me concerning which way to go in my life as a lay Franciscan. You see, I have long been associated with the SFO in San Francisco, but have never made a final profession due to some personal questions. And then I was led to the BSP. As one cannot be a member of both, according to the SFO, my intention was to become an honourary member in the BSP, figuring that the four years of formation is long enough for me to make up my mind! But God had other plans. ‘Why do you think I led you here?'
So to the dreams: for four nights running I was wakened four or fives times in the night by a dream in which St. Clare, to whom I am devoted, was speaking to one of her sisters, whom I couldn't see clearly, about Blessed Father Francis (who kept appearing in the scene every time she spoke his name, like an apparition or the hologram of Leia Organa) and enjoining her to ‘remember the _SP'. Every single time I would wake up right then with the numbers reverberating in my mind, scrambled about like an anagram. I am sure you all can guess what the other letter was!
Well, finally, on the Friday, I got it and felt very silly indeed for not getting it before. But very happy to realize it was an answer to ‘which way do I go?' For I have always wanted to do and be more than what was asked of me in the SFO and wished for a way that was nearer Francis' rule – not unlike Mother Clare holding out for her own Rule before all others which were abstractions of the Franciscan vision – kindly meant, but not what she or Francis wanted. It made me so very happy. And I thought to myself, ‘well, if I have this right, then the dreams will stop.' And lo, the dreams stopped. I have not had one since. So with a grateful heart I give thanks to God for the leading – and that I was awake enough to follow, even if I didn't ‘get it' right away. As for that, there's always the example of St. Francis – ‘Francis, rebuild my Church!' God is so marvellously patient with us literal folks.
Bless you all,
How's it feel to have a near-death experience
by Winnie Ferguson BSP (Published recently in a Rochester, MN. Magazine.)
I was driving and my husband was in the passenger seat. I had my foot on the brake and was about to make a turn into a gas station when our car was hit from the rear by another driver. We didn't have our seatbelts on. After the first impact, another car hit us from the front. Our car was destroyed.
I flew through the air and landed on top of my husband's back. I saw this bright light and I could feel God's arms around me, lifting me up. There was the most beautiful music, like Gregorian chanting. It's hard to explain in words, but I actually saw my soul. It had form, but it had no features. It was kind of like a cloud and I rose up into this beautiful light. And that's when I felt these arms go around me.
I can't begin to describe the awesome feeling I felt. Then Christ spoke to me. It wasn't like a regular conversation like we're having now. It was more like an exchange of information. But there was definitely a male, masculine voice. He said, ‘It's not your time.' He said I was to go back and tell his people how much he loved them.
I argued with him. I said he could have chosen someone a whole lot smarter. He said I should trust in him and he would show me the way. He told me I would recognize my calling.
I wanted to go with him; I wanted to see beyond the light, but he wouldn't let me. I didn't see heaven or hell. I didn't see anything. I just felt so loved.
The next thing I remember is a woman dressed in black, saying, ‘We have a pulse.' I took my husband's hand and we said the Lord's Prayer together, but he doesn't remember that. The whole thing was a total blackout for him.
We were taken by ambulance to the hospital. He had a cracked vertebrae and I had a concussion. They released us a few hours later.
I had a hard time for a while after that. I wasn't sure what I'd experienced was real. I was afraid to talk about it. I went through therapy. I came to the conclusion that it was real, that I had felt God's presence for a reason.
I left my job as a nursing assistant and went to work for the church as a sacristan. I became a lay Franciscan and later joined the Brothers and Sisters of Penance at the chapel of Archbishop Harry Flynn in St. Paul. We fast and pray and lead simple lives. I believe that prayer knocks on the heart of Christ and the door opens.
I haven't physically felt God's presence since the accident. But once, after Communion, I was talking to a little baby, and as I was tickling this baby I was thinking, ‘How can I help this child make its way in the world?' And I felt this voice in my heart telling me that my prayers would be sufficient.
I don't know what God has in store for me. But when my time comes to join him I will take a deep breath because I won't want to leave my family. But then I'll be at peace because I know God will be on the other side waiting for me.
Sometimes now, when I go to a funeral, I feel a little jealous. I remember that beautiful music and I think about what a wonderful place the departed are headed for. Death is nothing to be afraid of. You just rise into love.
Winnie Ferguson BSP
THE ADMONITIONS OF ST. FRANCIS:
XXIV. True humility
Bless that person who is just as unassuming among his subjects as he would be among his superiors. Blessed the religious who is always willing to be corrected. A man is a "faithful and prudent servant" (Mt. 24:25) when he is quick to atone for all his offenses, interiorly by contrition, exteriorly by confessing them and making reparation.
The Crucifixion of Jesus
painted around 1400
Author unknown, called "The Master of the Codex of Saint George"
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!
"Do not be amazed! You seek Jesus of Nazareth, the crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Behold the place where they laid him. "