ST. FRANCIS IN ARABIA:
St. Francis and the Sultan
a beautiful story of his sanctity...
... Now when he arrived in a certain country of the Saracens where such cruel men guarded the roads that no Christian passing through there could escape being killed, by the grace of God they were not killed, but were taken prisoners, beaten in various ways, and very roughly bound and then led before the Sultan.
In his presence St. Francis preached under the guidance of the Holy Spirit in such a divine way about the holy Catholic faith that he offered to enter the fire for it. As a result, the Sultan began to feel great devotion for him, both because of the unshakeable conviction of his faith and because of his contempt for the world-for though he was utterly poor he would not accept any gifts-and also because of his fervent longing for martyrdom.
And thereafter the Sultan willingly listened to him and asked him to come back to see him many times. Moreover, he generously granted permission to him and to his companions to go anywhere and freely preach wherever they wished in all his empire. And he gave them a certain little token so that no one who saw it should harm them.
After receiving that generous permission, St. Francis sent those chosen companions of his, two by two, into various lands of the Saracens to preach the faith of Christ. And with one companion he chose a certain district, and he went into an inn where he had to rest overnight. And there he found a certain woman who was very beautiful in face and body but very foul in mind and soul. That cursed woman solicited St. Francis to commit a most shameful act with her.
St. Francis answered: "If you wish me to do what you want, you must also do what I want."
"I agree," she said. "So let's go and prepare a bed." And she led him toward a room.
But St. Francis said to her: "Come with me, and I will show you a very beautiful bed."
And he led her to a very large fire that was burning in that house at that time. And in fervor of spirit he stripped himself naked and threw himself down on the fire in the fireplace as on a bed. And he called to her, saying: "Undress and come quickly and enjoy this splendid, flowery, and wonderful bed, because you must be here if you wish to obey me."
St Francis walking on the fire before the Sultan
And he remained there for a long time with joyful face, resting on the fireplace as though on flowers, but the fire did not burn or singe him.
On seeing such a miracle that woman was terrified and felt remorse in her heart. And she not only repented of her sin and evil intention but also perfectly converted to the faith of Christ, and through the merits of the holy Father she became so holy in grace that she won many souls for the Lord in that region.
At last, seeing that he was unable to gather the fruit which he desired in that country, St. Francis, as a result of a revelation from God, prepared to return to the lands of the faithful with all his companions, and he assembled them together again. Then he went back to the Sultan and told him that he planned to leave.
The Sultan said to him: "Brother Francis, I would willingly be converted to the faith of Christ, but I am afraid to do it now, because these Saracens, if they heard about it, would immediately kill me and you, with all of your companions. And since you can still do a great deal of good, and I have to do many important things for the salvation of my soul, I do not want to bring about your premature death and mine. But show me how I can achieve salvation, and I am ready to obey you in everything."
Then St. Francis said to him: "My lord, I am leaving you now, but after I have returned to my country and to the call of God, gone to Heaven, after my death, through Divine Providence, I will send you two of my friars from whom you will receive the baptism of Christ, and you will be saved… (And this he did.)
VISITOR'S MESSAGE: Fr. Robert Altier:
August 31, 2003 Twenty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time
Reading I (Deuteronomy 4:1-2, 6-8)
Reading II (James 1:17-18, 21b-22, 27)
Gospel (St. Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23)
In the first reading today from the Book of Deuteronomy, Moses speaks to the people telling them that they are to observe carefully all of the statutes and all of the commandments which he presents before them. For the Jewish people, that meant 613 specific laws that they had to follow. Now it did not start that way. For the people of Israel, it started with a great freedom to be able to serve the Lord in love. Then they sinned, and with each time that the people sinned there were more laws that were placed upon them. It began with the Ten Commandments and wound up with 613. But even with that, Moses was able to say to the people, There is no other nation that has a god so close to it as the Lord, our God, is to us whenever we call upon Him; and there is no law in any other nation which is so just, so wise, as the law that I am placing before you today.
The law was perfect in the sense that it was an expression of the Will of God for His people. Those laws, like rules in our homes, are set up to keep the proper boundaries so that the children know what they are to do and what they are not to do. They know when they cross the boundaries and they know they are in trouble. Now the difficulty with the law, as Saint Paul makes very clear, is that no one will be saved by the observance of the law because no one can observe it perfectly. Well, two people did: Our Lady and Our Lord; but otherwise there would be no one who would be saved by obedience to the law. Imagine having to stand before the Lord and being able to say, "Throughout my entire life, I never once violated any one of Your 613 precepts." There is not one of us who can stand before the Lord and say, "I've never even violated one of the ten original precepts," let alone the 603 that followed after that.
The problem, when we look at the second reading from the Letter of Saint James, is he tells us that in God there is no alteration and no change. And there is not. God cannot change. God is perfect and if He could change that would imply that He is imperfect, that there is something outside of Him that can cause Him to change. If He can change He is just like us, maybe a little bit more intelligent, but just like us nonetheless. If God is just like us then there is no sense worshiping Him; you may as well worship yourself, which is the American way anyhow. So it is fitting that we understand exactly what this means. If God cannot change and there can be no alteration in God, how is it that there can be these 613 precepts which are laid before the people and Moses tells them that if they follow these they will give evidence of their wisdom and intelligence before the nations, and that everyone else will be able to say, "Look at the intelligence of these people"? Unfortunately, they left us a legacy to be able to demonstrate that they were not so intelligent about following the law of God. All one needs to do is read the Old Testament and see that they did not do what Moses told them to do.
But now there has been a change – we no longer need to follow the 613 precepts of the law. We have the Ten Commandments that we must follow, as those are divine law, but most of the other ones with regard to ritual purity and the various ritual laws have all gone to the side. All of the moral laws remain, but all of the ritual laws have been done away with. Now if God does not change and there is no alteration of any kind in God, how is it possible that the law can change? It is not that God has changed; it is that the way we relate to God has changed, and that is because His Son came down to us and He gave us a new commandment. That commandment is to love.
As I mentioned, Saint Paul tells us that no one will be saved by the observance of the law. But Saint James in the second reading tells us that the Word, which is already in your heart, can save you. And so we see where the difference lies. The law would not be able to save us, but the Word of God, Who is Jesus Christ, Who is within our hearts if we are in the state of grace, does have the power to save us. And the Word of God is nothing other than love. God is love. Jesus Christ is God, therefore, Jesus Christ is love. And that Love of God has been poured forth into your hearts so that you can cry out in the Holy Spirit, Abba! Father! There is a different kind of relationship that has been established. Not that there is any change in God at all, but the change has taken place within us in our relationship to God. It is no longer that we are merely His people in an objective sense at an arm's distance saying that you have to follow these laws, but rather we are His children now. We have been incorporated into Jesus Christ; we are members of the Word of God. So there is no change on God's part but on ours. Therefore, the way we relate to God is no longer objective but subjective. It is no longer a matter of following an external set of laws, but it is now to follow the law of the heart, that is, the law of love.
Saint Augustine, in the fourth century, said, Love, and do what you will. Now your typical American teenager would think that says, "I can do anything that I want. He said to do whatever I want." He said, "Love, and do what you will." As Saint Paul makes very clear, love never wrongs the neighbor; love always seeks the good of the other. Love is self-sacrificing. That is why Saint Augustine can say, Love, and do what you will, because if you truly love you will not do anything wrong; you will not offend God and you will not do anything that would offend your neighbor. And that is the Word that has been planted in your heart that can save you. It is no longer a matter of trying to live the law perfectly, which no one is able to do; but it is now for us a matter of learning how to love perfectly, which every last one of us is able to do.
Tragically, even among Christian people, most do not do that because most of us, like the people of Israel, do not want to hear the Word of God and put it into practice. We like to hear the Word of God, but acting on it is a problem for us. This is exactly what Saint James addresses in the second reading. He says in a rather funny translation, Be doers of the word, not merely hearers of the word. In other words, if the Word of God is Jesus Christ and He has been poured forth into your hearts, you must live the life of Jesus Christ. It is one thing to hear over and over again every week that we are baptized into Jesus Christ, that the grace of God is in our hearts, that we are members of Christ, and so on, and then we can go home and continue to live like the pagans around us. What good is that going to do? In fact, all that is going to do is earn for us a deeper place in hell because we knew better. We heard it, we knew what the truth was, and we rejected it. God is calling each and every one of us to an intimate relationship with Himself, and He is calling us to love.
We can look at what Our Lord said in the Gospel because the Word of God has been poured forth into our hearts, and that Word of God is the Word of Love; it is the very Person of Jesus Christ. And so the Lord tells us in the Gospel, It is not what goes into a man that makes him defiled but what comes out. It is a question of what is in the heart. Oftentimes, all we need to do if you want to know what is in the heart is listen to the words that come out of your mouth. Look at the actions that you perform throughout the day. Those are the things that will defile us if they are bad, if they are not done in love. Look at the list that Our Lord talks about: greed, envy, lust, licentiousness, drunkenness, and all these different things. He tells us, These are the things that come out of the human heart. These are the things that defile us.
When we read about Our Lord or Our Lady or any one of the saints, what we will find are people from whose hearts flowed love. It was not any hatred. It was not any selfishness. It was not anything but love. Now the nice thing for us is that the Church has thousands of saints who are just like us. Our Lord and Our Lady were perfect, and they always were from the very first instant. But the rest of the saints were not. All the rest of the saints are just like us: sinners. We have a handful of exceedingly extraordinary saints who never once committed a mortal sin in their entire life, but that is a small handful. The rest of the thousands of saints are just like us: rather extraordinary sinners instead of rather extraordinary saints, initially. But they turned that around. They looked at those things that were in their hearts that made them defiled and they got rid of them. They replaced that which was not of God with that which is of God – with the very Word of God Himself – so that the words they spoke were Jesus Christ, the actions they performed were Jesus Christ, the life they lived was Jesus Christ.
Sometimes we can look at that and think, "But then I'm not going to be myself." Quite the contrary. God will never ever violate you – ever – in any way, shape, or form, because He loves you and love never does anything wrong. God is not going to violate you in any way. Therefore, if you are willing to put on the Lord Jesus Christ, you will become the person God created you to be. You will find fulfillment. You will find joy. You will find a happiness that you have never known in your life. It will be exactly what Our Lord told us, that He tells us these things so your joy may be complete. Not the fleeting little joys of the world, not even the glimpses of the joy that we have from some profound moment in prayer that then goes away because we have not achieved that depth of love yet, but a joy that is complete because we are in union with Jesus Christ, we are in union with Love.
That is the law of God which will never change. The 613 precepts of the old law were expressions of God's love for His people to be able to say, "If you follow these laws you will not hurt yourself and you will not violate one another." He had to do that because the people refused to accept His love. They did not understand Who He was. But we now have that understanding. It is not apart from us. It is no longer anything that is objective, but rather it is in your hearts. None of us will be able to stand before God and say, "But I didn't know." All we have to do is go right into the heart and we will find the Holy Trinity dwelling there if we are in the state of grace. We all know that. If we stand before God and have to tell Him, "I lived my entire life and never sought You in my heart," that will be a sad day because He will tell us that He was there for us every moment of every day, and we sought Him elsewhere – or did not seek Him at all.
The law of the Lord is perfect, and the law of the Lord is love. The law of the Lord is expressed by Saint Augustine in the most beautiful way: Love, and do what you will. That is all – just simply love. And that will never change. Saint Paul in his First Letter to the Corinthians tells us that ultimately the greatest of all the gifts are faith, hope, and love; and it is love alone that will never end because for all eternity in Heaven that is all we will do. Remember that the level of your love, and therefore the level of your place in Heaven, depends on how much you love in this life. The amount of love you have when you die is the amount of love you will have for all eternity. So do not try to love God as little as possible. Do not try to figure out how much you can get away with and still get into Heaven. Do not try to figure out, "If I just can squeeze that last spot in Heaven, I can live it up in this life and, boy, I can still barely get in but I can do it." It is the wrong attitude. Why would you want to love God as little as you possibly can for the rest of eternity? It does not make sense. That is a selfish attitude, not a disposition of love. God is calling us to love, not a little, but perfectly; and He is calling us to Himself. Therefore, we need to make up our minds to reject sin, to reject Satan and all his works and empty promises, and to seek to truly love God and love neighbor, the commandment of Christ. Love, and do what you will.
by Bruce and Shelley Fahey BSP
From the Office of Readings…
From the Confessions of Saint Augustine, bishop…
"Urged to reflect upon myself, I entered under your guidance into the inmost depth of my soul. I was able to do so because you were my helper. On entering into myself I saw, as it were with the eye of the soul, what was beyond the eye of the soul, beyond my spirit: your immutable light. It was not the ordinary light perceptible to all flesh, nor was it merely something of greater magnitude but still essentially akin, shining more clearly and diffusing itself everywhere by its intensity. No, it was something entirely distinct, something altogether different from all these things; and it did not rest above my mind as oil on the surface of water, nor was it above me as heave is above the earth. This light was above me because it had made me; I was below it because I was created by it. He who has come to know the truth knows this light…
Reading from the feast of St. Augustine, August 28… We thought we would share this beautiful Office of Readings this month.
Late have I loved you, O Beauty ever ancient, ever new, late have I loved you. You were within me, but I was outside, and it was there that I searched for you. In my unloveliness I plunged into the lovely things which you created. You were with me, but I was not with you. Created things kept me from you; yet if they had not been in you they would not have been at all. You called, you shouted, and you broke through my deafness. You flashed, you shone, and you dispelled my blindness. You breathed your fragrance on me; I drew in breath and now I pant for you. I have tasted you, now I hunger and thirst for more. You touched me, and I burned for you peace."
The Association is doing fine. We have only really begun, and we grow each month in the richness and fullness of the life of penance together. What is important is that we all take the time to reflect and live the key elements of the Rule in our daily life.
Let us always pray for unity in the Church and that we can personally and collectively fulfill the will of God in our Association. Toward this end make it a habit to read the Rule and Statutes at least once each month while at prayer. Learn the Rule and love it. Don't become scrupulous about details, but live the Rule in a full and rich way as you perceive it and as it fits your life. If you have questions get them answered from us or from your spiritual director. We all live the Rule differently, and we must, to live it in our lives for our lives are all different. This is part of the beauty of the Rule. It is now as it was in the time of St. Francis something we each do in our own way in our own lives where we live. This is the key thing to remember about the Rule when it seems you might be all alone our there as most of us are. Even here, in St. Paul where the BSP began almost 20 years ago, only 3% of the membership abide in this diocese.
We ponder all the time how to improve the Association for all of our members and friends. 97% of our membership is at large and almost never in groups of any kinds. When these groups start to form Chapters can form, and Chapters will add greatly to the community life of the Association. If you find another person in your area who is willing to join with you to share the life of penance rejoice and form a Chapter. It is easy. Contact us for details on how to do it and what to do. If you have ideas on how to do this, or wish to try something new to enhance our collective life please contact us and let us know. We are very open to change. Let us always turn to the Holy Spirit for guidance and direction. Let us always abide in the spirit of love and charity of the Gospels. Many there are who say they do but do not.
We should pass on to our members and friends that we have been contacted locally by the Secular Franciscan Order locally to participate with them in a Mass to be celebrated with Archbishop Flynn next year. They are contacting all of the secular families in the diocese here. It is a wonderful sign of the developing mission and unity within the BSP in the spirit of St. Francis which in a very simple way is being recognized in this contact by our Franciscan brothers and sisters. Let us pray for unity in the spirit of St. Francis and the Gospels.
God bless you always, and all ways! God is good, all the time!
Bruce and Shelley Fahey BSP
From the Second Reading for the 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time
by Janet Klasson BSP
"Be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another (in) psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and playing to the Lord in your hearts, giving thanks always and for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God the Father."
I don't understand my husband's filing system. All I wanted was a nail. A big nail so I could hang up the broom I had just bought for the basement. If you don't hang a broom, the bristles go all funny. So I wanted a nail to hang it from. No problem. My husband has nails. Lots of them. As well as screws of all descriptions and functions and the various apparatus necessary to attach them where they can best serve their purpose in life. I thought it would be a simple thing to find just the nail I needed for my broom. I thought wrong.
I am a librarian. I know about filing and organizing and finding things in the library. But it soon became apparent that my skills were not transferable to the man-zone I was now in—I could not find a nail in the whole workshop. Screws by the score, but the nails? They must have heard me coming.
After a fruitless search, I tried phoning my husband but for some mysterious reason he was unavailable. I gave up. Nothing to do but wait until he got home. I proceeded onto other chores. A while later as I was dusting, I picked up one of those catch-all ceramic dealies that (I'm assuming) we all have in various strategic corners of the house. Lo! and behold! What did I see in the bottom of the ceramic dealie but a large nail—exactly the kind I had been hunting for to hang my broom!
Now, there are times when God has done something for you and it seems that he wants you to know it. This was one of those times. This insignificant nail for my broom moved me to tears. He knew it was important to me, and he found one for me, first hiding it and then leading me to it.
But that was not all. As I thanked God from the bottom of my heart for the gift of a nail for my broom, I felt reassured, as if he wanted to tell me that none of my needs and prayers—even the unspoken ones—went unnoticed by him. Immediately I thought of the countless prayers I have raised for those whose hearts seem to be far from the Lord, of the many times I invoked the prayer of Divine Mercy over souls.
Waves of gratitude filled my heart, and surging confidence in the Divine Mercy. The words, "Jesus I trust in you," suddenly held new promise.
I think it is safe to say that all who come to the BSP have a love for poor sinners and for souls that are far from God. We feel called by Jesus and Mary to fast and pray for souls. In dying to self we are strengthened in our prayers, most especially for souls. For God desires souls more than anything. We feel gratitude at being allowed to give what little we can to assist God in the harvest of souls. Most times we do these things without any indication that it is working. We soldier on in faith and trust because of what we have learned from Jesus, Mary, and St. Francis of Assisi.
But sometimes God gives us some encouragement that what we are doing is indeed bearing fruit. Now, whenever I feel despair for a soul, I will think of the nail for my broom, and I will offer prayers of complete trust in the God of Divine Mercy, singing to the Lord in my heart, and giving thanks in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God the Father.
Janet Klasson BSP
NO GREATER LOVE: by PAUL BEERY BSP
"To you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven,
but to them it is not given. Blessed are your eyes because they see, and
your ears because they hear. For I tell you truly, many prophets and
righteous men longed to see what you see, but did not see it, and to hear
what you hear, but did not hear it." (I John 4:16)
"She has chosen the One Thing Necessary, and it will not be taken
from her." (Luke 10:38-42)
"We exist for the praise of His Glory." (Eph. 1.14)"
How can we keep this reality ever before us? It's easy if with
Jesus we go on retreat or off to a mountain to pray to our heavenly
Father, removing ourselves from everyday temptations and distractions
that keep us from being aware of, and living in the presence of God. In
that state we are fully conscious of the reason for our existence, and
with Paul the Apostle, we are constrained to pray constantly in union
with the Trinity, being in truth the temples of the Holy Spirit. It's
easy to praise His Glory.
But what do we do when we return home? I'm especially aware of this
problem after returning from a vacation spent visiting family and
friends, where we experienced the myriad ways worldly distractions
prevent union of the creature with the Creator. When surrounded by the
incredible pressure and immediacy of the secular, the sacred can seem
distant, less important, and even undesirable. There is too much of too
little value for our senses to absorb. Vacation is a yearly lesson for
us in how different our lifestyle is.
Mankind has gone from an era where knowledge was limited to the few,
to a time of an information explosion of unprecedented proportions
available to nearly everyone. How we handle this avalanche will pretty
much explain the state of our spiritual life. Perhaps there are some
intellectuals who have the capacity to absorb voluminous amounts of
useless information without taking their eye off the prize, but lesser
mortals usually fail miserably. There is only so much a person can
handle at any given moment. Not all of us are given to
"compartmentalizing." The phrase: "One thing necessary," does not mean
many, or some, but only "One thing." And that One Thing needs to be
pursued with great diligence, often to the complete neglect of the
"Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am meek and humble
of Heart, and you will find rest for your souls." It's not like we were
alone on this journey. We are yoked WITH JESUS, who is pulling right
along with us every step of the Way, if not actually carrying us. We
just need to be determined to accept His invitation, take upon ourselves
His yoke, sit at His feet and listen and learn from Him. That will not
happen when we deliberately clutter our lives with needless and endless
distractions. The duties of our state in life are one thing; six hours a
day of the secular boob tube is quite another.
We need to create an atmosphere in which Jesus is welcome and
palpably present. One of the wonderful Catholic Churches we visited near
Chicago had such a heavenly atmosphere. It was, of course, an older
church, where angels were looking down on us, reminding us of the
mysteries of the kingdom being revealed before our eyes. There were many
beautiful statues, stained glass windows, lighted candles, a beautiful
altar, an overwhelming presence of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. One
was automatically drawn to prayer. There we knew the reason for our
existence: the praise of His Glory.
How can we recreate that presence which leads to prayer in our
homes? Without any prompting, my wife Donna has made every room into a
potential prayer room, with numerous reminders of the holy. Our
"domestic church" can easily be made to look like a "real" Catholic
Church, and that presents us with wonderful reminders.
But the most important thing of all is strict regulation of the
instrument by which the world and the worldly enters into the heart of
our homes, ourselves and our children: the television. What good does it
do to move immediately from the presence of God to the presence of evil,
deliberately placing ourselves in a state of temptation? Superman and
Wonder Woman are fictional characters. We are weak and wounded by
Original Sin. I don't think any other instrument has been so
destructive to the morals of the past several generations. Even if we
avoid the most sensuous programming, there are myriad other dangers
lurking. Watching the secular version of the world news is guaranteed to
produce depression. Who needs that? Anyone who lives in a world without
God and has not the slightest clue as to the reason for their existence
is not someone I trust to tell me what's happening in God's world. There
are millions of good people who are influenced by this God-less worldview
and version of events and have become almost completely Secularized –
judging their faith by secular standards instead of the other way around.
To watch such a perversion of the truth makes me physically ill. And
for good reason.
It used to be said: "Tell me what you read, and I'll tell you what
you are." Now, it's "Tell me what you watch…" Those who are well
disciplined can regulate such matters. But most of us need help. There
is an exceptional source of knowledge and grace guaranteed to promote
one's spiritual life: Mother Angelica's Eternal Word Television Network
and related resources including the EWTN website, world-wide radio
network, and local radio and television stations that carry various EWTN
programs. We are fortunate in the Twin Cities to have a local group of
volunteers who operate a television station on the UHF band that receives
EWTN programming for free. Their only cost is renting a space on the
tallest building for their antenna, so a million people in this area
don't need cable or a dish to get EWTN. This fact enabled us to make a
very important decision in our lives about five years ago: get rid of
It was also a difficult decision, because there are many good things
on cable: the History channel, Discovery, C-Span, and so on. There are
good things in life, and there are better things. Ultimately, if we
truly seek holiness, we must strive for the BEST! A priest once told me
that we should imitate the honeybee, which seeks only nectar from the
best flowers. In this age of information explosion, we need to be
extremely selective in our choices. Time should be used for the honor
and glory of God. Of course we all need time for recreation and
relaxation, but needlessly wasting time is like squandering a precious
gift of God. Now almost all we watch is God's station. And we've made
the prayer from the Missionaries of Charity our own: "Radiating Christ."
Dear Jesus, help us to spread your fragrance wherever we go. Flood
our souls with your spirit and life. Penetrate and possess our whole
being, so utterly, that our lives may only be a radiance of yours. Shine
through us, and be so in us, that every soul we come in contact with may
feel your presence in our soul. Let them look up and see no longer us
but only Jesus! Stay with us, and then we shall begin to shine as you
shine; so to shine as to be a light to others; the light O Jesus, will be
all from you, none of it will be ours; it will be you, shining on others
through us. Let us thus praise you in the way you love best by shining
on those around us. Let us preach you without preaching, not by words
but by our example. By the catching force, the sympathetic influence of
what we do, the evident fullness of the love our heart bears to you.
"THE HUMAN PERSON: HEART OF PEACE"
VATICAN, July 13, 2006 (LifeSiteNews.com) - The Vatican made public today the theme for the January 1, 2007 celebration of the 40th World Day of Peace. The theme: "The Human Person: Heart of Peace" was chosen by Pope Benedict XVI. According to a Vatican communiqué, the theme "expresses the conviction that respect for the dignity of the human person is an essential condition for peace within the human family."
How true! The world is at war with itself because the Peace of Christ is missing from the hearts of most people. When we have Christ, we are at peace, then we can share that peace with others by love and forgiveness. As the Lord said "Love God and your neighbor as yourself." And if we say we love God but hate our neighbor we are liars . . . as the Scriptures say . . .
The communiqué reads: "Propaganda and the growing acceptance of disordered lifestyles contrary to human dignity are weakening the hearts and minds of people to the point of extinguishing the desire for ordered and peaceful coexistence. All this represents a threat to humanity, because peace is in danger when human dignity is not respected and when social coexistence does nor seek the common good."
"Today, perhaps more persuasively and with more effective means than in the past, human dignity is threatened by aberrant ideologies, assailed by the misguided use of science and technology, and contradicted by widespread incongruent lifestyles. Indeed, ideologies that find their inspiration in nihilism or fanaticism (material or religious) seek to deny or to impose supposed truths upon reality, upon man and upon God," said the communiqué.
"The Church," the communique adds, "has the mission of announcing the Gospel of Life, the central position of mankind in the universe and God's love for humanity.
"Only through an awareness of the transcendent dignity of each man and woman can the human family follow the path that leads to peace and to communion with God," said the note. It concluded saying "any offence to the person is a threat to peace; any threat to peace is an offence to the truth of the person: 'The human person is the heart of peace'."
(From the Vatican Information Service)
May the Peace of Christ descend upon this unpeaceful world through our prayers to the Queen of Peace, Our Mother Mary!
Thank you for sharing with us Deacon John. Bruce and Shelley
Posted by Deacon John to Mary, Our Mother at 7/14/2006 10:47:00 AM
A LETTER FROM A MEMBER: Kim Alps BSP
Dear Bruce and Shelley,
I hope your trip (to Medjugorje)was especially blessed. May God restore your tired bodies, (and your internal clocks quickly!)
I had one of the sweetest, I believe, encounters with The Holy Spirit. My precious mother-in-law has suffered from heart failure. This is a treatable condition but she is a woman who hasn't had any major illnesses. She is fiercely independent. She was in the hospital last month where they gave her a drug which slowed her rapid heart rate but didn't really fix the rhythm. Long story short (ha, ha for me, right?) the treatment didn't work and I took her to the doctor's yesterday. The doctor told her she had to go into the hospital. My poor mother-in-law began to cry and said she was ready to die and she had a living will. The doctor told her she couldn't let her do that; that her condition was treatable. The doctor left us alone so I could comfort her and try to reason
I started to pray, asking God to give me the words He wanted her to hear. I began to cry with her, begging her to calm down. I told her how we loved her and wanted her to be around. Somehow no matter what I said she would not reconsider. I prayed and prayed. The words just weren't there.
As it was such a hot day we just sat in the doctors waiting room before leaving. I put my arm around my mother- in-law and told her she wouldn't be in the hospital that long. She finally said she would go but she didn't know when.
Just at that point, a woman sat down beside us. She seemed to be afflicted in some way; down syndrome or some other mental impairment. She introduced herself and asked our names. We were seated so that my mother-in-law was between the woman and myself. We introduced ourselves and she said to my mother-in-law, "I can see you are a wonderful woman." My mother-in-law said, but you don't even know me. How do you know I'm a wonderful woman?" The woman looked me in the eye for a moment and then in a very clear, distinct voice, uncharacteristic of mental impairment, "Look at how your daughter loves you. Look at how she cares for you." My mother-in-law started crying. The woman continued restating everything I had just been trying to tell my mother-in-law. Everything!
When the woman finished saying everything I had just tried to say in the doctor's office, the
woman's demeanor seemed to change. She went silent. She went back to her seat next to another woman who seemed to be her caretaker, took her wallet out and seemed to play with it. She never spoke again but concentrated on her wallet, playing with its contents.
My mother-in-law and I just looked at each other. Finally, my mother-in-law stood up and said, " Come on Kim, I'd better pack for the hospital. Maybe I won't be in too long.
Blessed be God forever! My prayers for help were answered by this precious seemingly mentally impaired woman who was spiritually unimpaired. God is so good. I believe the Holy Spirit just flowed right through her and touched my mother-in-law's heart in a way I couldn't.
Thank you for letting me share this!
Thank you Kim for sharing this praise report! Very beautiful, and a real testimony on how we should turn to the Holy Spirit when we have troubles and cares, and trust in His power to act, as did St. Francis also.
Bruce and Shelley
FRANCISCAN SAINTS: St. Ferdinand the King of Castile (1199-1252)
Ferdinand III, Spanish king of Castile from 1217 to 1252, and León from 1230 to 1252, was son of Alfonso IX of León and Berenguela of Castile.
The highest aim of Ferdinand's life was the liberation of Spain from the Muslims, who had seized a large portion of Spain since the Seventh Century. The Reconquista of the Spain had already started when Ferdinand was born, but still the Muslims ruled a large part of the Iberian Peninsula.
Ferdinand was also a cousin of King St. Louis of France (the mothers of the holy kings were sisters.) His early life was spent at the court of Castile. There he learned to fulfill his duties to the Church, his country, and his people, in addition to the arts of war.
Ferdinand was not yet twenty years old when his brother died and he was called back from Castile by his mother to take over governing of Leon. His mother continued anyway to advise and assist him during his young reign. He also took as his counsellors the wisest men in the State.
Ferdinand married Princess Beatrice, daughter of Philip of Suabia, King of Germany and they had seven sons and three daughters. She was one of the most devout princesses of that period. Following the death of Beatrice in 1236, he married Joan of Ponthiers, with whom he had two sons and a daughter.
For 27 years throughout his life, Ferdinand had to wage war against the Mohammedans almost continually. His whole conduct in private or public life, and specially as leader of military troops, bore testimony to the truth of his solemn protestation with which he appealed to Heaven: "Thou, O Lord, Who searchest the secrets of hearts, knowest that I desire Thy Glory, not mine, and the increase of Thy Faith and Holy Religion, not of transitory kingdoms." Really, Ferdinand was filled with anxiety more for the kingdom of God than for his temporal dominion.
Ferdinand forced back the enemies of the Christian name farther and farther. His arms had very unusual success. But the king also endeavored to make himself worthy of success. He insisted on discipline and Christian conduct among his soldiers. He himself prayed, fasted, and scourged his body when in the field, that God might favor him. He honored Mary, the Help of Christians, with great confidence, and had her image carried at the head of his troops as their standard. He watched over the conduct of his soldiers, confiding more in their virtue than in their valour. Amid the tumult of the camp he lived like a religious in the cloister.
The archbishop of Toledo was his spiritual director and counselor, and accompanied him on all his campaigns. All ecclesiastical affairs in the re-conquered territory were arranged according to the archbishop's directions.
Ferdinand's military efforts were not so much imperialistic in motivation as driven by a wish to save Christians from the dominance of infidels. Once the Moors and Jews submitted, he pursued a course of tolerance, while encouraging the friars to convert them. The glory of the Church and the happiness of his people were the two guiding motives of his life.
In thanksgiving for his victories, Ferdinand rebuilt the cathedral in Burgos and converted the great mosque of Seville into a church. He restored to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostella the bells that had been removed by the Moors.
From the beginning of his reign, Ferdinand, although still so young, had given evidence generosity, justice, gentleness. A man of great faith and devotion, especially to Our Lady, Ferdinand founded and funded hospitals, bishoprics, monasteries, and churches. He reformed Spanish law, and compiled it into a form used for centuries after. An excellent administrator and just ruler, often pardoning those who worked against the crown. He strove always to use his power to better his people and his nation. He always took the greatest care not to overburden his subjects with taxation, fearing, as he said, the curse of one poor woman more than a whole army of Saracens. In order to curb the excesses of lower tribunals, Ferdinand established the court since called the Royal Council of Castile. This consisted of ten auditors to whom, sitting as a court, appeal could be made from all other tribunals. A code of laws which he caused to be compiled by the ablest lawyers, was called Los Partidos.
Ferdinand was arming himself for another campaign when he was attacked with a serious illness. In the spirit of humility and penance he prepared himself for death. He had all the marks of royalty removed from his room, and with a rope tied about his neck he acknowledged himself a poor sinner, receiving the last sacraments with touching devotion. Then he admonished his eldest son to be a father to his younger brothers and sisters, always to treat his stepmother, Ferdinand's second consort, with due honor, and to be a kind ruler to his subjects. Ferdinand died on May 30, 1252, at Seville, aged fifty-two years. In accordance with his personal wishes, his body was clothed in the habit of the Third Order, and thus appareled, he was laid to rest in the cathedral of Seville, amid the tears of his people.
Pope Clement X canonized him in 1671.
Submitted by Anna Ferroni—Turin, Italy
THE ADMONITIONS OF ST. FRANCIS:
XXVIII. Virtue should be concealed or it will be lost
Blessed the religious who "treasures up for heaven" (cf. Mt. 6:20) the favours God has given him and does not want to show them off for what he can get out of them. God himself will reveal his works to whomsoever he pleases. Blessed the religious who keeps God's marvelous doings to himself.
So end the wonderful Admonitions of St. Francis. They contain good advice for all Christians, and can be a real and sincere help to us all to draw close to the Lord and His Will for us in our day-to-day lives in the world. To grow spiritually we need only consider their message as it relates to our own lives among others. Then apply the principles and begin to put an ax to the old ways and grow in the new. This is conversion in the true sense of the word. Don't look back. Don't get discouraged. Take this sound advice of St. Francis and plow ahead knowing that "Blessed is that servant whom his master on arrival finds doing so." (Lk.12:43)
by Marx Reichlich, Austrian painter (1460-1519)
Alte Pinakothek, Munich (Germany)
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!
"But if it is by the Spirit of God that I drive out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. "