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February 28, 2005

Commentary on WingSong…verse by verse

Filed under: Morning Star — Bruce @ 1:32 pm

Soundless like air moves my way,
opportunity covers me like water the sea,
and for me this time, scarcely a day
is life, as living here I flee.

We all come into life and move through our lives seldom giving any thought to the fact that we live. God in his goodness, and without permission from us, has given us life. By His Will we have each and all been predestined to live, to exist, and at that, forever. Hence, as the Lord Himself once said, “It is not you who have chose me, it was I who chose you…” ( Jn. 15:16)

This will always be a mystery. Why would an infinitely intelligent, all-knowing being, i.e. God, create a creature like man, that he knew would rebel against Him, except that He loves us. Hence, our only response to Him can be love because “God is Love” ( 1 Jn 4:16) and “all things are possible with God” (Lk. 18:26), and even “If we are unfaithful he will still remain faithful, for he cannot deny himself.” (2 Tim. 12,13).

So he preserves us in His Love and even saves us from our fallen nature and it was for that reason He sent His “only Son, that whoever believes in him may not die but may have eternal life.” (Jn. 3:16) and through Him we might be saved because “through this faith you may have life in His name.” (Jn. 21:31) St. Francis was always struck with and moved within and for the Love of God.

February 24, 2005


Filed under: Morning Star — Bruce @ 1:54 am

Soundless like air moves my way,
opportunity covers me like water the sea,
and for me this time, scarcely a day
is life, as living here I flee.

My soul invisible, silent but real,
moves, but not effortlessly
as I see on modern wings of steel,
but peacefully, through striving, towards holy Thee.

Prayer, ministry, fasting, sacraments amidst joy,
give it peaceful power, and speed to lift,
Earth journey’s bounds to destroy,
moving life through the ancient rift.

Hoping in mind and deed for Jesus,
and for Him does glide and soar,
songs on air, wings sing sweetly for us,
of things that matter more.

Flightless rear fledges, only guiding things,
thought in error strong when empty of power,
the gift of flight comes from Godly wings
beating tirelessly; through them spirits would flower.

Reflections in a Morning Star – Brother Not sfo – 12/29/93

This is the completed Dove. Look at the wings and the heart.

February 13, 2005

The story of the dove

Filed under: Morning Star — Bruce @ 6:36 am

The dove of Stella Matutina came into being to teach leaders in the Franciscan Order what was important about leading a life committed to Christ.
Brother and Sister Not were in leadership positions in the Secular Franciscan Order then and working with a Council of leaders who did not support the thought of returning to the original Rule of the Third Order, the Rule of 1221 which is now the Rule of the BSP.
The dove was given by inspiration from the Holy Spirit as a way to teach when one of the leaders of the Stella Matutina movement became aware that a bird could fly without a tail, using only its wings. This happened when a robin was captured in a breezeway at a resort on Leech lake, Minnesota, where the robin had mistakenly wandered indoors. The bird had to be captured to be released and when it was captured it was grabbed by the tail and much to the surprise of its captor it escaped when it left all of its tail feathers in its captures hands! Then its captor found out that a bird, stripped of all of its tail feathers, could still fly. What a meditation on flight. A bird could fly without tail feathers!

So, it came to pass, that the dove of Stella Matutina was created to represent our ‘flight to God’. It was created a ‘blank’, that is with no words written on its feathers, and was presented to the executive council of the Queen of Peace Region of the Secular Franciscan Order that way, with a request to dress the bird with words and power.
Fr. Valerius Messerich was asked by Brother and Sister Not to discuss various subjects of formation with the councilors and assign them to either wing or tail feathers based on their importance to the spiritual life, considering that birds can fly without their tail feathers, but not without their wing feathers. Fr. Valerius coordinated the training. He did so, and all of the words that are in the dove above were installed by him working with that council. All of this occurred before 1994. He did the same exercise with the leadership council of the Stella Matutina movement in the first group of supporters at St. Mathias Catholic Church in Hampton, Minnesota, where he was pastor.

This is how it was done. The leaders were given a list of subjects to post in the wings or tail of the dove, and it was explained that the wings give the dove the speed and power of flight, not the tail, which guides them. So where do the subjects on the list go? The councilors were to label the feathers of the dove. The list read like this:

Little Quiz
... You
print this page,
or just the picture of the dove,
and write the words of the list on the wings and the tail and the heart of the dove each one where it belongs… It isn’t so simple!

  • Rule

  • Constitutions

  • Sacraments

  • Scripture

  • Guidelines

  • Fraternity

  • Poverty

  • Penance

  • Prayer

  • Statutes

  • Joy

  • Peace

The Dove

So, you are invited to take the quiz as did the other leaders in the early 1990’s. Put the words above on the wing feathers, tail feathers of the blank dove, and two things in the dove’s heart. To see the answers Father Valerius guided us to, see our Web page WingSong.

The tail feathers became subjects that direct our spiritual lives. The wing feathers became subjects that add fire and power to our spiritual lives. What two things did we hold in our hearts? Wingsong, the didactic poem, came later to teach what is important about a spiritual life. Wingsong will be the next thing discussed on this BLOG.

February 6, 2005

Here is how the BSP began

Filed under: Morning Star — Bruce @ 2:56 pm

Introduction to the Stella Matutina Blog

The Stella Matutina movement was conceived in the late 1980’s when a married couple, both professed as  Secular Franciscans, became aware of the First Rule of the Third Order of St. Francis, Memoriale Propositi, the Rule of 1221. They fell in love with the Rule St. Francis gave the laity in his day, and they wanted to promote it within the Secular Franciscan Order as one way to live the new rule of the SFO. That Rule, which was the second major revision of the Rule of 1221 by the Franciscan Order, was called the Pauline Rule, because it had been approved by Pope Paul VI in 1978 for use in the Franciscan Third Order. With this approval of the Pauline Rule by Pope Paul VI all previous rules of the Secular Franciscan Order, including its First Rule, the Rule of 1221, were abrogated. The Pauline Rule is now the current rule of the SFO and this BLOG, which supports the laity living the original Rule of the Third Order of St. Francis, in no way intends any disrespect to the Secular Franciscan Order or its memberswho have generally chosen not to support their members living according to the Rule of 1221.

The national leadership of the Secular Franciscan Order went on record in opposition of any Secular Franciscan promoting or sharing the Rule of 1221 within the SFO in 1991. This event was incredibly traumatic for those who loved the Rule of 1221, and this action, in and of itself, created the seedbed of the Stella Matutina movement, which was centered in the Queen of Peace Region of the Secular Franciscan Order in Minnesota. The vision of the Stella Matutina movement is that living according to the First Rule of the Third Order of St. Francis, the Rule of 1221, is a viable response to profession to live the Pauline Rule and a holy way to live our life for Christ.

Fr. Valerius Messerich O.F.M. was both friend and spiritual guide to the authors of the Stella Matutina movement, which was first called ‘Operation Morning Star’ in honor of Our Lady. In fact, he named it one day in a casual conversation with its authors, calling it ‘Stella Matutina’, which he then had to explain was Latin for ‘Morning Star’. He supported the creation of the Stella Matutina movement, and never once criticized its direction or intensity until it became apparent that the SFO did not support it. Then he asked its creators to withdraw from the SFO and the Stella Matutina movement, and live the rule of 1221 quietly on their own, which they did for a while without resigning from the SFO. Heaven had another plan.

By way of unsolicited beautiful, mystical confirmations the Lord made his will known to both of the authors of the Stella Matutina movement in Minnesota, that He wanted the Rule of 1221 promoted and lived. He made it most clear that he wanted the authors of the movement to create an Association for Him in the Church whose Rule of life was to be the Rule of 1221. In this way the Stella Matutina movement became the cornerstone of what has grown to become the present-day Private Association of the Brothers and Sisters of Penance (BSP) of St. Francis, the sponsor of this BLOG. The history of the Association is on its web page, which is located at www.bspenance.org.

The vision of the Stella Matutina movement is now the driving force behind the Brothers and Sisters of Penance of St. Francis, a.k.a. the BSP. To welcome everyone in the entire world to live a penitential lifestyle inspired by the First Rule of the Third Order of St. Francis of 1221. The Association therefore invites all of the Faithful to add the elements of the lifestyle of the Rule of 1221, all or in part, to their lives for Christ in the world as a sure way to deepen their Catholic Christian commitment to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

What follows, and will follow, in this BLOG are documents and reflections from that Movement that are now part of the founding history of the BSP. In 1996 the BSP became a bona fide Private Association in Minnesota with the blessing of the Church, but the movement that supported it existed for almost a decade before it arose in the Church, supported by the conviction and commitment of its human administrators.

Praised be Jesus forever!







The first document that will be covered piece by piece on this BLOG will be Reflections in a Morning Star. This little book was written in the early 1990’s by Bruce and Shelley Fahey SFO, now the administrators of the Private Association of the Brothers and Sisters of Penance of St. Francis. Less than 100 pages in length it was published to the leaders of the Secular Franciscan Order, who for the most part ignored its content and message. It became one of the founding documents of the Stella Matutina movement and some of its content is in the formation documents of the BSP and have been since its earliest beginnings. This work was officially copyrighted for historical purposes by its authors in 1994.

Because it was created while its authors were still in the Secular Franciscan Order the inside of the front cover of Reflections in a Morning Star indicates why it was created.


This is not a book to be read, as books are bought to be read…

It is not a book of prayer, as books are read to be prayed…

It does not replace the Rule (Pauline), or our Professions (SFO) to live the Gospel life…

It is not an end in itself.

It is intended to be a help; a centering; a means…

To reflect on the Franciscan life of us in the modern age through the ageless eyes of Jesus…

To see ourselves like St. Francis saw himself; reflected in the Son of God, and Mary, the Morning Star…

To consider what St. Francis intended when he pointed people to holy lifestyles; when he dared to write Rules of life for others.

“I am He who is, you are she who is not…”

The Dialogue

(God the Father to St. Catherine of Siena)

Brother Not SFO

The authors of Reflections in Morning Star, whose marriage was, and is, sacramental, holy, solid, and happy, signed Reflections as Brother Not SFO and Sister Not SFO, for two reasons. First, as God said to St. Catherine of Siena, it is He who is, and the rest of us are ‘not’.
Secondly, they did NOT feel accepted by the Secular Franciscan Order they loved which severely criticized their interest in living the primitive Rule of the Order, and any mention of it to other Franciscans. Hence they felt that at the time they were ‘not’. That is,
nothing to the SFO. Hence, Brother and Sister Not SFO.

Brother and Sister Not collectively wrote the work although the poetry in it was written by Brother Not SFO exclusively and almost miraculously as he never wrote poetry before or after. He was looking for a way to communicate with the leaders of the Secular Franciscan Order that would be interesting and yet didactic. The thought of poetry came on a snowy winter morning while he was at prayer. The poetry came after that, and it was added to Reflections after it was created. It was not created for Reflections. It was created to influence the SFO leaders. It did
not do that, but it helped pave the way to the formation of the BSP in Minnesota years later.

Shelley Fahey is co-author of Reflections in a Morning Star, as Sister Not SFO. She wrote the following acknowledgement in the work.

What you are now holding in your hands is a very exciting gift to a question we often ask ourselves, “What more can I do?”. As you ponder the pages of this writing you will find there is “something more to do” for every moment God blesses you with in this life.

Some may find difficulty in applying all … to their daily lifestyle while others find it easier. We are all on different rungs of the ladder to perfection. None will ever reach the top. We can only strive to climb higher for we all know that no one is perfect except our most loving, merciful Lord.

May God bless you with His peace.

Michele Fahey SFO

Father Valerius Messerich O.F.M. was the guiding spiritual director of the Stella Matutina movement, who inadvertently named it as well by pointing out that Morning Star in Latin is Stella Matutina. He was fully supportive of the Stella Matutina movement and acknowledged
Reflections in a Morning Star as a step in the right direction; a closer walk with the Lord, which must go beyond Reflections, and did, with the creation of the private Association of the Brothers and Sisters of Penance. His Letter to all Franciscans, which was included in Reflections, follows.

Open Letter to All Franciscans…

The Franciscan charism has been called “the fruitful ideal”. It keeps fermenting in the minds and hearts of countless “you’s” and “me’s” that have encountered St. Francis of Assisi.

In singleness of mind and heart St. Francis took the words of the Holy Gospel and made them his own. In few and simple words, the fruit of nights and days of much prayer and reflection, he tells us how he lived as a brother to all creatures, his sisters and brothers in the one Father of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Once touched by his example we allow the Word of the Lord to speak to us and with, or without, others we make our path through life, always open to the promptings of the spirit but not compelled or restrained by them. That freedom of the spirit makes us Franciscans unique individuals. By the grace of God we are our own in the Lord and in kindly charity with others, yes, both challenging and being challenged.

I am ever searching. I am reminded of the Gospel parable about the man who finds a treasure buried in a field, then goes and sells all he has to purchase that field. And as I go through life, as I suppose you do, I never seem to know how much that field costs. I just keep cashing in whatever I have, keeping nothing for myself, in the hope that I will one day have that treasure. And how we rejoice for the woman who finds the coin she lost, and she calls all her neighbors to have them celebrate with her. And so we never give up, but are ever encouraged by one another as we are lead on from virtue to virtue, ever encouraged by one another as we are lead on from virtue to virtue, knowing that God is ever faithful, caring for us and strengthening us along the way. As St. Francis was not concerned about founding an Order but looked only for and welcomed brothers and sisters, so too we Franciscans are not that concerned about belonging to an institution, but more interested in searching and finding what we do not yet have. And so we keep running and climbing mountains making straight a path to the Lord. And so I am pleased to invite you on this journey that goes beyond ‘Reflections’ to the very heart of God.

To Jesus through Mary in the glory of the Most Holy Trinity. Amen.

Fr. Valerius Messerich O.F.M.