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Stella Matutina » 2005 » May » 18, the Brothers and Sisters of Penance of St. Francis blog
The Brothers and Sisters of Penance of St. Francis
Stella Matutina

May 18, 2005

We see not what he did say…

Filed under: Morning Star — Bruce @ 3:13 pm

You have taken St. Francis our shining star ,
who gave Your rules for our way,
his perfection was to guide our correction,
now we see not what he did say.

What can we say? St. Francis was with us a short while on earth. Born in 1181 he died in 1226. He was 45. Like every man he was taken from us to his home in heaven but while he was here he was a shining star. It is said that St. Francis was the most like Christ of any Saint. Once a brother had a vision of Christ walking along. He left footprints and behind him came a host of other Saints who tried to walk in the Lord’s exact footsteps but could not. No matter how they tried they could not exactly step in the footprints the Lord made. Then came St. Francis along the way and he glibly stepped into the Lord’s footprints and followed them perfectly. He was and is a shining star on the path to spiritual perfection.

It is well documented that he started three Orders. One for priests, the First Order. One for holy ladies, sisters, the Second Order, of which St. Clare was the first head. Finally, and lastly, by pressure of the people of his time, he started a Third Order, for all of the Faithful and most certainly the laity, as their way to salvation. This is the core Rule of the Stella Matutina movement and Association of the Brothers and Sisters of Penance of St. Francis. Yet his Rules he always maintained were not from himself but from the Lord, and the Lord confirmed this at Rieti when St. Francis was challenged about making the Rule for the First Order harsher. He spoke to the Lord, not the complaining friars, and the Lord answered him from heaven confirming to all present that the Rules of St. Francis came from Him, not St. Francis.

Remarkable as this was, and it had to have been an awesome miracle, this marvelous message was not given for St. Francis. Like the Rules themselves the message was given for his followers. For those who would hear the message, then, or now, and be searching for spiritual truth. For us. So that message of the Lord is a message to this age. All who would love St. Francis. All who would desire to follow in His way. For all time. It was a seal of approval. Such followers of St. Francis would want to know that the way they were following, i.e. the Rule St. Francis gave us, bore the stamp of perfection and approval of the Lord. What better way for us to know it than for the Lord to confirm that the ways of life that St. Francis gave us had not only His approval, but were of His creation! Ways of perfection, given by the Lord through St. Francis, to guide us in our conversions.

Unfortunately, most Franciscans today, especially, it seems, those in the institutions dedicated to St. Francis, do not follow the unaltered original Rules of St. Francis. For various reasons, which generally relate better to a spirit of laxity than perfection, the Franciscans today have pretty much gone their own way. They just don’t ‘get it’! Well intentioned as they may be, they have written, and often already rewritten by now, the Rules that St. Francis gave us. They have changed their tone and tempered their fire. It isn’t that those who follow the revised modern Rules do nothing. They live their modern Rule. The problem is that many of these Rules factually require little other than a regular meeting. Some of these Rules do not even mention the word fasting. Some scarcely mention prayer. Yet prayer and fasting were at the core of the life of St. Francis himself, not to mention his other ladies: poverty, simplicity, and obedience.

So, blessed are all who strive to live the Rules that St. Francis himself gave; without a gloss, without a gloss. That is what the Lord asked at Rieti, and if we don’t want to do that then He said we should just leave the Order. Leave the lifestyle. Go our way.

Blessed be the Lord, and all who follow Him in the footsteps of St. Francis.