His (St. Francis) vocabulary is essentially biblical. He is obliged to repeat the very words of the Bible. When greeting people, he does not say “Good morning” or “Good evening,” but “The Lord give you His peace.” When blessing Brother Leo, he does not invent a formula, but adopts the blessing that God commanded Aaron and his sons to say over the people of Israel.” When he sends a brother on mission, he does not say “Have trust,” but uses a verse from the Psalms: “Cast your care upon the Lord and He will care for you.” His use of the Bible in his writings does not take the form of explicit quotations. Yet, entire passages from Sacred Scripture enter spontaneously and directly into his writing, even though he does not use formulas such as “Thus says ‘the Lord” or “As it is Written.” He simply makes the language of the Bible his own.
Jesus, help me to be rooted in you when I respond to those around me.
Help me to detach myself from expectations, negative thoughts from myself and others, and attach myself to you.
Help me become an anomaly like you, someone entirely moved and influenced by the Father’s will, not my own or the will of others around me.
Reverence and respect for nature is a Franciscan perspective that is part of our lives, As good stewards, we choose to find ways to protect nature’s resources so they are available to all people – and to the children of future generations. Wherever we work and live we promote healthy responsibility and concern for earth’s resources. To do otherwise would make us poor stewards. This perspective may not always be popular, but it is part of our identity as Franciscans. Once again we look to things that concern the common good and not exploitation for personal gain.
~ Lester Bach, OFM Cap, The Franciscan Journey: Embracing the Franciscan Vision
Profession in the Secular Franciscan Order, as a promise to live the gospel in the manner of St Francis, aims to put before us the radical, light-filled and joyful style in which Francis listens to the gospel and commits himself to live it.
~Fr. Felice Cangelosi OFM Cap, Profession in the SFO: Gift and Commitment
Clare, like Francis, did not choose poverty for philosophical reasons, nor for practical ones, as a choice making her life more productive or efficient. And neither of them speak about this poverty as a response to the affluence of Church or society in their day, though it was undoubtedly seen by others in that way. The focus of their attention was God’s overwhelming generosity and love, expressed in the free choice of the Son to embrace poverty in becoming a creature. The two disciples from Assisi embraced poverty because it was embraced by their Beloved.
Do you imagine that the individual created things in the world are imperfect attempts at reproducing an ideal type which the Creator never quite succeeded in actualizing on earth?
~ Thomas Merton, New Seeds of Contemplation
The Christian doctrine of suffering explains, I believe, a very curious fact about the world we live in. The settled happiness and security which We all desire, God withholds from us by the very nature of the World: but joy, pleasure, and merriment He has scattered broadcast. We are never safe, but we have plenty of fun, and some ecstasy. It is not hard to see why. The security we crave would teach us to rest our hearts in this world and pose an obstacle to our return to God: a few moments of happy love, a landscape, a symphony, a merry meeting with our friends, a bathe or a football match, have no such tendency. Our Father refreshes us on the journey with some pleasant inns, but will not encourage us to mistake them for home.
Bonaventure highlights the idea that the one who dwells in Christ dwells in the other, because the fullness of who we are in Christ can only be found in the other. The difference of the other, therefore, was not an obstacle for Francis in his search for God but rather a celebration of God. For he found his own identity in God and he found God in the fragile, wounded flesh of his brothers and sisters. It is prayer, according to Bonaventure, that impelled Francis to see the world with new vision, a contemplative vision that penetrated the depths of reality. The world became Francis’ cloister because he found it to be permeated with the goodness of God.
The humility that naturally accompanies such a state of living helped to create a nonthreatening space for dialogue. If one is not interested in winning, being correct, or ranking above another, then one is not a threat. The sultan had nothing to fear from Francis. The way Francis lived his life demonstrated his willingness to be subordinate to every other person for God’s sake. Francis recognized himself as a sinner and therefore knew of his own need for continued conversion, garnering a great deal of patience for those whom he encountered. While considering what was so nonthreatening about Francis, Franciscan theologian Kenneth Himes said, “It was the fact that no one ever had to fear Francis. Francis never sought to dominate, manipulate, or coerce anyone. No person ever looked into the eyes of Francis and saw a lust for power or control.”
A certain valiant and veracious soldier, Master John of Grecio, who, for the love of Christ, had left the warfare of this world, and become a dear friend of this holy man, affirmed that he beheld an Infant marvellously beautiful, sleeping in the manger, Whom the blessed Father Francis embraced with both his arms, as if he would awake Him from sleep. This vision of the devout soldier is credible, not only by reason of the sanctity of him that saw it, but by reason of the miracles which afterwards confirmed its truth.
~St. Bonaventure, Life of St. Francis of Assisi
The brethren were summoned, the people ran together, the forest resounded with their voices, and that venerable night was made glorious by many and brilliant lights and sonorous psalms of praise. The man of God [St. Francis] stood before the manger, full of devotion and piety, bathed in tears and radiant with joy; the Holy Gospel was chanted by Francis, the Levite of Christ. Then he preached to the people around the nativity of the poor King; and being unable to utter His name for the tenderness of His love, He called Him the Babe of Bethlehem.
~St. Bonaventure, Life of St. Francis of Assisi
It happened in the third year before his death, that in order to excite the inhabitants of Grecio to commemorate the nativity of the Infant Jesus with great devotion, [St. Francis] determined to keep it with all possible solemnity; and lest he should be accused of lightness or novelty, he asked and obtained the permission of the sovereign Pontiff. Then he prepared a manger, and brought hay, and an ox and an ass to the place appointed.
~ St. Bonaventure, Life of St. Francis of Assisi
Torture violates the basic dignity of the human person that all religions, in their highest ideals, hold dear. It degrades everyone involved — policy-makers, perpetrators and victims. It contradicts our nation’s most cherished ideals. Any policies that permit torture and inhumane treatment are shocking and morally intolerable.
Our Holy Father, St. Francis, reminded us, through his desire to recreate the scene of the Incarnation at Greccio, that we are ONE in our Lord. The question for each of us to consider throughout this season of anticipation is, what can we, as sisters and brothers to one another, do to rekindle the spark of the Spirit’s fire and enthusiasm within each of us and within our Fraternities so that we may open our hearts to hearing, healthing and healing one another so that together, as family, we can journey into the new year with open minds and open hearts to the direction of Him who has called us? May the Spirit of the living God grant us the grace to be available as Mary was so that we may respond to His call to rekindle the fire within us not only individually but fraternally, thereby doing what is ours to do in this time and in this place.
No room! The Creator of the universe finds no room in His own creation! The God of all creation is refused a welcome by those from Whom they received life! Almighty God is born in a hovel for animals, Whose throne is a manger and Whose adoring court are a humble couple and poor shepherds from the hillside who were tending sheep! What mystery of love! Here is a total emptying! How can we question that God understands our human condition? The ecstatic praise that St. Francis of Assisi once said when he reflected upon the Mystery of the Incarnation: O sublime humility, O humble sublimity! is the awe-filled acknowledgment and prayer we offer before the greatness of such emptying of Himself! It all began with Mary’s “Yes” to the Father’s request for her availability to allow God to be born in human history.
If I pause to think about it, such a declaration is enough to take my breath away. In consecrating ourselves “to service in His Kingdom,” we change our relationship to God’s infinite and eternal creation, which in itself is something that is always changing, always new, always becoming. We are no longer simply along for the ride, as it were. We can no longer live our lives as we have, focused solely on ourselves and our families and our careers and the countless irritations that make up modern life. In making our formal and public professions, we declare that Christ is the center of our lives, the balance point, the focus, the prime mover–our “All.” In consecrating our lives, we make Christ, as He is revealed in the gospels, the measure of all that we do.
For Francis and Clare, prayer is to lead to a renewal of the “Incarnation;” God is to “take on flesh” anew in one’s life through the action of the Holy Spirit, and the birth of God in one’s life should shine before others, as a light to the world.
Catholic moral teaching is not a mere code of prescriptions and prohibitions. It is not something that the Church teaches merely to keep people obedient, doing violence to their freedom. Rather, Catholic morality is a response to the aspirations of the human heart for truth and goodness. As such, it offers guidelines that when followed will make these aspirations grow and become strong under the warm light of the Gospel. Catholic morality is not by nature oppressive: nor is it in principle conservative. It seeks to educate for growth. This is its true mission.
What really hurts is not so much suffering itself as the fear of suffering. If welcomed trustingly and peacefully, suffering makes us grow. It matures and trains us, purifies us, teaches us to love unselfishly, makes us poor in heart, humble, gentle, and compassionate toward our neighbor. Fear of suffering, on the other hand, hardens us in self-protective, defensive attitudes, and often leads us to make irrational choices with disastrous consequences.