Family as the Icon of the Holy Trinity

We think pleasure, wealth and the created order are not gods but gifts. We think that the State, the Corporation, and Individualism are nice things but not ultimate things. And, supremely, we believe that the Family, not the State, the Corporation, or the Individual, lies at the very heart of a healthy social order and even points us to eternity. For we believe that the Family is the Icon or living embodiment of the life of the Holy Trinity Himself, who created the social order and calls us to eternal life.

Wholeheartedly devote themselves

It is therefore quite clear that all Christians in any state or walk of life are called to the fullness of Christian life and to the perfection of love, and by this holiness a more human manner of life is fostered also in earthly society. In order to reach this perfection the faithful should use the strength dealt out to them by Christ’s gift, so that, following in his footsteps and conformed to his image, doing the will of God in everything, they may wholeheartedly devote themselves to the glory God and to the service of their neighbor.

~ Lumen Gentium, 40

Detachment is a gift

Detachment from things presumes that there are things to detach from. One way to learn detachment is to recognize how fragile things are. One fire, or flood, or tornado, or hurricane, or lightening strike and “things” are gone. The greater our attachment, the greater our grief. To be free of attachment to material things (even while we use them) means we are free to move on without being owned by them. Detachment is a gift that frees us from dominance by “things” in our lives. Detachment brings the gift of freedom. We are stewards, responsible for our use of material things but not possessed by them.

~ Lester Bach, OFM Cap, The Franciscan Journey: Embracing the Franciscan Vision

Penitential life

The fundamental value of penitential spirituality is integral to the continued development of Franciscan life and spirituality. The penitential life is not a matter of “doing penance” or accomplishing penitential acts, rather it is the openness to grow, to be shaped, and formed in a life that reflects the dynamic movement and presence of Christ within. Metanoia is not something we do; it is God’s gracious gift. Our participation in metanoia depends on our capacity to be receptive, bent low in prayerful and contemplative love, to dwell in Christ, and with Christ live in bountiful love and service to others.

~ Margaret Magee, O.S.F, “Reclaiming Penitential Spirituality for the 21st Century,” The Cord 57, No. 2 (April/June 2007), 152.

He desired nothing else

When St. Francis of Assisi began to understand that his life was a gift of love, he desired nothing else than that his life become a loving gift to God and others. This shift in consciousness did not happen all at once. The journey from the assumption of absolute autonomy and the false egocentric notion that we are self-sufficient, to a posture of total surrender to God and the recognition of our genuine interconnectedness with all life takes time and requires daily conversion.

~ Gerry Straub, Daily Conversion

Not equipped to see it

To dare to believe that we are truly loved, not for anything we have accomplished, earned, produced, learned, achieved, or sacrificed for, but simply for existing is a reality that can hardly be borne. We want that love more than anything; we search for that love all our lives. Yet we’re somehow not able, not equipped to see it, perhaps, except by prolonged, sustained suffering—and uniting our suffering to Christ’s. Thérèse did seem to be able to experience herself as fully loved—because she loved so much herself—and in the end that was perhaps her greatest gift: to God, to us.

~Heather King, Shirt of Flame: A Year with Saint Therese of Lisieux

A Christmas Prayer by Robert Louis Stevenson

Loving Father,

Help us remember the birth of Jesus,

that we may share in the songs of the angels,

the gladness of the shepherds,

and worship of the wise men.

Close the door of hate

and open the door of love all over the world.

Let kindness come with every gift

and good desires with every greeting.

Deliver us from evil by the blessing

which Christ brings,

and teach us to be merry with clear hearts.

May the Christmas morning

make us happy to be thy children,

and Christmas evening bring us to our beds

with grateful thoughts,

forgiving and forgiven,

for Jesus’ sake.

Amen.

 

Make themselves entirely available to God…

To celebrate Profession within the Eucharist expresses the sacrificial dimension of self-giving inherent in the Profession of the gospel life in the Secular Franciscan Order. In Profession, manifested in the presence of the Fraternity and the Church, the true nature of the candidates as priests and victims is made manifest. They, by promising to live the gospel life, make themselves entirely available to God and place their own bodies (persons) on the altar of Christ’s sacrifice as a holy victim pleasing to God. 

~Fr. Felice Cangelosi OFM Cap, Profession in the SFO: Gift and Commitment, Part 6: Profession and Eucharist