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Franciscan Seculars

 

St. Francis of Assisi
St. Francis of Assisi

I find many toiling for the body and few for the soul, for many toil for the body by breaking rocks, razing mountains, and performing other works fatiguing to the body, but who is there that labors so courageously and fervently for his soul? —
Brother Giles, follower of St. Francis of Assisi

“Silence implies consent.” St. Thomas More, OFS


The Words of St. Francis

His words for Politicians and Government leaders


The Words of our Holy father, Pope Francis

We are a church of martyrs, Pope says

Jesus cannot be understood without his mother: Pope Francis

Spiritual and Eucumenical Endeavors, and other colloquies.


For information about Secular Franciscans and books for inquires

RUTH VOGEL'S BOOK I and II(“REFLECTIONS OF A SECULAR FRANCISCAN”
BY RUTH VOGEL, S.F.O).order here ->


Pray The Divine Office


Formation Articles

St. Padre Pio The fascinating story by Bret Thoman, OFS

Your Editor

To the Point by Dennis Mallon, OFS The War on Women


A Christian can never remain silent in the face of violence, poverty, hunger, corruption or abuse of power. – Pope Benedict XVI
 

“Aggressive gender ideology

Cardinal Wuerl decries ‘aggressive gender ideology’
The Nature of the Human Being, Male or FemaleJune 02, 2016

Lamenting “aggressive gender ideology” and criticizing the Obama administration’s recent letter on the use of bathrooms and locker rooms by public school students who state they are transgendered, Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington emphasized in a recent blog post that the human body “is not extraneous, but goes to our very essence.”

“Before all else in this world, before we are able to form a single thought or make any decisions, from the very moment of our origin and conception, we have a body that is intrinsically sexually differentiated and constituted male or female in a way that cannot really be changed,” he said. “Furthermore, the body reveals that man and woman are made to complement one another – they are made for love, the reality that forms the basis of family.”

“This is the objective, intrinsic, self-evident truth of who and what we are,” he continued. “Revealed in the body and discernable by right reason, this truth thus applies to all regardless of religious beliefs. Also, one’s subjective choices or beliefs cannot alter this reality – what is revealed in the body as one sex cannot be changed to the other.”

Stating that the Church must be “a beacon of truth in the darkness,” Cardinal Wuerl added:
One of the enervating forces of our culture is the assertion that everything is up for grabs. What was once grasped as objective truth is now dismissed as mere construct, and there is a growing relativism that seeks to reconstruct the most fundamental realities.

Last year we saw a societal redefinition of marriage and family. Today, the concept of humanity itself is called into question with an aggressive “gender” ideology which holds that whether a person is male or female is not an objective reality, but is subjectively determined. Increasingly, those who do not go along with this new order are denounced and ostracized as bigoted. It is as if we all must now affirm that the world is flat lest we be condemned of discrimination.

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Throughout history, but more acutely in our day, people have pondered the mystery of their life. The details on resumes – occupations, education, residence – really do not answer the fundamental question of our very essence. We want to know the objective and enduring truth about ourselves, “Who am I? What am I? What does it mean to be human?”

To understand this question of our nature, we must begin with the observation that we each have a body – a body that we did not personally make. We are bodily creatures and not simply spiritual beings, and we did not and cannot subjectively create ourselves.

This body is not extraneous, but goes to our very essence. The body is the outward visible sign of the reality of the person.   It is in the body that we obtain our being and existence, our primary nature and identity. It is in and through the body that we think, believe and feel, and how we experience and know things and the world around us.

We see in the body also that we are human. We are different from the birds and fish and animals. Moreover, we are persons and not mere things or mechanical objects.

In a particular way, the body also reveals to us the innate truth of our human nature that we are from the beginning made male or female. Before all else in this world, before we are able to form a single thought or make any decisions, from the very moment of our origin and conception, we have a body that is intrinsically sexually differentiated and constituted male or female in a way that cannot really be changed. Furthermore, the body reveals that man and woman are made to complement one another – they are made for love, the reality that forms the basis of family.

This is the objective, intrinsic, self-evident truth of who and what we are. Revealed in the body and discernable by right reason, this truth thus applies to all regardless of religious beliefs. Also, one’s subjective choices or beliefs cannot alter this reality – what is revealed in the body as one sex cannot be changed to the other.

For its part, religious faith confirms and expands upon this truth of human nature. Scripture teaches that “God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:27). Humanity is explicitly made male and female and inherently in relationship, made in the image and likeness of God the Trinity who is Love and Truth. Thus every human is to be cherished and respected precisely as he or she is made from the moment of conception.

Jesus said that he came into the world to testify to the truth (John 18:37) and so must we who are his disciples. It is the Church’s duty “to serve humanity in different ways, but one way in particular imposes a responsibility of a quite special kind: the diakonia of the truth” (Fides et Ratio, 2). Central to this mission is proclaiming the truth of the human person. It is only in this truth that one can be free.

This service in the truth is particularly needed today. One of the enervating forces of our culture is the assertion that everything is up for grabs. What was once grasped as objective truth is now dismissed as mere construct, and there is a growing relativism that seeks to reconstruct the most fundamental realities.

Last year we saw a societal redefinition of marriage and family. Today, the concept of humanity itself is called into question with an aggressive “gender” ideology which holds that whether a person is male or female is not an objective reality, but is subjectively determined. Increasingly, those who do not go along with this new order are denounced and ostracized as bigoted. It is as if we all must now affirm that the world is flat lest we be condemned of discrimination.

Now the federal government has issued a “guidance” for “transgender students,” which says that school bathrooms and locker rooms should effectively be open to persons of the opposite sex. This development is deeply disturbing, as noted in a letter from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops objecting to this decree.

“It is one thing to be understanding of human weakness and the complexities of life, and another to accept ideologies that attempt to sunder what are inseparable aspects of reality,” says Pope Francis on this very issue (Amoris Laetitia, 56). It is not an act of discrimination to assert, “We cannot say that what is false is true.” By saying this, we are not advancing an alternate ideology, but proposing and defending reality and genuine human dignity.

In the face of this cultural divide, the Church will do what we have always done – what we can only do – and that is to be a beacon of truth in the darkness, lovingly giving voice to what it means to be authentically human and helping people to appreciate themselves as they were created (cf. Amoris Laetitia, 285). This means standing firm in the truth that sexual differentiation is not a construct of the mind, much less a social construct, but is a permanent reality revealed in the body, male or female, whether or not one chooses to acknowledge or accept this reality (Id.). To do otherwise, to not testify to the truth, would be to deny our own identity as Catholics and as a Church.

– See more at: http://cardinalsblog.adw.org/2016/05/nature-human-male-female/#sthash.zukjqcE7.dpuf

Catholic Eye-opener

A Charity Hospital run by the Sisters of Charity in New Orleans, along with the Upjohn company developed the plasma system in the 1930’s that saved so many lives in WWII, Korea, Vietnam and in the middle east now.
 
During the Civil War most of the  nurses were nuns.
 
Even if you are not Catholic, this is eye opening:
 
When the Catholic Church was founded, there were no hospitals.  Today, one out of five people in this country receive their medical care at a Catholic hospital.
 
When the Catholic Church was founded, there were no schools.  Today, the Catholic Church teaches 3 million students a day, in its more than 250 Catholic Colleges and Universities, in its more than 1200 Catholic High Schools and its more than 5000 Catholic grade schools.
 
Every day, the Catholic Church feeds, clothes, shelters and educates more people than any other organization in the world.
 
The new Obama  Health Mandate could end all this and the tax payers would have to make up the loss.
 
Also, all Catholic adoption services will come to an end… a human disaster.
 
There are more than 77 million Catholics in this country.  It takes an estimated 50 million Catholic votes to elect a president.
 
I am asking all of you to go to the polls in 2016 and be united in replacing all Senators and Reps with someone who will respect the Catholic Church, all Christians, and all Religions.
 
Mr. President, you said, “The USA  is not a Christian Nation”.  You are wrong – we are a Christian Nation founded on Judeo-Christian values allowing all religions in America to worship and practice freely… something that Islam will never do.
 
Oh, by the way, on MUSLIM HERITAGE IN America… Have you ever been to a Muslim hospital, heard a Muslim orchestra, seen a Muslim band march in a parade, know of a Muslim charity, ever seen Muslims shaking hands with a Muslim Girl Scout, or ever seen a Muslim Candy Striper volunteering in a hospital?
 
Have you ever seen a Muslim do much of anything that contributes positively to the American way of life?
 
One more note… in every church or synagogue I have ever been in in the United States, I have always seen an American flag.  No mosques in the United States carries an American flag.

Franciscan Poverty – Sine Proprio:

Without Anything of One’s Own

Before you begin this lesson, I’d like for you to take out a sheet of paper. Draw a line vertically down the middle of the page and make two columns. On the top of the left column, write, “Things I value”; on the top of the right, write, “Things that concern me.” Take 4 or 5 minutes to list the things you value in the left column and things that concern you in the right column. [wait 5 minutes]. Now put the piece of paper aside as I begin this lesson.

Q: What is Franciscan poverty?

Francis defines his way of life and that of the brothers in the first sentence of his Rule of life: In Chapter 1 of the Earlier Rule of 1221 (Regula non Bullata), he says, “The rule and life of these brothers is this: to live in obedience, in chastity, and without anything of their own [sine proprio], and to follow the teaching and the footprints of our Lord Jesus Christ.” In the Later Rule of 1223 (Regula Bullata), Francis reiterated himself: “The Rule and Life of the Lesser Brothers is this: to observe the Holy Gospel of Our Lord Jesus Christ by living in obedience, without anything of one’s own [sine proprio], and in chastity.” In the Rules, the term, sine proprio, was a technical term used as part of a formula commonly used in the 12th century, which described the vow of poverty as one of the three evangelical counsels. So, this was not something new that Francis added to religious life.

I’d like to some other, slightly deeper, examples of Franciscan poverty. Francis used the same term, sine proprio, in other instances. In Chapter XI of one of his Admonitions, he said:

Nothing should displease a servant of God except sin. And no matter how another person may sin, if a servant of God becomes disturbed and angry because of this and not because of charity, he is storing up guilt for himself. That servant of God who does not become angry or upset at anything, lives justly and without anything of his own [sine proprio].

Here Francis extended the meaning of the term beyond one of mere technical form (as in the rules), and implies that poverty is more than a mandate or a material concern. In this description of living “without anything of his own” [sine proprio], Francis implies that poverty is a proper inner disposition; it is a serene response to another’s sins, defects, or vices. Thus, poverty reflects not just material issues (and their absence), but a “poverty of the spirit” – an emotional and spiritual detachment from another’s state of being around us. How is this an example of sine proprio? Ask yourself how you respond to others’ defects and vices? Do you get upset? If so, it’s an invitation to work on poverty in this sense.

In other writings, Francis used variations of the word, “proprio”. In Fragments Found in a Manuscript in the Worchester Cathedral, we find a form of the Latin verb appropriare which is the infinitive verb form of the word proprio, meaning “to appropriate”, “to make one’s own” or “to appro­priate to one’s self.” Francis writes, “No minister or preacher may make a ministry of the brothers or the office of preaching his own, (appropriet sibi ministerium vel officium praedicationis) but, when he is told, let him set it aside without objection.” Appropriare sibi can be translated “to appropriate to oneself.” Therefore, the sentence could be translated “No minister or preacher may appropriate to himself a ministry of the brothers or the office of preaching.” Here Francis is saying that the brothers should not become too attached to their ministries; they should humbly surrender them when required to do so. In this case, Francis describes a poverty of “detachment” a willingness to detach from those things around us – even when those things are good and you are doing the will of God. Francis says that even when we are in service and doing God’s will, we can “sin” against poverty. Have you ever “appropriated” to yourself a particular ministry, service, or apostolate?

In another writing, the 2nd Admonition, Francis says, “For that person eats of the tree of the knowledge of good who makes his will his own [who appropriates his will to himself] (qui sibi suam volun­tatem appropriat) and, in this way, exalts himself over the good things the Lord says and does in him.” What does this mean to you?

In this writing, Francis is extending the teaching on poverty to obedience. He is essentially saying that the person who appropriates his will to himself and in this way does not see that it is God who does good things through him is following Adam in disobedience and is sinning against poverty. There is the Scripture of the vines and the branches. (cf. John 15: 5) “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”

And this holds true even when one wills something good; i.e. someone wishes to be helpful towards another or service oriented towards another. However, if that does not materialize, it is not God’s will, and the person should surrender his will to God’s. I remember one time hearing a Protestant missionary tell his story of his experience in China. He said that as a young pastor, he had gone to China and began preaching to the people. After a significant period of time, no one was coming to his church or listening to him. But he continued preaching. And still no one came. Finally, he cried out to God, “If you don’t convert the people and bring them to my church, I’m going to leave this country and go back home an atheist!” Then people began coming to his church. However, I couldn’t help but wonder if he was imposing his own will on God – if he was commanding God to do his will. It seemed to me that he was appropriating his will to himself and not God’s will. Obviously, one is appropriating his will to himself when he wills something bad to happen; for God never wishes for evil.

Scripture: The Lord says in the Gospel: “Whoever does not renounce all that he possesses cannot be my disciple; and Whoever wishes to save his life must lose it. That person who offers himself totally to obedience in the hands of his prelate leaves all that he possesses and loses his body.” (find quote)

So, once we scratch the surface, we discover a deeper understanding of what Francis meant by poverty. We see how poverty (or lack of it) characterizes one’s inner disposition and attitude. In Francis’s view, true poverty is not appropriating to one’s self what is not meant for one to have or keep. It refers to a way of life that is not merely void of material possessions, but that is free of self, liberated from personal desires, willing to let go of ambition, surrendered to God’s will. This is true even when one wishes to do good. Thus, the opposite of poverty is appropriating things to one’s self; i.e., clinging or grasping to one’s will, storing up treasures, possessing.

Francis believed that we have nothing of our own; everything that we have is not ultimately ours; it originates in God and will return to God. It is as if our possessions are actually “on loan” from God. Thus, Franciscan poverty is equally about attitudes and values as it is about wealth or the lack of it. When we come to a deeper understanding of Franciscan poverty, we discover a better ordered way to properly relate to (a) our brothers, (b) our selves, and (c) God.

See Admonition V: “Nothing belongs to you”

  • Now, take your sheet of paper that I asked you to make at the beginning of the lesson. Look back at your values and the things that concern you. Now consider the things on the two lists.

a. Only “keep” the things that are valuable to God and the things that concern God. We can have an idea of the things that God values by considering if you will take them with you to heaven after you die. Can you take your earthly inheritance? Can you take material things? No, but you will take your charity and love. Therefore, discard the things that are of no value to God; keep only the ones that are of value to God.

Every vice and sin that exists is a form of taking to ourselves what is not ours to take; i.e. the 7 deadly sins: wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy, and gluttony

b. Now let’s look at the things that are of value to God. Even these things have their origin in God. Even these things do not belong to you. While not abandoning the things that you value and that concern you, even these things have to be surrendered to God. They are from God, and they must be always given back to God. When we go through life with this spirit, we are much more at peace. We give thanks, we rejoice, and we praise God for the things that he has given us – even if they are taken away.

Yet, even the good things that God gives us can be “appropriated to ourselves” when we fail to recognize that they come from God and are temporary gifts for our use

Are you appropriating to yourself that which is not yours to take? Or if has been given to you, are you putting it ahead of God?

c. Can you see how “appropriating things to yourself” is a violation of the first commandment. Do you see how living “sine proprio” – without anything of one’s own – is following the first commandment? How can you love God with all your heart, soul, and mind, when you are keeping something for yourself that is not yours to keep?

Francis, Go and Rebuild My House

by Bret Thoman, OFS

These were the words St. Francis of Assisi heard spoken to him through a crucifix in 1205 when he was just 23 years old. While much has been of the reasons why our new Pope took the name of the Saint of Assisi, little mention has been made of this significant event in St. Francis’s life. And, with all the challenges and scandals that have come out of our Church, I believe it is quite significant.

Francis of Assisi heard these words during a time of transition in the young, not-quite-yet-saintly life. Just a short period earlier, Francis had desired more than anything to become a knight. He grew up in a privileged household of ease and luxury, his merchant father having amassed a fortune in the then booming cloth business. Francis was enamored by the chivalric deeds recounted by the wandering minstrels who passed through Assisi singing chansons of the great knights like Galahad, Arthur, Lancelot, and Tristan. These knights rode on horseback and fought for honor, mercy, courtesy, courage, justice. Their mottos were the protection of the weakest, amour, courtly love, gallantry toward women, and service to God. So Francis sought to prove himself on the battlefield in hopes of becoming knighted.

For Francis, however, the reality of war proved not quite so romantic. After the Assisian army he was fighting with was ambushed by the Perugians, he spent a year in a dungeon in Perugia and became quite sickly. After recovering somewhat, he once again set out to fight – this time in the Crusades in southern Italy. That, too, proved a failure when he turned back after only one day’s journey. In a dream, he heard a voice tell him it was better to serve the Lord rather than servants. So he laid down his arms and sought to follow the true Lord. Now, Francis, the once carefree playboy who had been the life of the parties, spent his time praying in caves, wearing a penitential horsehair shirt, giving alms, and serving lepers.

During this time, he passed by a little run-down church outside the old medieval city walls of Assisi when he felt prompted to go inside. The ruined church was dedicated to the twin physician saintly brothers from eastern Europe, Saints Cosmos and Damian. Francis knelt down before the crucifix which spoke to him saying, Francisce vade, et repara domum meam, quae, ut cernis, tota destruitur (Francis, go, and repair my house, which, as you can see, is totally destroyed). Immediately, he set out to do just that — literally.

Francis went to his father’s warehouse, took a bolt of fine cloth, and set out on horseback to the nearby town of Foligno. There he sold his cloth and horse and took the money back to the church of San Damiano with the naïve intent of rebuilding the church. The priest there, however, knowing of the ill temper of Francis’s father would not accept the money. That event proved the final rift between father and son and would soon lead to their permanent and irreconcilable separation. Soon thereafter, Francis would disinherit himself from his earthly father claiming only one Father — Our Father who art in Heaven. Francis then set out to rebuild the little church of San Damiano one stone at a time. He later rebuilt several other ruined churches around Assisi in addition to churches elsewhere in central Italy.