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Franciscan Seculars

Your editor of this site is back a will be getting Franciscan updates as fast as possible. Sincerely, in St. Francis, Dennis Mallon, OFS

St. Francis of Assisi

St. Francis of Assisi

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

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

Pray The Divine Office

The words of St. Francis

His words for  Politicians and Government leaders

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


Pope Francis

Words from Pope Francis: Spiritual and Eucumenical Endeavors, and other colloquies.

We are a church of martyrs, Pope says

Jesus cannot be understood without his mother: Pope Francis


The expectant Blessed Mother


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

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


Pray The Divine Office

For information about Secular Franciscans and books for inquires, order here-> -> -> ->

St. Francis of Assisi

St. Francis of Assisi

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

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


Pray The Divine Office

For information about Secular Franciscans and books for inquires, order here-> -> -> ->

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.

Pope’s Visit: What is the theme of Pope Francis’ pontificate?

It’s the family.
By Dr. Jeff Mirus Sep 28, 2015

It is a great mistake, I think, to sell Pope Francis short when he does not say exactly what we wish he would say. I’ve written about this before. (See, for example, How do we react when the Pope fails to express our top concerns? in January and Pope Francis: Get it? Got it? Good! in June.) It is reasonable to be disappointed, within due limits, if the Pope does not take advantage of what appears to be an obvious opportunity to make an important point. But let’s be honest: It is spiritually immature—not to mention a scandal to others—to respond derisively or dismissively to the Holy Father.

Among the many comments I’ve read about the points Pope Francis has made during his visit to the United States, I have seen few which attempted to place his remarks in the context of the overarching themes of his pontificate. The focus always seems to be on whether Pope Francis won or lost this particular round, and especially on whether the Pope’s strategy on this occasion was good or bad, and whether he has revealed a failure or a weakness. That sort of commentary has some value, but it can be terribly self-centered and, even if it isn’t, it is likely to be myopic, missing the big picture.

Concerning his visit to the United States, then, let us begin by taking the Pope at his word when he said before Congress that:

It is my wish that throughout my visit the family should be a recurrent theme. How essential the family has been to the building of this country! And how worthy it remains of our support and encouragement! Yet I cannot hide my concern for the family, which is threatened, perhaps as never before, from within and without. Fundamental relationships are being called into question, as is the very basis of marriage and the family. I can only reiterate the importance and, above all, the richness and the beauty of family life.

The further along the Pope got in his visit, particularly in New York and Philadelphia, he delivered repeatedly on this promise, offering a profoundly Christian vision of the family:

From time immemorial, in the depths of our heart, we have heard those powerful words: it is not good for you to be alone. The family is the great blessing, the great gift of this “God with us”, who did not want to abandon us to the solitude of a life without others, without challenges, without a home….

As Christians, we appreciate the beauty of the family and of family life as the place where we come to learn the meaning and value of human relationships. We learn that “to love someone is not just a strong feeling – it is a decision, it is a judgment, it is a promise” (Erich Fromm, The Art of Loving). We learn to stake everything on another person, and we learn that it is worth it.

Jesus was not a confirmed bachelor, far from it! He took the Church as his bride, and made her a people of his own. He laid down his life for those he loved, so that his bride, the Church, could always know that he is God with us, his people, his family. We cannot understand Christ without his Church, just as we cannot understand the Church without her spouse, Christ Jesus, who gave his life out of love, and who makes us see that it is worth the price.

These extracts are from the official text of the Pope’s talk at the Prayer Vigil for the Meeting of Families in Philadelphia on September 26th. (Note: I have quoted the Pope’s speech as published by the Vatican for the occasion, even though the Pope, as he often does, deviated from his prepared text to speak less formally at the actual event.)

Who can doubt that the family—created, formed, redeemed and strengthened by Christ—lies at the heart of this pontificate? Francis decided to focus so much on the family that he made it the central purpose of not one but two major synods (the second one coming up in October), ensuring that this subject would dominate Catholic discussions for a period of two to three years. In the year between the synods, he used his Wednesday general audiences to offer an extended catechesis on the family, which he completed earlier this month.

And when he came to consider a visit to the most powerful country in the world, why did he come when he did? Because the World Meeting of Families was taking place in Philadelphia at this time.

Closely-Related Issues
Pope Francis sees all too clearly the widespread destruction of families. The particular agents of this destruction all stem from the modern rejection of nature as a gift from the Creator, to which the proper responses are gratitude and good stewardship. Instead, we too often instrumentalize nature, seeing it not as a “given” but as material to be manipulated to create imagined “realities”, to erect false castles of individual selfishness.

This, for example, is the message that lies at the heart of Francis’ encyclical on the environment, Laudato Si’. The Pope teaches that the technocratic instrumentalization of nature results in not only massive environmental destruction, but the destruction of our very selves: sex-change operations, contraception, abortion, divorce, homosexuality, gay marriage, domestic violence, child abuse, and the general desire to inhabit a soul-sapping and counterfeit world in which pleasure is always perverted and genuine happiness inevitably lost.

Drawing partly from key thinkers in the Orthodox Churches, Francis has considerably deepened Catholic reflection on nature as a whole. He sees that just as a proper response to God engenders a coherent and positive response to all of Creation, so too will a proper reception of nature assist us in responding properly to God—the loving Father who gives good gifts to His children. Clearly, he sees environmental concerns as a kind of bridge to a deeper understanding of all of reality, with family questions at the center.

In fact, nearly all of the broader social issues Pope Francis speaks about are those which he believes most adversely affect the family: immigration problems, environmental depredation, unemployment, poverty, human trafficking, and the general division of the world into “haves” and “have nots”, where the rich destroy not only their own families, through a chronic selfishness which kills the soul, but also the families of the poor, through this same chronic selfishness which excludes them from the goods necessary to keep body and soul—and family—together.

In Caritas in Veritate, Pope Benedict showed the deep connections between what we call the “life issues” and the “social issues”. Referring to them as “sexual” and “social” might serve better to highlight their intimate connection (I use the term “intimate” advisedly). In any case, Pope Francis understands that all of these issues appear with a human face in the family. And no matter how hard we may try, in the family they cannot be separated completely.

A Vital Context
Of course, nobody speaks only of one thing, and I do not mean to argue that Pope Francis never says anything without the family in mind. But if we keep the family in mind—marriage, children, nuclear families, broken families, suffering families, counterfeit families, extended families, the family of grace created by Our Lord’s espousal of the Church as His Bride, nations which inescapably live or die based on the health of their families, and even the international possibilities of a network of families reaching across barriers to support each other—if we keep the family in mind, I suggest we will frequently make much better sense of this Pope’s message.

We do not have to like everything about any pope. My life has spanned the pontificates of Pius XII, John XXIII, Paul VI, John Paul I, John Paul II, Benedict XVI, and now Francis. At one time or another I have stared open-mouthed at each, unable to do anything but scratch my head (though only in retrospect for Pius XII, as I was just ten years old when he died). Each pontiff in his turn “failed” to recognize something that was absolutely clear—indeed, blazingly obvious—to me.

Sometimes I may even have been right. Popes are, after all, human, like me. But I’m very glad I never stopped trying to internalize the central message of each one. So let us take very seriously the central message of Pope Francis. For him, thus far, the family is priority one. And this means all families: Not just those “others” out there—the ones with the problems we see so clearly—but also yours and mine.