Tuesday, May 18, 2010
The only way to lead this life of divine love, in which all are made one in perfect Franciscan joy, is to cultivate intensely the life of prayer and contemplation. This is not a prayer that is performed only at a scheduled time; it is the type of prayer that characterized our Seraphic Father.
Saint Francis lived habitually in God and appeared a ‘living prayer.’ Celano tells us: ‘Thus he directed every thought and affection as one prayer which he addressed to the Lord, not so much like one praying, but as a living prayer.’ Such prayer implies a complete union with Almighty God, not only at the time appointed for prayer, but also during the course of the entire day.
Hence the admonition of Our Blessed Lord is fulfilled: ‘that they must always pray.'' Moreover, the supernatural life demands this habit of prayer, and consequently it is a requirement of our own Franciscan life and spirit. In his first rule Saint Francis shows us how complete our union with God must be: ‘In that Holy Charity which is God, I ask all the friars, both superiors and subjects, after they have put aside all burdens, anxieties, or worries, to serve, love, adore and honor the Lord God with a clean heart in whatever way they are best able. Our Lord Himself desires this above all things. And let us always fashion in ourselves a dwelling place and mansion for Him, Who is the Almighty Lord, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.''
Tuesday, May 4, 2010
There were chaste embraces, tender affection, fraternal kisses, pleasant conversations, modest laughing, cheerful countenances, guileless eyes, humble spirits, peaceful words, gentle answers and proposals, ready compliance and willing hands. Indeed, since they despised all earthly things and never exclusively considered their own interests, they were filled with a love for everyone, freely giving themselves so that they might aid their brethren in every possible way.’
This is Franciscan charity that, according to the words of Saint John, turns community life into a paradise: ‘No one has ever seen God.’ But ‘if we love one another, God abides in us and His love is perfected in us.’
This is the charity which unites all of the brethren into one, thus fulfilling Our Divine Lord's prayer: ‘That all may be one!’ Franciscan charity is the supernatural bond uniting all in the one spirit of love. It is infinitely above all human love, yet it is the greatest human love. Our Seraphic Father urges us to espouse it by reminding us: ‘If a mother nourishes and loves her son according to the flesh, how much more diligently should one love and minister to his spiritual brother!’
Moreover, Seraphic love is the source of all Franciscan perfection, for, by means of it, God and our brothers are loved in the Holy Spirit. Hence Francis might say to us in all truth: ‘Love and this suffices!’ For he who truly loves God, his brothers, and all creatures in God, is perfectly poor. This is true because no one can love to such a degree unless he is detached from all things for God's sake, who must be loved completely and above all else.
He who possesses true love is likewise already chaste and obedient, enjoying full freedom of spirit. We say this because he who is desirous only of Infinite Love will not allow himself to be held back by any lower passion; he will not be shackled by any bond of creatures. Finally, the life of the Franciscan who loves truly is already filled with perfect joy, for this is the reward of love and the complete crucifixion of one's nature: by which he has actually arrived at Infinite Love – the highest joy and happiness.